Archive | June, 2011


27 Jun

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald of Loretto, Ontario has been dancing since the age of two. She has studied ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, acro, musical theatre, hip hop, and contemporary at various studios including the National Ballet School of Canada. Kaitlyn is a member of the Royal Academy of Dance and is an Associate Member of the British Academy of Teachers of Dance.

Kaitlyn was the youngest contestant and Top 10 dancer on the first Season of “So You Think You Can Dance Canada”, and was part of the SYTYCD Canada Top 10 national tour. Since Kaitlyn’s success on “So You Think You Can Dance Canada”, she has performed in Blake McGrath’s Video, “The Night”, performed with Basshunter at Summer Rush, performed at the Toronto Choreographers Ball, was on the faculty of IDance convention, was a judge for the Eastern Canadian Dance Championships, participated in the Sick Kids Foundation Miracle treat day, was a choreographer’s assistant on Season 2 and 3 of “SYTYCD Canada”, and was a participant at the Rally for Kids with Cancer. Kaitlyn can also be seen in Joel Geleynse’s upcoming music video, “Oceanview.”

Kaitlyn’s proudest accomplishment was in 2009, when she co-founded “Dancing 4 a Cure”, a one day dance workshop to benefit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Dancing 4 a Cure Inc. has since raised over $20,000. Kaitlyn continues to travel across Canada for various projects, including teaching choreography and dance workshops, in hope of inspiring children through the art of dance.

Bio provided by Kaitlyn

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Kaitlyn: I don’t remember actually starting dance classes as I started when I was only 2. But, I do remember my first recital number. There were only 4 of us in the class and it was a Sesame Streetroutine. I was in love with the show and all I remember is that I was way too excited to be able to wear a Cookie Monster costume. I don’t remember much of the actually performance but I remember asking my mom every day if it was time to dress up as Cookie Monster.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Kaitlyn: I used to choreograph with friends from dance all the time when I was young. I remember choreographing a solo to “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz when I was about 10 and thinking it was the best dance ever haha! But the first real number I choreographed was at my former dance studio, Joanne Chapman’s school of Dance. This is where I choreographed my first routine. It was a tap number with kids ages 5-7 and it was to “My Boyfriends Back” by the American Dreams. It worked because there were about 14 girls and only one little boy. 
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Kaitlyn: My advice for people when it comes to free styling is to stay true to yourself. It always looks better when a dancer shows of their best moves, rather than showing off what they think people want to see. Also, adapting to the music helps! Don’t get trapped in keeping to one style’ it the music calls for you to get a little funky, then get a little funky! I also think it helps if you have a few moves or tricks in mind that you know you want to showcase, that way you’ll never blank when it comes to your turn.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Kaitlyn: When I am preparing to choreograph, I listen to the song over and over again. For me, loving the song and knowing it inside and out is the most helpful tool. When you know all the little beats and accents in the music, it is easier to create movement that fits and flows.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Kaitlyn: I have a few… First of all I would have to say the teachers that shaped me to be the dancer I am today, Joanne Chapman and Barbara Chonin. Without them, I would have never succeeded the way I have. Other than them I would have to say Mandy Moore, Dee Caspary, and Mia Michaels. Each one of these choreographers has helped shaped my own style and each of their stories is so inspiring. They were the teachers and choreographers that allowed me to develop into who I am as a dancer today.
Nikki: What was it like being a part of So You Think You Can Dance Canada’s Top 10 season 1?
Kaitlyn: It was amazing! I would have never thought that I would have been chosen but I am so fortunate and lucky that I was. The show not only helped me in my career but I also made life long friends. The experience was unforgettable and I think it was because I was surrounded by the most amazing people!
Nikki: Name a Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Kaitlyn: I would have to say Mia Michaels. Working with such an inspiration in the dance world was such an honor and a blessing. It is amazing to see how focused she is when she works and how she knows exactly what she’s looking for from her dancers. She has a way of pushing you to achieve greatness, and that’s why all of her piece are so amazing and captivating.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Kaitlyn: I recently danced in the opening ceremony for IIFA. It was an amazing experience to be able to dance at the Rogers Center in front of a sold out crowd.
I am currently working on my non-profit organization, Dancing 4 a Cure Inc. It is a non-profit benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Once a year, we put together a one-day dance workshop for dancers of all ages and levels and raise funds and awareness for an amazing cause. Other than that, I am enjoying the summer months off from school and waiting for more amazing opportunities to arise. for more information.
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Kaitlyn: There are a couple qualities that I think Toronto dancers possess that dancers from other places don’t. For one, dancers in Toronto are driven to succeed and be the best they can be; they don’t just sit around and wait for thing to happen, they make things happen for themselves. Secondly, I think Toronto dancers are so supportive of everyone else. There are a lot of places in the states that you go and it is so competitive and everyone is only looking out for themselves. Here, people support and encourage all dancers working in the industry and those trying to break into the industry.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Kaitlyn: My advice would be to listen to your heart and let it take you where it may. So many people get wrapped up in what friends and family has to say about their dreams and goals, but if you never try, you will never know if you would have succeeded.



