Archive | February, 2011


22 Feb
This weeks dancer/choreographer shout out goes to Addy Chan.  A native of Vancouver Beautiful British Columbia, she made the move to Toronto 4 yrs ago in pursuit of love & education. Although Dance was not her main reason for making the move, Addy has danced since her kindergarten years, highly trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop. Once here she quickly established a name for herself in the Toronto dance industry working and touring the world with artists such as Massari and Thunderheist. Dancing in commercials for So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Dove and Best Buy. Performing on major networks like CTV, MTV, Much Music and more………. I had the pleasure of assisting the stage manager a few years ago on a production Addy was a part of. I literally had tears in my eyes watching her solo which reminded me of a dancer torn between 2 worlds Ballet and Hip Hop. Contemporary skill & technique paired with the raw flavour and groove of hip hop! AMAZING needless to say! Addy the Choreographer super sweet, down to earth and hears music like a composer. I was honoured a few months ago to be 1 of her dancers when she choreographed a show for Recording Artist & My first Dancer shout out Trish. She is a great teacher and very passionate about what she does…….Like a lot of Dancers Addy has many other skills to add to the resume such as dance instructor, acting, singing, playing piano and she’s fluent in french. It was so awesome to run into her twice this week and get the chance to know a little more about this Dope Dancer Living in TORONTO…..
Bio written by Nikki
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Addy: I’m sure I was always dancing around when I was a kid but I first started ballet when I was 5 years old.  I was a bumblebee. 
Nikki:Being from Vancouver what made you come to Toronto to pursue your dance career?
Addy: I actually didn’t come here to pursue dance at all!  I moved here because I was in a long distance relationship and sometimes you gotta move across the country for love.  I was also ready for a change and from previous visits knew I loved Toronto.  When I first moved here I was actually going to the University of Toronto studying Psychology and Sociology.  HA!  In yo face education!  (I’m kidding, go read a book).
Nikki:Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Addy: My first big debut as a choreographer was at my elementary school talent show.  I was in grade 4 or 5 and I choreographed a lyrical duet to “I’ll make love to you” by Boyz II Men.  Why no one thought to suggest a song change I will never understand.  There was a lot of reaching and yearning and burning and the audience probably felt awkward watching a 10 year old express how she’ll make love to you.  It was a total success.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, What does it take for you?
Addy:A track that I feel and that makes me want to move.  Or a cheque that forces me too!  And coffee.  Always coffee.  
Nikki:Name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Addy:One of my earliest and most lasting influences was my teacher Rachael Poirier while I was training at Danzmode in Vancouver.  Along with technique and genius choreography, most importantly she taught me how to hear every layer in a song and that the ways to translate them through your body are limitless.  My parents and family are my greatest influences in life.  I’m driven by wanting to make them proud
Nikki:What advice can you give to dancers when it comes to free styling?
Addy: Every ones preference is a little different but I’m most impressed by musicality.  So listen to your music!  Sometimes people get so hyped they just start going crazy and don’t hit anything in the song.  I like seeing someone who can dance and has a good ear.  Also, sometimes less is more.  You don’t need to squish every move under the sun into a count of 8 to look fresh.  Practice! 
Nikki:What qualities do you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States don’t?
Addy: I don’t find many superficial qualities that differ from dancers east to west or north to south.  I think we are all united by a passion for music and dance and the want to make a living off what we love.  Of course there are differences in style wherever you go, and I’m told being from Vancouver means I’m chill and being Canadian makes me nice and always sorry.  (Sorry!)  I’d say the differences lie in environmental factors that out of our control Ex. For Canadians lack of American citizenship:) 
Nikki: What projects are you working on right now?
Addy: 2011’s been rad so far.  I just shot music videos for Aleesia, Shad and Danny Fernandes which should all be released pretty soon.  I choreographed and performed in a show for Holt Renfrew, and shot an episode for the Rick Mercer Report (which also starred a camel!  He was so cute!)  Right now I’m rehearsing for a Dove commercial shoot, choreographing a music video, and teaching.  As well as dancing I am also a photography producer for Zeta Production.  Check it out!
Nikki:Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto?
Addy:I’m still figuring all of this out myself but just based on my experiences and things I’m trying to improve on, to dancers I’d say: Don’t beat yourself up over auditions.  You are awesome.  Casting is pendant on so many variables before your actual talent (ex. hair color, height, ethnicity).  Just do your best and don’t take it personal.  Always strive to improve and keep learning.  To choreographers I’d say: Always negotiate to get fair pay for your dancers and have solid time management.  Everyone appreciates efficiency and organization.  Overall be a good, hard working, gracious person.  If you find meaning in your work you will always love what you do:)
Watch Addy at work dancing for artist Bonjay “Stumble” sick job on this video Addy Chan 🙂 


