Archive | July, 2012


30 Jul

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Grace Kaya. Grace  is a multi-disciplinary, multi-sensory performing artist with over 20 years of teaching and performing experience. As the founder of blesSINGS & abunDANCE Grace has worked in 8 different countries sharing unique workshops and performances for both children and adults alike. Some of you may recognize her by a previous name, Shugamai Johnson… but after recovering from 2 concussions 3 years ago she legally changed her name to Grace Kaya as a reminder of how blessed she felt.

Some highlights from her impressive career range from facilitating workshops in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland & Australia, dancing on street corners in Thailand, in clubs on tour with a Hindi pop singer in India, performing as a show girl on a cruise ship in Mexico, dancing with big name artist like Rihanna, Ricky Martin, Seal, Mstr Krft, Tommy the Clown, Bobby McFerrin, and K-OS, cameoing in 14 music videos, the Universal studios Honey movie, in choreography by Mia Michaels in New York City, opening for 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Cyndy Lauper in Toronto… and even having her unique Liquid style captured for characters in an X-Box video game. Before dancing professionally she trained and performed with a circus troupe for 5yrs, specializing in the aerial apparatus spinning hoop and being a part of a stacking bike team. As a singer-songwriter she’s written, recorded and independently released 4 albums of music. Her artPLAY acrylic paintings have exhibited in 3 countries. Grace Kaya is certified in Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative & Kids Yoga. She holds certificates in Thai Reflexology, Axiatonal Attuning Therapy & Beginner Shiatsu. With her new company Gracious Expansion, Kaya works full time as a yoga instructor, healing arts practitioner and group facilitator. It is her great aspiration to support others as they open up to their own authentic artistry and personal potential. 

“Lead those behind, lovingly. Follow those ahead, graciously.” 

Bio and Quote provided by Grace


 Grace Kaya Youtube Page 

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

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

Grace: I was 3 years old and in Jamaica with my brother and our parents for their honeymoon (as they hadn’t been able to take when they first got married 9 years before)… my parents left my brother and I with a lovely local babysitter who worked at the small hotel we were staying at and by the time our parents got back from a little day excursion I had learnt how to “wine up” my hips 😉

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

Grace: When I was about 6 years old a friend and i started choreographing little routines to 50 and 60’s music… i recall having made up dances to songs like “One Eyed Purple People Eater” and “Short Shorts”… this was because my mother bought me “Golden Oldies” cassette tapes from a gas station when we went on long family drives to try to entertain and keep my brother and i quiet while on long drives. Back before we had ipods, ipads etc.

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

Grace: Find your own inner voice, give permission for your body to move in new ways… play with dynamics in physical rhythm and within the music, don’t be afraid of appearing silly or of trying something new… the more freedom you gift yourself when you practise freestyling the greater your creative ingenuity will become.

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

Grace: Depends on what I’m choreographing ie, who will be dancing in it, what the venue looks like and who my audience is… but i often create the framework of the piece in my head, then play with the movements in small spaces. I imagine this may be because i started choreographing in my childhood room and had little space to manoeuvre, so i grew accustom to creating things small than inflating them once i entered into a studio with the dancers.

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

Grace: Toronto freestylers from the late 90’s… we use to have a blast tearing up the dance floor… dancing together, sharing space and energy… even if we were battling it was less about a winner and more about showcasing our skills… seeing how we could all play off one another… a few big ups to old friends and kindred dancing spirits like Jesse Bones, wombcrew, my home girl Tre Armstrong, Elaine“Jynx”Young, Lisa Green, Dirty Dale (back when he was dancing more than Djing), Marianno, Benzo, Fly Lady Di… just to name a few.

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

Grace: Esie Mensah, she is a soul-full mover and shaker, whom i trust both creatively and in friendship. She is a visionary with a good heart, who is passionately respectful of her own work, the creative process and those she invites into her pieces.

Nikki: Name one of your favorite artists to work with and why? (It does not have to be a pop star any type of artist that a Dancer would work with i.e.; another Dancer, Choreographer, Musician etc.)

