Archive | April, 2012


30 Apr

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Irvin Washington. Life and Dance play hand in hand for Irvin! Only a few years as a professional dancer in Toronto, he has done work with industries George Nozuka, Keisha Chante, War Child in Association with Much Music, Film work for Disney and The Family Channel. His career has brought him across Canada and over seas to Europe Opening for the likes of Danny Fernandes, Canadian Idol’s Eva Avila, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child and Toronto’s own Jully Black! Now as a proud member of Artist in Motion his passion and love for  dance keeps him working harder everyday to achieve his goals, “It’s My way of Life”!

Twitter  @irv2thamax

Find out what Irvin had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Irvin: I remember being at home as a kid there would be this show that came on all the time and for fun I would wear my church shoes and pretend they were tap shoes just to dance along with this man on the TV. It was so long ago I wish I could remember the title of it but I do remember the good feeling. The haste I’d make rushing to my closet to get my tap shoes and perform for my mom and dad. It’s funny because I have never shared that story and even though I loved dance I thought I was going to be a Lawyer 🙂 look at me now…

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

Irvin: Let’s see the first song I ever choreographed was Pump it Up by Joe Budden. I had made it into my first dance crew, The Dream Team and they needed someone fresh to bring in some Hip Hop Choreography. I loved it! So aggressive and very high energy.

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

Irvin:  Dance from your heart keep Going and don’t forget to find the Beat. With those 3 things you can’t go wrong. If your creative telling a story with your movement is always entertaining to watch.

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

Irvin: Zone? What zone? haha Choreography is constantly sweating out my pores! With endless rehearsals and shows, it’s hard to find a moment to sit down and really focus on steps or a concept. I’m often caught on the bus going through and creating steps right at the TTC bus stop…hmmm maybe that’s it. The pressure is the zone, it’s where the clarity comes right though as well as the movement. So to get me in the zone for choreography just light a fire under my (Toonchi, butt, ass, tush?)

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

Irvin: Some of my biggest influences in the Dance industry are Laurieann Gibson, Hollywood Jade, Esie Mensah, Leon Blackwood, Jae Blaze,Gadfly…the List goes on.

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

Irvin: I love working with Hollywood Jade because he has a gift for Producing and really bringing a story/concept/feeling to life. He’s helped me realized it’s more than just steps, It’s a Performance.

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

Irvin: It’s extremely recent but my Favorite artist to work with is Trish. She has a way of captivating the people around with her essence. I’ve dreamed of dancing for her so the opportunity is just out of this world for me. To see her strong work ethic and Talent to match who else could I call my Fav?

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Irvin: Right now The OG Crew is working with Trish for the ANTM Live Show,I’ll be performing at Pacha Lounge for Andre’s Cabaret, Derick Robinson and myself are choreographing a piece for the Bazaar and so many other odds and ends along the way. It’s truly a blessing because jobs just keep coming up!

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Irvin: Dancers of Toronto possess a Hunger for More. This I believe is extremely powerful and is exactly what is going to bring us to the next level as a city!

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

Irvin: If your here, Be Here. Show your face and get to know your community. Your opportunity may lie in the hands of the person or choreographer right beside you in class but you won’t get it if they don’t know you exist.




23 Apr

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Adam Sergison. A professional dancer, actor/singer, choreographer and teacher, Adam has worked with some of the industry’s most admired companies. Currently, he is on contract with Drayton Entertainment for 9 to 5: The Musical.  He recently danced the role of Tadzio in the Canadian Opera Company’s critically acclaimed production of Death in Venice.  Other stage credits include Snowboy in West Side Story (Vancouver Opera), Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats (Rainbow),Diesel inWest Side Story (Neptune)Peter Pan (Neptune) and We Will Rock You (Mirvish) as well as dance companies Grief: Another Common Bond (Fayez1) and Rain: Life in Full Bloom (Helix Dance Project).  He can been seen dancing in the Disney movies, Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars  and Camp Rock.   Adam also performs in industrial shows and has done a couple of national television commercials.  When not performing, he teaches workshops & choreographs at several studios in the GTA and has choreographed pieces for the Toronto’s Original Choreographers’ Ball.

Find out what Adam had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Adam: I was 3 at the time, and my sister is entirely to blame. She was taking a dance class at the local community centre and it was “Parents Day”. At the end of the dance, all the little girls were told to go get a family member to dance with. All the other little girls ran to their mothers, but my sister got me instead. Naturally, I followed her though sports and activities, but dance was the one that stuck.