20 Jun

This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Danny Lawn. Danny began training at the late age of 12, at a small studio in Brockville, Ontario. He jumped right into competitive dance and fell instantly in love. After only one year of training in jazz, ballet, and minimal tap, he knew this was his passion! Danny trained for three years at the Brockville Thrill Dancers before leaving and continuing his training at Denise Smith Dance Studio in Manotick, Ontario. He began to broaden his horizons and train extensively in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, acro, and hip hop with some of the countries most influential choreographers.

Once Danny had graduated from high school, he immediately accepted a contract as a dancer on board Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. He spent six months working with some incredibly talented people and travelling the world for free, but it was coming back to reality that made him realize he needed to make the move to Toronto.
Moving out to the big city at the age of 19 was a big step for Danny, one that proved to be very worthwhile. He had the fortunate opportunity of training closely with choreographers Linda Garneau, Tiffany McLean, Faye Rauw, Mikeal Knight, Eryn Waltman, Leon Blackwood and Luther Brown to name a few. During the summer of 2008, Danny was cast as the male lead of a stage production entitled “Red City: Society In Motion” that was a collaborative fusion of different dance styles. He then started back up dancing for the contestants of CBC’s hit summer television show, “How Do You solve a problem Like Maria?” Soon after, he started working on industrial shows and had the opportunity to dance for such artists as Kreesha Turner, Susie McNeill, Shiloh and Katy Perry.
In December 2008, Danny appeared as a company dancer in Helix Dance Project’s annual contemporary production entitled “RAIN: life in full bloom”. During this time, Danny was also assisting choreographer’s Clarence Ford and Sean Cheesman on the first season of CTV’s “So You Think You Can Dance Canada”. In 2009, he took the next step in his career and made it to the Top 14 spot on CTV’s season 2 of “So You Think You Can Dance Canada”. After the show, he had the chance to work closely with Blake McGrath on his new music video “The Night”, and has just finished working with Shawn Desman on his new video “Shiver”, and Keshia Chante on her new video “Table Dancer”. Danny has been assisting numerous choreographers on both SYTYCD Canada and various conventions, including Stacey Tookey, Blake McGrath, Shannon Mather, Tokyo, and Mia Michaels. He went on tour with Blake McGrath promoting his new album, “TIME TO MOVE” and just finished filming two new feature films entitled “Frenemies” and “COBU 3D”. He has recently been a guest performer at various industrial galas, competitions and fashion events, and is planning on moving to LA this summer to further his dance training.
Danny continues to train in all styles and verse himself in many different forms of dance. He is constantly taking, and teaching class around Toronto, and continues to audition as much as possible. Check out what he had to say in this weeks shout out……Bio provided by Danny

Nikki:Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Danny: The first time I remember dancing was when I was 12 years old and was cast in the children’s chorus of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. I had watched my sister dance for as long as I could remember and knew there was something about it that I loved, but that was the first time I had ever tried. A year later, at the age of 13, I started dancing competitively at a studio in my hometown of Brockville, Ontario.


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

Danny: The first song I ever choreographed to was “Rhythm of the Night”. SO embarrassing hahaha I was 14 when I choreographed this group and was so in love with the idea of making up my own routines and experimenting with different visual transitions and formation patterns. I was so lucky to have a studio owner who gave me the opportunity to expand on my passion and explore different venues. Without that free reign, who would have known if I had realized my passion for choreography?


Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Danny: I used to hate free styling!!! I thought it was something that you were born with the ability to do and that it just came naturally to certain people. My biggest piece of advice for dancers when it comes to free styling is to train it like you would train technique. Anyone can be good at free styling as long as you clear your mind, take your time, listen to your body, and forget about anyone else who may be in the room. You can’t ever be “bad” at free styling. Everyone moves in a way that’s unique to him or her. Take the time to study your body and what feels comfortable to you and it will come naturally with time.


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

Danny: In order for me to choreograph I have to be in the right mood. I’m never able to create movement when I’m tired or forced to do so. I have to be inspired, both by movement and by a song, and when it comes to routines I usually need to be inspired by a concept as well. It also helps when I have my assistant with me during the process because I often get distracted and stuck at certain parts and can’t go on without help.