Grace: Hmm, I’ve been blessed to work and co-create with many inspiring artists… I’m having trouble picking just one so here’s 4 (tee hee)…Earlier in my career Mia Michaels invited me to dance in a Ricky Martin music video, but the highlight of working with her was being asked to open and close her Mia Raw show in NYC with some of my Liquid freestyle
Bobby McFerrin: it was a spontaneous treat jumping on stage and create an improvography piece with this master musical maestro
Seal: of all the “popstars” that I’ve worked with over the years, he was the most humbling and gentle person i had ever met… he walked around the shoot introducing himself, asking the names of each individual (from dancer to caterer) and then with a hand shake, expressed personal gratitude to each person, Amazing, a true Artist!
And lastly, but not least, local dance artist Miko Sobreirra: I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of dancing duets with Miko over a span of 14 years… the intimate space we find ourselves in is enlightening, enlivening and truly a spiritual experience… i look forward to continuing an exploration of life through movement with him for many years to come

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Grace: I’ve always got something on the go with one of my two companies. The first focuses on creative outlets, an umbrella company called “blesSINGS & abunDANCE” offering workshops, classes, facilitation and performances that inspire, educate and uplift. Using dance, music and painting as tools for personal development.
The second company is “Gracious Expansion”, an umbrella company which focuses on group, private and corporate sessions in Yoga, Thai Reflexology & Acupressure. Since my body has been such a loving vessel to me all these years, I decided to repay it with loving kindness and care as well. I’ve found that these healing modalities are excellent ways of up keeping and “tuning up”my vehicle (my body.)

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Grace: I’m part of the old schoolers and am just getting to know the younger generation (which might themselves no longer be considered the “younger generation”)… but in all dancers within the commercial industry i see a hunger for acceptance and opportunities to showcase their skills. Making a living as a dancer in Toronto is no easy feat, regardless of ones genre, it takes patience, persistence, impeccable timing and a willingness to be open and kind to all people… as you never know who might help you out in the future (or who you might be able to help out.) It might not always feel like this, but we are a community… and regardless of the sense of competition that inevitably shows up in the industry portion of our world, we owe it to ourselves to treat each other with mutual respect, dignity and compassion… that way we may all thrive.

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

Grace: Imagine that you are in line with a glorious community of uniquely talented artists; dancers, choreographers, teachers, producers etc… sometimes you’ll be in what seems to be the front, sometimes you’ll be in what appears to be the back of this line, and other times it might even seem as if you are in the middle… But the truth is that you are actually in a circle, a beauty-full sphere which changes directions on a whim… from year to year, from day to day, perhaps even from moment to moment… where ever you are at varying stages of your career… front, back, middle… try to remember to “Lead those behind, lovingly and follow those ahead, Graciously.”




23 Jul

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Scott Fordham. Born and raised in Deux-Montagnes, Quebec, Scott started his dance journey in Montreal’s underground. From Hip Hop to dancehall he could be seen burning up dance floors and lighting up stages across the city. It was not until he made his move to Toronto where he was exposed to jazz funk and, while keeping his urban foundation, developed his own style which contains elements of Hip Hop, Dancehall, African and Jazz Funk. His choreography is notoriously hard-hitting and challenging all while capturing his love for music.

Scott has worked with recording artists by the likes of Nelly Furtado, Anjulie, Deborah Cox, Cascada, Jully Black, Divine Brown, Azari & III,  Kreesha Turner and Danny Fernandes to name a few, while opening for artists such as Katy Perry, LL Cool J, Shirley Bassey and Monica. He has also worked with top industry choreographers Luther Brown, Jae Blaze, Tre Armstrong, Mel & Chanti and Jaquel Knight (Single Ladies) among others. Scott’s work has been seen on Much Music, Mtv, Fashion Television, City TV and in music videos on various stations. Additionally, Scott was a “Guest International Choreographer” on ABC’s American Music Awards red carpet special in 2010 in Los Angeles.

More recently, Scott put on his first major solo production on entitled “Limitless” on October 15th, 2011 at Toronto’s St Lawrence Centre for the Arts where he and his cast of 43 dancers displayed his unique style of choreography in a high-energy and memorable showcase. Also, Scott was involved for the third consecutive year with City TV’s New Year’s Eve Bash in Nathan Philip’s Square, Canada’s undisputed #1 New Years Eve special while choreographing for Anjulie. He followed up this performance by Choreographing at the 2012 Juno Awards again for Anjulie in Ottawa and most recently at the 2012 Much Music Video Awards for Nelly Furtado.


 Bio provided by Scott

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottFordham

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Scott on You Tube

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

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

Scott: My first performance marked my first attempt at dancing and choreographing. It was during my graduating year of high school and I performed and choreographed a number in the annual variety show. I was 16. The show turned out great and shocked friends and family but I did not really venture into dance until I was 21 aside from hitting the clubs.