13 Feb

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Mark Samuels. MARKY MARKY MARK A DO DAT Entertainment Original. He by far is one of the sickest most humble dancers I know, considering he’s always murdering a piece of choreography somewhere in the world. Mark has travelled abroad dancing for many artists including Shawn Desman, Mario, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, Missy Elliott, Jully Black, Nelly Furtado and the list goes on and on and on lol. He’s definitely put his work in the Dance industry and it shows. He is also a dope Choreographer working as a Hip Hop instructor at different studios and providing choreography for different artists. Ive gotten the chance to work with Mark the Choreographer hands on dancing for Canadian Artists Kim Davis and Ray Robinson. When in Toronto he teaches a weekly class at OIP Dance Centre(190 Richmond st E) sundays 4pm-530pm. And when he’s not doing that he’s teaching workshops/master classes somewhere in the world. ANNNNND when he’s not doing that he’s probably in New York or L.A learning, performing and growing as a Dancer and Choreographer. Something some of you may not know is that he’s also a music producer and one of his newest ventures is his music production company LandMark Music (love the name btw) I’m very grateful that he had the time to let me get inside his head. Here’s what he had to say……

Bio written by Nikki

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you danced?

Mark: “Yes, a long time ago, a friend of mine showed me a move that he copied from a Bobby Brown video, “Don’t Be Cruel.” I spent DAYS trying to perfect it! And when I got it, WATCH OUT…..I did it EVERYWHERE I walked! LOL!

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Mark: “HA! I actually do! It was “Funhouse” by Kid ‘N Play for my Junior High School talent show.

Nikki: What advice can you give to dancers when it comes to free styling?

Mark: “Free styling is all about how you HEAR music. Learning different styles of dance will definitely improve your free styling. Listen to the music and think of what style of dance might fit it best. And last but not least, always “GO HARD” and don’t hold back. No matter what you do, dance with confidence.

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, What does it take for you?

Mark: “It could be a number of things; the beat of a song, the lyrics, the artist, my mood at the time, etc…it all depends on that exact moment.”

Nikki: Name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Mark: “That’s so hard to say! I get influenced in many different ways these days. As a dancer, I love watching Ed Moore, Eric Negron, Laura Edwards, Ava Berstein and of course The Amountboyz, but as a creator, I am influenced by Lyle Beniga, Tony Czar, Kyle Hanagami, Shaun Evaristo, Rhapsody James, Kevin Maher, The Shitkingz and of course Luther Brown. In no particular order of course. LOL!” There is just way too many to list. But those are some off the top of my head.

Nikki: Name one of your fave artists to work with and why?

Mark: “I particularly like working with Shawn Desman. He’s more of a personal friend than he is someone I work for. He is such a great performer on stage that you just get that adrenaline rush and want to KILL every dance step! When I was working in the US, I really enjoyed working with Mario.”

Nikki: What projects are you working on right now?

Mark: “Right now I’m going to be teaching at a few big workshops in Toronto and Montreal. I’m also working on organizing a 15th Anniversary Show for Do Dat Entertainment.”

Nikki: What qualities do you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States don’t?

Mark: “I think we possess the hunger and eagerness to dance! I think we want to prove so badly to the world that as Canadians, we can KILL it too, so we do everything we can to show that! However, we’ve become VERY influenced by the US in terms of dance styles these days!

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto?

Mark: “Yes… corny and cliche as it sounds, don’t give up on your dreams! It will take a LOT of work, dedication and discipline …you have to be hard on yourself during the learning process. But along side that, you must also network in this industry…go out and meet people, talk, and get to know those who are in the dance scene that you want to be in. It happened for me and I that’s why I’m still in this industry today.”


Checkout his Dance and Choreography reels below



Check Mark if your in Montreal March 4th 2011- Mar 6th 2011….


7 Feb

This weeks Dancer/ Choreographer shout out goes to Kay Ann Ward. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this talented Lady on a couple shows over the past few years. 3 words I would personally use to describe her is Driven, Focused and Organized. Along with being a dope dancer/choreographer, Kay Ann is Can Fit certified, runs her own website and blog, does workshops, classes, shows producing and directing. I had a chance to find out her dance background. Where she started, Where she’s at and Where she’s going. Here’s what she had to say…….