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

Danny: I’ve been influenced by lots of people in the dance industry, but some of the choreographers who I’ve worked closely with and who have inspired me in both dance and choreography are TOKYO, Shannon Mather, Stacey Tookey and Dee Caspary. All three move and choreograph in such different and unique ways from one another, but are all equally as talented and passionate. I love and appreciate TOKYO’s flexibility techniques and movement quality, Shannon’s hard-hitting and powerful choreography, Stacey’s conceptual partnering and technical movement, and Dee’s fluidity and insane musicality.


Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Danny: There are numerous Toronto choreographers whom I enjoy working with, however I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with Linda Garneau, Eryn Waltman, and Tiff MacLean these past 3 years, and have become the dancer I am today because of it. Linda’s free and organic, yet technical movement is like no other and the atmosphere in her rehearsals is the most fun and enjoyable. Eryn’s intricate and musical choreography has challenged my mind and body in so many different ways and working so closely with her has expanded my knowledge and ability immensely, and without Tiff I would not have even half of the technique or passion for dance that I have today.


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

Danny: One of my favorite artists to work with by far is Shawn Desman. I worked with him on his music video for “Shiver” and have never had so much fun on set before. He was so kind and generous and always did whatever he could to make all of us comfortable and happy. He was so much fun to work with and I hope I’ll get the chance to do so again in the future.


Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Danny: Right now I’m guest performing at various industrial events, competitions, and galas along with teaching workshops across the country. I just finished filming a new Disney movie entitled “Frenemies” and am currently doing work on another movie entitled “COBU 3D”. I also just recently got approved for my working visa in the states and am planning on moving to LA this summer.


Nikki: What was it like being part of SYTYCDC Top 20 season 3?

Danny: Being a part of the Top 20 of SYTYCDC Season 2 was an intense rollercoaster of emotions, but an incredibly amazing experience at the same time. It taught me so much about dance and so much about myself as a person. It made me so much more versatile than I was going into it and instilled a very big appreciation for other styles of dance in me. I look back on it now and wish more than anything I could do it over again, but I still had such a blast and came out of it with the most amazing lifelong friends on the planet.


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Danny: I feel as though Toronto dancers are the hardest working and most persistent dancers around. They’re also some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Moving to Toronto from a small town without knowing a single person was terrifying, but it helped a great deal when after the first class I took at OIP people were introducing themselves, getting my number and showing interest in getting to know me. I look forward to going to auditions in Toronto because you know that everyone’s working their absolute hardest and fighting until the end, but the second you leave the studio it’s like a big giant reunion. The work ethic and atmosphere in this city is like no other and I’m so proud to say that I’m a part of it.


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

Danny: If I were to give advice to emerging dancers planning on working in Toronto, it would be to always be in class training and to attend every audition that comes through the city. Being in class not only works your technique and ability to pick up choreography on a regular basis, but it keeps your face out there and on choreographer’s minds. So many jobs come from people you know or have taken class from so it’s always important to be fresh in those people’s minds. As for auditions, it’s so important to make it a priority to attend each and every one even if you feel like it may not pertain to you. You never know what the casting director is looking for regardless of whether it’s for that particular job or for upcoming projects. It’s so important to be fresh in everyone’s minds.





13 Jun
This weeks Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Onika Powell aka NEEKS. Born and Raised in Toronto, Neeks began dancing at a young age training in Caribbean Folk and African dancing. Continuing to nurture her natural abilities she branched out into the Urban Dance Community in high school and joined one of Toronto’s most prominent female Hip Hop crews RUKUS,  training under the direction of Diana Webley. She’s been fortunate to train and work not only with her RUKUS Family but also under the direction of Toronto’s own Luther Brown, Tanisha Scott and JaeBlaze as well as choreographers like Fatima Robinson, HiHat and JaQuel Knight. She can be seen featured in videos for Sean Paul, Diddy, Rihanna and many more. She currently co-choreographs and dances for Kardinal Offishall, and has done live stage shows for Nicole Scherzinger, Black Eyed Peas and Massari to name a few. She invests time into training and teaching others here in Toronto, Vancouver and most recently Bermuda. Neeks’ continues to use her talents to travel, building and sharing her craft mostly focusing on Hip Hop and Dancehall. She has used her natural performance abilities to tap into the world of acting appearing in Hellcats, How She Moves and Honey. She has spent the last year and a half living in Vancouver before recently making the move to London, England. Continuing to pursue her dreams living by the motto that “Everything happens for a reason, just don’t question the reason.” Find out what Neeks had to say in this weeks shout out…..
Bio written by Nikki
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Neeks: I remember dancing at family functions and birthday parties (Must be that Trini blood…lol). My mother put me in a Caribbean dance group named SCYDE. That’s where I began training in Caribbean Folk and African dancing. It wasn’t til I was in high school where I started to train and dance in the urban community, and when I joined RUKUS, an all female Toronto Dance Group. 

Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Neeks:  I actually have no recollection of the first song I choreographed to. I was always a lover of other people’s choreography. I never really began putting my own moves and steps together until I joined RUKUS. That was the great thing about our choreographer Diana Webley, she gave the group room and opportunities to create and share ideas. I owe a lot to her. 

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Neeks: This is something that I continue to work on myself, but I will share some great advice that I have been given by some great choreographers I have been blessed to work with: Stick to what you do and know… especially in an audition. Also, take class when and if you can. Learning different styles really does help you evolve your own personal style. Lose yourself in the music. There is no right or wrong way to dance to a song. Free styling is YOUR interpretation. Dance to YOUR own beat of the drum. 

Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Neeks: Loud speakers and big mirror. I like to feel the music, as if I am at a concert or jam. Then I close my eyes, picture what I would like to see… open them and create in front of the mirror. Some of my best stuff comes from dreams, but that is whole other story. Lol. 

Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Neeks: So many artist, choreographers and dancers in the industry inspire and influence me; it’s impossible for me to name them all. Most recently I have been blessed to work with JaQuel Knight in Bermuda for a dance workshop and in London dancing for Nicole Scherzinger, and he has definitely made an impact on me. He is beyond talented and I don’t even think the world has begun to see his true talents. If you have worked with him you know what I am talking about. 

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Neeks:I absolutely love my Canadian choreographers… Diana Webley, Luther Brown, JaeBlaze, Tamla Matthews, Mark Samuels as well as fellow RUKUS member Latoya Webley, who I co-choreograph with for Kardinal Offishall. They all hold special places in my heart. I love their style and passion for their craft. They all have a lot to do with the dancer I am today. I am forever grateful. 

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Neeks: That is a tough one. I guess I would have to take it back home and say Kardinal Offishall. The energy he puts into his work and performances is CRAZY. I have been dancing for him for about 8 years and we are like family. He allows and trusts me with the choreography and does not have a problem in jumping in for one or two steps. When we are on stage, it’s one big family. He checks in on me on projects outside of his own and I appreciate that. It’s a blessing to have worked with him all these years. 

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Neeks:  I just recently moved to London, England and it has been a true blessing. I danced for Nicole Scherzinger on Britain’s Got Talent and we are doing Summer Time Ball Concert at Wembley Stadium. I am headed back to Vancouver next week to do some workshops, shoot a new movie called Rags and perform with Kardinal Offishall for 94.5FM The Beat Beach Ball Concert. 

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Neeks: Speaking from my experience and where I have travelled, I would say our style MIGHT be a little different if anything. We have a big performing dancehall community that I have not yet to see anywhere else other than Jamaica of course, and still yet not when it comes to females. I think because Toronto is culturally diverse, our dance community also reflects that and we are able to adept anywhere in the world. 
Nikki:Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto? 
Neeks: Love what you do and invest in your craft. Research, research, research. Anybody who knows me knows that the Internet is my best friend. Interact and learn from others; see what works for them and what would work for you. Everyone has his or her own path, so embrace your own. I promise the universe will make room for you, if it was meant to be. Faith, Family and Friends have been my source for motivation and strength thus far… the best advice I can give is to FIND YOURS. 


6 Jun
T.D.O.T. The Dancers of Toronto is dedicating this weeks Dancer /Choreographer shout out to Jennifer Robichaud and NIGHT OF ESSENCE “SHE ROCKS” a Dance and Entertainment showcase Produced by Kay Ann Ward T.D.O.T.’s Feb 7th shout out. Jennifer will be taking the stage with Choreographer/Performer Jase Cozmic (Jason Yorke-Best). Get to know Jenniffer and her company Larchaud Dance Project, come out to watch them perform at Night of Essence JUNE 12th at 6 DEGREES Event venue.