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

Adam: I’ve got memories making up dances, but not exactly the songs I choreographed to. The first piece I ever did some choreography for was “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha with Faye Rauw’s dance company. I guess you could say my style has changed a lot since then – Ke$ha doesn’t usually make it into my choreography playlist anymore!

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

Adam: It depends on what the goal is. For personal dance growth? Allow your body to experiment. If you’ve seen it done before, don’t do it. Being blessed enough to explore the movement of your body shouldn’t be an excuse to “freestyle” a battement with your right leg. Be creative with how you approach things, and let your body make things you may conceive as “mistakes”. When it comes to free-styling for auditions? Know your strengths. They aren’t looking for a reason to hire you, but instead for a reason not to. So don’t give them one and show them everything you’ve got.

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

Adam:I’m most creative at night, so that’s when it usually happens for me. A great piece of music is essential, and sometimes I just put it on and freestyle to see where my body wants to go. I’ve been trying to scale back to just focusing on the choreography, since my tendency as of lately is to visualize the full million-dollar production before I’ve got the choreo done.

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

Adam: My personal style seems to evolve through the classes and people I’ve gotten to work with here in Toronto. Choreographers like Julia Cratchley, Steph Rutherford and Linda Garneau provide incredible inspiration and thought-provoking choreography that I admire. Taking their classes and delving into their choreo keeps me excited and striving too improve.

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

Adam: I’ve gotten the chance to work with Faye Rauw now many times, and most recently continued some of her pieces while she took a leave of absence to bring her beautiful daughter into this world. She’s a talented choreographer and wonderful friend who has really helped me progress over the years. The ease of which we communicate mixed with her absolutely amazing personality makes her one of my favourite people to work with, hands down.
I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Linda Garneau a bit, and find her inspirational in her method and design. She creates stunning pieces through detailed emotions and manages to capture the audience immediately. Her most recent project, “unEarth” was nothing short of a masterpiece, and I have fond memories of my time spent working on “Rain” a few years ago.

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

Adam: This one is tough. I’ve lately been focusing on my own dancing, so choreography has taken a backseat for now. It’s hard to pick just one artist when there are so many wonderful and talented dancers in Toronto. I’d like to throw a shoutout to those in my last choreoball piece; I’ve got some incredible friends that are extremely talented artists and a joy to work with.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Adam: At the moment, I’ve found myself more and more involved in the musical theatre world of Canada. I think musicals get a bad rap in the industry, when the fact is that they can be both lucrative and stable, yet still enjoyable. On occasion, the dance is amazing and extremely difficult. West Side Story and Cats are prime examples.

I am currently working at Drayton Entertainment on the musical “9 to 5”, and I’ve got some other great events on the horizon that I can’t wait to entertain. Nothing I’m ready to share yet, but you’ll see me around!

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Adam: I don’t think I’ve got a great answer for this one aside from “diverse”. There are so many different dancers in Toronto, with so many different styles and goals. And while success may seem a universal aspiration, its definition seems to differ from one to the next.

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

Adam: I think there is great value in learning differing styles and techniques. There isn’t always going to be work in your favourite style, which I find motivating. We’re a diverse city, with diverse opportunities. The more you train other styles, the more you’ll be ready for whatever gets thrown your way. Toronto has enough work for you if you are willing to open yourself up to other avenues: learn to sing, tap, act, beatbox, lock, flip, etc. and so many more doors will open.