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you you started dancing and feeling passionate about it?

Kay Ann: I don’t remember exactly, but a very good memory I have is being in my grandmothers living room, and I was listening to my moms music, it was Billy Ocean, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton and some reggae music, and I was moving and having a good time. I was singing the songs..I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved the way I felt, I was breathing hard, and jumping all over the place. That I think was one of my 1st encounters with movement and music. I didn’t know what dance was at that time I was 9 or 10 years old, I just knew that what I was doing made me feel good, so I did it all the time, when no one was think my grandmother and mother had an idea, so they let me be.

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)

Kay Ann: I made up made up my 1st dance in grade 5. It was to Michael Jackson “Bad” I didn’t know I was choreographing, I just put moves together, I called it, “Making up a dance.” It was me and 2 or 3 other girls. We were a hot mess lol. We performed in front of the school. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had fun. After that, I made up many routines in my room. I was not very confident about dancing when I was younger, so I did a lot of dancing in my room, by myself, in front of the mirror and majority of the songs were from Michael Jackson..he his amazing.

Nikki: What advice can you give to dancers when it comes to free styling?

Kay Ann: Dancing is movement and movement is free and full of life. Let go of what you think is the right or wrong way of moving and dance. Dance not to get attention, dance for you, when you dance freely and with passion, that shines and radiates. And that will make people look. Get to know your body, what it could do, and the only way to do this, is to give yourself permission to go to that creative place, a place that’s non judgmental. Dance with your close friends, take a improv dance class. Think outside the box, be unconventional, and move.

Nikki: What does it take for you to get in the zone when it comes to choreography?

Kay Ann: For me, I was brought up freestyling before I stepped foot in a dance studio.
So when I choreograph, I like to freestyle. Sometimes I choreograph on the spot, because its a natural process, the moves come naturally. Sometimes I play the music and dance, I record myself, go back and learn the moves I choreographed. Or I freestyle, cut and I do something, do it again, and add on, or put the move somewhere else in the choreography. Overall I like to be comfortable, with myself and the dancers, this opens up for more creativity to come. I watch how people move naturally, and that inspires me to turn that movement into a choreographed piece. Sometimes I see pictures in my head, and I create the choreographed piece from the pictures. Emotions and a story are important to me. Every movement is an emotion and a story. So when I choreograph its important that there is a connection. Dancing is telling a I like to be as clear as possible with what it is I’m saying, even if its something far fetched, politically incorrect or sexy sexy sexy:) the movement has to say it. So to add it up my zone is freestyle, observing people, visualizing and story telling to bring choreography to life.

Nikki: Name some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?

Kay Ann: Here’s who comes to my mind. And they are in no particular order, These choreographers inspire me for different reasons, and I like the work they put out.
Linda Garneau
Mia Michaels
Jae Blaze
Luther Brown
Tre Armstrong
Shameka Blake
Esie Mensah
Toya Robinson
Laurieann Gibson (Boom Kack)
Tanisha Scott
Trevor (Baby Boyz ent)
Jerome Robbins (West side story)
Tina Landon
Bob Fosse
People (Because we move everyday, and by watching, I’m constantly inspired to create)

Nikki: What projects are you working on right now?

Kay Ann: I’m teaching a workshop this week Friday February 11 and 18th 2011 for female dancers and women looking to learn and dance in a professional environment. Its called Lady BOLD dance workshop. (PROMO VIDEO ) I’m currently working with the Baby Boyz dance group for an upcoming production at Harbourfront centre. I’m planning a showcase called Night of Essence, The theme for the 1st showcase is called “Ladies Edition” This show will feature the elite ladies who choreograph. Plus there are amazing specialty acts I’m looking at having. 2 years ago I choreographed a intimate and interactive cabaret show called the Alter Ego..I’m super excited because its coming back later this year. I can’t wait. There are other projects, that have not been confirmed, so I’m excited about now. I’m blessed, and thankful for everything.

Nikki: What qualities do you think Toronto Dancers possess that dancers from other parts of the Country and States don’t?

Kay Ann: I think we are extremely diverse..our culture is so rich, we bring a wicked ass soup to the table..

Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers in Toronto?

Kay Ann: 6 tips for dancers to practice daily check the link….