Holding an Honours BFA from York University, Jennifer Robichaud has had extensive dance training in many disciplines, specializing in jazz and contemporary forms. Jennifer co-founded Larchaud Dance Project in 2004 and currently holds the position as Artistic Director. Jennifer also works with Anandam Dance Theatre (Precipice/11, Confluence/10) and AKA Dance, and has a range of commercial and video work. She was a featured choreographer on the Gemini nominated documentary series Freedom which airs on Bravo. Presently, Jennifer teaches at Alyona Dance Studio, U for Change, IHAD (Scarborough Arts Council), and resides as the guest adjudicator on the entrance jury to St. Elizabeth Secondary School’s Regional Arts Program. She leads countless workshops in the city as part of Larchaud Dance Project, and is involved with youth programming and initiatives. Jennifer is a member of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Dance Ontario, and is currently a juror for the 2010/11 Dora Awards.
Jennifer Robichaud-Artistic Director (Choreographer/Performer)

Larchaud Dance Project is committed to creating dance art that pushes boundaries, that engages all audiences, and that exposes new audiences to dance through mainstream culture. We are dedicated to producing work that is accessible to everyone, and that is layered to appeal to all ages. Larchaud Dance Project delivers a preservation of the technique and standard of breaking from some of the city’s originators with an array of contemporary styles. Through these combinations has evolved a hybrid form of dance and partnering that has become stylistically linked to the company. We are dedicated to creating art that questions the harsh realities of today’s world, engages youth, and acts as a vehicle for social change. Larchaud is constantly strives to offer both dance forms to highly diverse audiences. We are consistently known for weaving a story through dance, theatre, and film, bridging the gaps between culture, class, and gender. This Toronto based company has been nationally and internationally recognized for its vibrant workshops, cutting edge choreography, and multimedia performances. Select choreographic and performance credits with Larchaud include LDP productions (Game Over, Back to X, Caution, SHINJIRU, Stript Bare,) Illuminite, Beats Breaks and Culture, Nuit Blanche, Fringe (Shanghai, China), TIDF, Wintercity Festival and many more. Find out what Jennifer had to say in this weeks shout out………. Bio provided by Jennifer

Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?

Jennifer: I know I started taking lessons when I was 4, but lessons and dancing are different. I think I started dancing for myself and out of necessity around the age of 14. There was a lot of craziness in my life, and it was my only constant and means of expressing myself. It has stayed that way ever since.

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

Jennifer: Must have been Michael Jackson. If not – Paula Abdul’s Cold-Hearted Snake (secretly wishing to be her back-up dancer at age 8).

Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?

Jennifer: Exactly what the name says – Do What You Feel. That’s the only way you’ll develop your OWN style, there’s a lot to be said for authenticity.

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

Jennifer: Instead of trying to get into a mind state to choreograph, I let it come to me. I work really late at night; I think it helps to be able focus on your own creative energy without the distraction of the outside. There’s something very sacred and intuitive about artistic expression, and I find this is heightened when the rest of the world is quiet.

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

Jennifer: If I had to think of dance icons – Madonna, Louise Lecavalier, Michael Jackson, Bob Fosse. But at this point in my career, I’d have to say my Larchaud co-choreographer Jase Cozmic. He is one of the most versatile and strongest performers I’ve ever worked with or watched. He is creative, unique, and passionate. Both our similarities and differences are what enable me to push past previous work, and to keep everything new all the time.

Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?

Jennifer: Brandy Leary – the Artistic Director of Anandam Dance Theatre. She’s the only person I’ve worked for who is crazier than I am, with ideas by the minute. Brandy will constantly push her performers theatrically; while we are dancing, spinning on straps, doing acrobatics, hanging off ropes 40 ft in the air, doing extreme lifts on staircases…you know…everyday stuff…

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

Jennifer: Amon Tobin, Venetian Snares, MRK1 are all artists that I’ve used for Larchaud Dance Project. But I tend to switch it up for each show.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Jennifer: On Sunday June 12, 2011 Larchaud Dance Project will be showcasing a small excerpt of choreography, “Etched” from our upcoming production Elegant Beast. The showcase is called Night of Essence and Kay-Ann Ward produces it. The first Night of Essence Dance and Entertainment Showcase is dedicated to the amazing and talented ladies we have in and around our city. This night is called Night of Essence “She Rocks”

The full-length version of Elegant Beast will premiere as a Dance Works Co Works production May 30th -June 2nd, 2012 at Theatre PassEtched is 3-minute section of a 50-minute show, and takes it’s inspiration from the television show True Blood. 

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Jennifer: They are extremely diverse, as we live in a city that is constantly being influenced by the music, fashion, art, and history of many cultures.

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

Jennifer: Work together and respect other artists. Everyone wants to compete for his or her moment in the spotlight, but after your moment being “the next big thing” they will be the only ones who will continue to support you. And to work on personal artistry and style, because an amazing performer is amazing because of their energy and passion, not their tricks. While tricks and technique can get boring, style and presence are timeless.