16 Apr
This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Esmeralda Enrique. Thirty years ago, a young woman from Texas came to Canada after spending 13 years in Spain perfecting her artistry as a flamenco dancer.  She had trained, performed and toured with many of the best flamenco companies in great demand at the time (Paco Ruíz, Miguel Sandoval, Antonio del Castillo, Sara Lezana and Cristóbal Reyes).
Toronto offered opportunities to aspiring flamenco artists with popular venues like Don Quixote.  At the insistence of a very persuasive friend, Esmeralda Enrique came to Canada – a move that would profoundly change her life, make a huge impact on the Canadian dance scene and develop a generation of Canadian flamenco dancers that are unsurpassed.
Performing for the first time in Toronto, she saw her future husband in the audience.  He returned every night and finally they met.  The rest as they say is history.  Esmeralda stayed in Canada, married and in less than a year started both the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company and Academy of Spanish Dance.
The stars that aligned to bring Esmeralda to Toronto changed the legacy of flamenco in this city and in Canada.
Esmeralda has always kept her connections with Spain alive and over the years has brought more than 50 teachers and performers to join her company for EESDC’s Toronto Seasons and to teach at the Academy.  These vital links with flamenco artists from Spain sets Esmeralda and her company apart from other Canadian flamenco dance companies.  Her dancers have benefited from the cultural cross-pollination, remained current in their art and have been challenged to reach beyond their own expectations.
Esmeralda’s love of flamenco and her desire to share that with others has enriched many lives through the presentation of EESDC’s annual Toronto Season (part of Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps Series), its performances on main stages and at community festivals (Hispanic Fiesta since 1981, among others) and through classes at the Academy of Spanish Dance.
The Academy of Spanish Dance is recognized both in Canada and aboard as a centre for superior training in flamenco.  The Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company is broadly hailed for its innovation, versatility and artistic excellence. The company has achieved support from municipal, provincial and federal arts councils. Esmeralda and the members of the company have received over 11 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations and Esmeralda herself is the recipient of numerous awards including Guía Hispana’s Raices Hispanas Award 2003; and she was named one of 2008’s 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians by the Canadian Hispanic Business Association.
To sustain this dedication for 30 years is an accomplishment to celebrate and EESDC wants to share this legacy during its 2011-2012 season with its audiences, dancers, musicians and everyone one who has been part of the journey.

Find out what Esmeralda had to say in this week’s shout out…

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

Esmeralda: I don’t, actually. But I do remember always having dance in my life. One of the earliest recollections is of not being allowed by my teacher to perform a dance because I was too young, maybe all of seven years old.

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

Esmeralda: It was a flamenco piece that I worked on in my living room with my Mother’s help and encouragement. I performed it at my grade school.

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

Esmeralda: To let the music enter your body, to connect with all your senses, to let go of set routines or sequences and let the body move and do what it knows how to do.

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

Esmeralda:I read poetry; I study historical events and people and try to understand why things evolved as they did. I try to become more aware of the ordinary things that surround me daily because I believe in their importance. Architecture, sculpture, paintings, food and friends are a source of inspiration. All these things I try to let seep into my being and take in as much detail as possible, no matter how small.

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

Esmeralda:I was fortunate to have had teachers that gave me encouragement such as Victoria Eugenia and Luisa Triana. I also am influenced by many artists with whom I have worked, their professionalism on and off stage, dedication, work ethic and total commitment to the art.

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

Esmeralda: In my field of expertise, which is flamenco, I have not worked with other Toronto choreographers, but I have worked outside of flamenco with Andrea Nann, contemporary dancer, and Joanna De Sousa, kathak dancer. Andrea because of her commitment to the project, her ideas, suggestions and beauty of form and expressiveness. Joanna because of her perspective in dance, the similarities in style that both forms have and how we often were so in sync with each other’s ideas, almost without need to verbalize them.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc. Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)

Esmeralda: At the moment I am working with dancer/choreographer Juan Ogalla, from Spain, last year’s Dora Mavor Moore Award winner for Outstanding Performance. His choreographies are intellectually stimulating, of a high level of difficulty and are a pure joy to dance. He is also very friendly, demanding and helpful.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?


Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Esmeralda: As far as flamenco dancers go in recent years I have seen the level of understanding of the art and desire to learn more about it grow tremendously, which to me is an indication that the flamenco seeds that were planted here, in part by me some 30 years ago, have taken firm root and will thrive. Love and respect for the art and the desire to learn more, these are the best qualities these Toronto Dancers possess.

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

Esmeralda: I cannot emphasize enough that flamenco must be respected and cherished. We must study its history, while keeping current with todays evolution. It is a world cultural heritage, a beautiful, living art and we are the keepers of a sacred trust.



9 Apr

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Reshmi Chetram. Reshmi comes from an artistic family. She developed her love for dance- more specifically, for Kathak from her mother Deviekha Chetram. At a young age Reshmi was exposed to the artform as mother had founded the Tarana Dance Centre in 1989, allowing Reshmi to grow up hearing Tukras & Tatkar on a daily basis. From the young dancer to a young woman pursuing her love for the art- Reshmi’s passion is dance.