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

Scott: Absolutely! It was Usher’s “U R the One” from his 8701 album. I still remember the opening 8 count…well, sort of… 

Nikki: What made you decide to move from Montreal to Toronto?

Scott: I knew I wanted to work with recording artists and on the commercial side of dance. I left Montreal once I decided to make choreography my career so I could throw myself into a larger and new market to give myself that push. It put me in survival mode and so I was hungry to do it and do it well! I am always looking to re-create that situation which is what made me start to dip into the UK market and soon I will be 

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

Scott: I would say be you and do you! When it comes to free-styling, you want to stand out. In an audition, you want to be noticed but know what choreographers, producers, artists, directors etc. are ultimately looking for and play on that. The “Free” part allows you to approach movement in any way you desire and the “Style” part is where we see you and what sets you apart.

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

Scott: I definitely listen to any song involved a few times and then step away and go about other tasks that need to be done that are not dance related. This allows the song to sit in my body and really affect me. I later return to listen again and then I stage the show. I see how I want the show to move or flow and how many bodies I want first. The actual moves come later on. Sometimes I do the lights out with candles thing or go somewhere where crowds of people are rushing around and watch them but my favorite is being by water as you can see and hear a different rhythm every time. It really depends on the song and the energy I want to see in the piece or project. 

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

Scott: Before I began choreographing names like Wade Robson, Tina Landon & Paula Abdul were definitely on my radar and impacting me artistic side as well as artists such as Usher, Janet & Britney. Now, choreographers with careers Brian Friedman and Frank Gatson Jr inspire me. Mia Michaels fascinates me and no artist is hitting it like Beyonce right now, she gets it!

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

Scott: Of the choreographers I know who really rep Toronto, Luther Brown. He is extremely talented, clearly loves what he does.! A choreographer from my generation that I admire and have enjoyed working with is Stephanie Rutherford, I think she is a great talent and has a bright future ahead.  

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

Scott: That’s a tough one but I will say Deborah Cox. My first professional gig was choreographing for her. She is an artist who is not into gimmicks or too much of anything that takes away from the music. She has a straight-forward approach in the sense that she understands the power and talent she has with her voice and is secure with it. You see and feel that when she hits the stage.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Scott: I just finished choreographing for Nelly Furtado at the MMVA’s in Canada. As I answer these questions I am actually in London, UK choreographing a performance for Deborah Cox in Trafalgar Square and I head to Montreal next week to produce the follow-up performance of my show “LIMITLESS” that hit the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts last fall in Toronto. I am extremely excited for that performance. I have ongoing projects with Anjulie,  which keeps me busy and some artists who are set to make noise this fall. Get ready!

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Scott: Toronto dancers know how to perform! They love the “Lights”, they work the “Camera” and are always ready for the “Action”. Many of them are truly World-Class! You have dancers or choreographers like myself  that come from other cities and are hungry for jobs so Toronto-nians are always kept on their toes. It gives Toronto a really interesting and somewhat competitive dynamic.

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

Scott: Find your lane and stay in it! This is so important in my approach to life and dance. It is ok to broaden your lane but make sure you have one. Know what you want and where you want to go. Do not try and be the next “so-and-so” because you’ve lost before you’ve begun. Not every contract is for you , however, you will have your moment if your motives are true to your artistic self and you are willing to work hard. Dancers, work with choreographers who will push you and Choreographers, always follow your gut! Do not stage something that you think people want to see…Make them want to see more of what you just showed them!



16 Jul

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Mariano Abarca. Mariano is one of Toronto’s premier b-boys, and, unquestionably, an audience favourite. He is famous for his incredible footwork, and innovative style of intertwining popping, b-boying, and hip-hop. As an established Toronto b-boy, Mariano led his crew, “Bag of Trix” to international acclaim at “The Battle of the Year 1999” in Leipzig,Germany. Mariano’s crews have, furthermore, earned championship titles inUK,Korea, and here in Canada.

Mariano’s extraordinary style has allowed him to dance in several music videos, commercials, and television programs. Thus, he has worked with artists such as Vivica Fox, Tom Green, Mya, K-OS, Wyclef, Arrested Development, Grand Master Flash, De La Soul, Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock – to name a few. Remarkably, he was provided the exceptional honour of performing for the Prince of Wales. Currently, Mariano is working with ABS crew to develop his ideas and style into a full-length stage production. Mariano Abarca is a role model, an innovator, and a true urban artist.