Since 2005 Reshmi has been traveling to New Delhi India to study under the guidance of Pandit Birju Maharaji. Having been exposed to his teachings & advanced students of Kalashram it has enriched Reshmi’s love for the artform – the beauty of Kathak, is that you never stop learning. Reshmi is the principal dancer for the Natya Arts Productions & Choreographer at the Tarana Dance Centre. Following along with her passion for dance, Reshmi is an entrepreneur in the Dance Industry. She founded two of her own companies ” BollyFit International & the Dance For Life Foundation. Reshmi is being recognized as an emerging artist in the dance industry, along with her passion for Kathak- she loves everything Dance. Reshmi has now gone onto reach out to others who share the same passion by teaching Kathak & Bollywood classes, BollyFit Fitness classes & showcasing Toronto based artists on a platform that raises funds for charity.


Reshmi has been featured on : BollyFit TV Series ( Host.) Breakfast Television, Rogers Daytime, WOW TV, ZoomerLifestyle, Daily Buzz,  in Tonic Magazine, Anokhi Magazine, Toronto Observer, Markham Economist . She has been a featured presenter at DivaGirl Conference, Zoomer Show & Moses Znaimers IDEACITY.


Follow Reshmi on twitter @reshmichetram


Find out what Reshmi had to say in this weeks’s shout out…

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

Reshmi: I can actually remember my first dance class. I was always eager to be in the classes. My mother, Deviekha Chetram is the Artistic Director of the Tarana Dance Centre &  I always remember running downstairs to see what she was teaching, and run back upstairs and practice in front of the mirror. I was 5 years old when I was put in my first dance class- I had to wait till I was 5 as all the other students did 🙂

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

Reshmi: Loot Gaye & Jiya Jale were my first pieces of Choreography. Loot Gaye was a fullout bollywood number & Jiya Jale was a semi classical blend.  I had worked hard on these numbers. When I say Hard, I mean I put alot of hours into thinking out formations and choreography, but it is what I love spending most of my time doing.

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

Reshmi: In Kathak dance, the idea of freestyling, is partnered with a live musician. We listen to the taal ( cycle of beats.) and can start wherever we please in the cycle  but must end on Sam ( first beat.) The adrenaline rush is exhilarating. It takes practice. From a non classical point, freestyling can be so liberating. Just remember, YOU are the dance do not be afraid to let go. When I say let go, I also mean let go of your training for that moment. I find that sometimes dancers feel that they have to perform a routine when doing freestyle.There is a different amount of energy when one is freestyling. You will surprise yourself, when you let go.

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

Reshmi: Dim Lights a cup of tea , and the track on repeat.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (Could be another Dancer, choreographer, musician etc.Doesn’t have to be from Toronto)

Reshmi: I have had the pleasure of working with many dancers in Toronto. More recently my path has crossed with Parul Guptas. She is a dancer from Montreal who has moved to Toronto. We met 3 years ago at Dance Intense Calcutta, where 19 dancers from all around the world were brought together for a 2 week intensive dance training program. At the time she was a Bharatnatyam dancer, she has worked hard & joined the Kathak world here in Toronto. It is a great feeling when you are on the same wave length with a fellow artist, the creative energy flows and so many great things are created.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Reshmi: Currently working on events leading up to International Dance Day & National Dance Week! In rehearsals with Parul Gupta for our piece for Natya Arts Productions Rhythm of Ghungroos Showcase. It will be a great event showcasing Torontos Leading Classical Dance Companies on one platform.  Secondly, my organization Dance For Life Foundations team is gearing up for Torontos first 12 Hour Challenge for Dance Companies! We are excited and looking forward to raising funds for charity with our fellow Dancers of Toronto! 

I am doing a call for auditions for ladies & gents who want to be a part of our Bollywood Dance Troupe! Need dancers who have at least 8 years of dance training , energetic and either love bollywood or want to try something new! We are gearing up for our summer season which is usually pretty booked!




Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Reshmi: Toronto Dancers reflect the city, they are diverse they are brave, bold and they show no restrictions or restraints in their dance. They reflect, embrace &  execute with passion.

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

Reshmi: Do not be afraid! Take as many classes as you can learn as much as you can. Be a sponge this is how you will find YOUR element. Your style will be  a blend of many things you have learnt along the way. The beauty of our art form is you will never stop learning, and there fore you will never stop being an innovation in itself.