Bio provided by Mariano

ImageFollow Mariano on Twitter: @Mariano_Dance

@Caliente_Says (Comedy)

@ABA_ENT (Upcoming Events)
Add “Mariano Dance” “ABAEnt” to your facebook

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

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

Mariano: I was very young, it would have been on a Sunday afternoon as my mom cleaned the house.  She would always play salsa, merengue or cumbia.

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

Mariano: 1993.  A doubles routine in case someone wanted to battle.

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

Mariano: NO sets , dance to everything even music you dislike and let the music lead you.

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

Mariano: A song might initiate a thought or the concept comes first.

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

Mariano: My crew members from the past and present, the new generation of talented dancers and footage of Dance pioneers/TV Shows/Documentaries.

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

Mariano: Natalie Nesterenko.  Organized rehearsals, themed pieces and movement makes sense!

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

Mariano: The recording  group LEN.  I was able to travel with my bboy crew, not strangers.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Mariano: As a producer for ABA Entertainment Inc the BAZAAR DANCE SHOWCASE is now in Toronto, St John’s and next will be Montreal. There will be new events coming soon to engage Street and Choreography dancers

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Mariano: Toronto Dancers come in all shapes, disciplines and egos.

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

Mariano: Keep your ego in check and don’t learn from just one choreographer/instructor!!!






9 Jul

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Natasha Powell. A Toronto native, Natasha is not only recognized as an extremely versatile and passionate artist, but more importantly, a soulful mover.  Dance only started out as a summer activity that her mother enrolled her in, not knowing that Natasha was about to meet the love of her life at the age of 9 years old.  Her training started in ballet, jazz, and tap, then branched out to street dance forms hip hop, house, waacking, and funk styles.  Her extensive dance vocabulary stems from training across North America with some of the best in these forms.  As a performer, select credits TV and film credits include Nickelodeon’s “Spectacular!”, HBO Series “The L Word”, and “Centre Stage 2”.

In 2008, Powell became co-Artistic Director and Choreographer of Toronto dance company Catalyst; a collective that is highly-respected for their creative, dynamic, and versatile story-telling methods, through the use of their highly diverse vocabulary in movement.  They have performed and hosted dance workshops across the Greater Toronto Area.  They are most known for their work in the Toronto Fringe Festival titled “The 5th Element” which received raving accolades from NOW Magazine, and other theatre reviewers, and was nominated as BEST DANCE PRODUCTION in  the 2011 Broadway World Toronto Awards.

In 2011, she founded Soul Committed Productions, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the vital core element in urban dance: soul.  Through workshops, programming, and events, her aim is to foster, inspire, educate and build relationships between the artists and the people that support them.

Bio provided by Natasha

Check out Natasha’s website:

Follow Natasha on Twitter @TashaPowell 

Natasha on WordPress

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

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

Natasha: Dance has always been a part of my life.  I was exposed to it at first through all the house parties that my parents had.  Then myself, my cousin, and nephew decided that we wanted to make up routines and show them to the family!  After that my parents enrolled me in a dance summer camp, and that’s where it all began 🙂

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

Natasha: Ah yes – The three of us decided to do a Michael Jackson tribute.  So I choreographed a solo for myself to “Will You Be There”, and then we collaborated on choreographing a dance to “Black or White”. LOL!  We had props, costuming, and even put together a program for the family to come downstairs to watch what we put together!

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

Natasha: Just do it.  I know it’s easier said than done, but the more you practice, session, go out to clubs and dance, is the more confident you will feel in your skin.  Listen to music.  A lot of different music  Free style is essentially you having a conversation through dance, so tell us what your story is.  If you’re being asked to free style in a particular genre, than learn it’s foundation, and find ways to make it your own.  Be creative, and don’t think that you have to look like a certain person, be you.

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

Natasha: An idea, a question, or a theme.  Once there’s something in my mind that I’m interested in exploring, then I turn to music to see what’s inspiring and motivating to me at the same time.  Then at times it’s vice versa – I hear an amazing track that makes me what to do something with it.

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

Natasha: Girl there are too many to name.  My first and biggest influence, is not in the dance industry, and they are my parents.  I don’t know any couple that can burn a dance floor like they can.  But my mom is the epitome of poise, class, hot swinging hips, and most importantly: soul.  She is who I learned to be a lady from.  On and off the dance floor.