2 Apr
This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Justin Lopes. From Simcoe, Ontario As a young male dancer Justin has made his way to the professional circuit via hard work and determination.  The strong supporters in his life have given him much strength and courage in every number he creates.   
Justin has performed in productions such as, Conteur’s “State Of Mind”, Crazy for You, and Celtic Thunder’s Storm.  He can also be seen in the Disney Movie “Harriet the Spy:  Blog Wars” and on YTV’s Finale of The Next Star Seasons 3 and 4.   He has also performed in Industrials such as LG Fashion Week, Bell Gala, Summer Rush, Toronto’s Interior Design Show, the Food Networks “Delicious Food Show”, and the Honda Gala.   Justin was fortunate to have worked with Stacey Tookey last summer in the workshop of the new stage production “Dancer”.  He has also had the pleasure of assisting choreographers on SYTYCDC. 
He has been in music videos for artists such as Blake McGrath, Kai, and Shazelle.  Justin toured with Blake McGrath earlier last year on his cross Canada tour, and has also performed for Blake in various shows. Justin has taught classes at various studios and Intensives, and has been invited to choreograph several pieces. In a short time, Justin has grown into a talented artist, and continues to pursue his craft, and always strives to grow as a performer and person.
Bio provided by Justin
Follow Justin on Twitter @justlopes
Find out what Justin had to say in this weeks shout out…
Nikki: Do you remember the first time you started dancing?
Justin: My first recollection of myself dancing would be at family events when I was really young. I remember busting moves in the middle of the dance circles at my cousins weddings and other events. One of my cousins actually has a video of me, when I was 4 or 5, dancing AND lip syncing to a Spice Girls song. lol Other than the family fun I started taking Jazz classes when I was 9 or 10 at a small local studio.
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory)
Justin:  The first thing I remember choreographing was probably when I got asked to sub a JR hiphop class back home when I was in Gr 10. Im pretty sure it was an attempt at a Krump combo to a J Squad song. HAH. My graduating year of high school I got asked to Choreograph a year end dance for the teaching faculty. This was my first legit full piece, and I used “U Cant Touch This”.
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling?
Justin: I’ve only started free styling these last few years since I’ve been up here training in TO. I used to hate free styling and I would get so nervous and awkward. Its only been since I’ve gotten more confident in my movement and not care about what i look like, that I’ve been comfortable to improv. Whether it be on my own, with friends, or on stage.
When it comes to improving, I like to think about making new interesting pictures and lines with my body. Forget about whats cool and what other people are doing; you won’t stand out and thats obviously not your own movement.  Just be yourself, and let the music take you somewhere different every time.
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you?
Justin:  I’m just recently getting more into choreography, but as for getting into the zone,  I like  getting into the song, and knowing how I’m going to draw and shade the piece of music. Sometimes free styling to the song a few times gets me inspired and gives me a clearer understanding of where I want to go.
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry?
Justin: I’ve had the privilege of working with and taking classes from a lot of dancers and choreographers in the industry, and have tried to take something away and learn from every one of them. I love how everyone is so unique and different. Some of my influences include fellow Canadians Stacey Tookey and Blake Mcgrath, whom I’ve had the privilege of working with. Other influences can range from Contemporary choreographers Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, Dee Caspary to others like Luther Brown, Gil Duldulao, and Wade Robson.
I am also very influenced by past and present teachers and choreographers whom I’ve been able to work with and train me on a day to day basis. They are the ones who have taught me to believe and never give up. To work hard and persevere and dance hard everyday, as if it were to be my last. You know who you are.
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why?
Justin: I’ve had the privilege of working a lot with Blake these last few years. I think he’s one the funniest people on earth. Blake was a great person to work with because he’s so ambitious and always knew what he wanted to portray with his work. There was always a clear vision. I’d like to thank him for all of the opportunities he has given me, and wish him the best of luck with his future.
These last few months I’ve had the opportunity of working with Eryn Waltman on the starting of her contemporary company “Conteur”. It has been an amazing experience to say the least. To see her creative process come to life was and is an amazing thing to be a part of. I can’t thank her enough for letting me be part of her creative image.
Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?
Justin: I’m currently working a contemporary company, Conteur. We had our first, amazing show last year. I can’t wait to start working on the next show! Working with this cast has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had! Thank you Eryn for letting me be apart of this amazing company!
Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?
Justin:  I think Toronto Dancers posses a great amount of passion and I believe that we are all real hard workers.
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto?
Justin:TRAIN and TAKE CLASS!! Nothing comes easy! You have to work hard and fight for what you want. Knowing that you’ve tried your hardest and gone as full out as you can is the best feeling at the end of the day. Dance everyday as if it were your last. Also, be humble. Don’t let an ego get in the way.