In the industry it would be Alvin Ailey, Complexions Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Debbie Allen, The Lockers, Elite Force, Dance Fusion, the entire MOP TOP family, Soul Train dancers, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robins, Crystal Pite, Nicholas Brothers, my Catalyst and DiscoLoveChild peeps

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

Natasha: Janet L. Castillo – she has the ability to see the big picture at times that I could never see.

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)

Natasha: One of them right now is Jasmyn Fyffe.  I’ve worked with quite few people who are super talented, but Jas possesses a quality that I highly value and rarely see: professionalism.  There aren’t too many people who are reliable, communicate effectively, eager and willing, and overall just hard working.  She is a joy to work with and a true professional.

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Natasha: I’ll be performing at the Harbourfront Centre’s Hot n Spicy Festival on July 22nd, and producing a dance workshop series called Higher Learning on July 28th.  Higher Learning is dance workshop series dedicated to nurturing skills, and educating dancers about street dance.  This first installation will be with Moncell Durden aka iLL Kozby from Philly.  Education is something that is very important to me, and as new generations of dancers emerge, I feel it’s important for them to understand where street dance truly comes from.

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Natasha: Rawness, soul, diversity.  Because Toronto is such a multi-cultural city we hone all the things that the city is.

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

Natasha: Listen to your heart, and your gut.  Be professional (PLEASE), let go of your inhibitions.  Realize your worth.  You will have a lot people who will try to put you down and judge you (even your own friends and family), but stay strong and remember why it is that you dance.  Once you know why you, everything else will happen in it’s due course.  Being a dancer is like being in a relationship.  It’s the longest roller coaster I’ve ever been on; scary, fun, all of the above.  But at the end of the day, if you truly love it, you will survive.



2 Jul

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Alvin Collantes. Originally for Mississauga, Ontario, Alvin discovered his passion from dance accidentally at eighteen years old while attending his first year of studies at The University of Western Ontario. He stumbled upon a local dance studio in London and spontaneously decided to register for eight adult recreational ballet classes. Completing his two years of undergraduate, Alvin decided to postpone his academics in order to intensively train in all styles of dance including ballet, improvisation, modern, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom and latin. Alvin attended the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, where he obtained his core strength and training in Contemporary and Graham technique. While in school he had the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers including Darryl Tracy, Julia Sasso, Robert Kingsbury and Sharon Moore. His idiosyncratic and unique contemporary style has further developed through this experience.

Recently, Alvin was fortunate enough to live in New York City for a few months to work with renowned choreographers including Igal Perry, the Artistic Director of Peridance Capezio Center, Brian Norris, the Artistic Director of Men On Pointe Ballet Company as well as Max Stone. Along with this experience, he was very lucky to have done an internship with one of the most leading fashion PR agencies in the world, BPMW Agency. His exposure to the Fashion Industry has given him the opportunity to integrate this knowledge into his style of movement.

Alvin continues to perform in all types of events including weddings, corporate events, birthday parties, dance recitals, Nuit Blanche, outdoor festivals and charity shows. Alvin is highly involved and grateful to be a part of the Toronto dance community and continues to grow as an artist while guest teaching and choreographing for studios across Ontario. He is very thankful to have had the opportunities to get his choreographic works featured on shows such as Toronto’s Original Choreographer’s Ball and The Bazaar Showcase. Alvin continues to prove that with constant dedication and persistence anything is possible.

Bio provided by Alvin

Check out Alvins You Tube

Follow Alvin on Twitter @AlvinCollantes


Find Out What Alvin had to say in this week’s shout out….


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

Alvin: The first time I started dancing was in my first year of school at The University of Western Ontario. I was super stressed out with mid-terms and exams and so I spontaneously decided to take adult recreational ballet classes at  a local dance studio. I felt that going outside of my comfort zone would help me de-stress and relax my mind. After my first ballet class, the rest was history.

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

Alvin: Idioteque – Radiohead

I totally fell in love with this song and really embraced my weird personality and style. I admire artists like Thom Yorke who are not afraid to express themselves and take really bold risks in order to cultivate their gift. 

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

Alvin: Free styling to me is a simple definition of dance. Choreography and structure becomes second nature because when dancers go to an audition, it usually starts with a freestyle round. It takes a lot of trust, inspiration and creativity to be able to move without thinking. 

When free styling:

– Try to think of visuals, pictures, images, textures and volume

– Take your mind to a place you’ve never been before

– Make sure that your mind is very relaxed and refreshed

– Listen to the music and let your body react to what you’re hearing

– Trust your body and trust your technique

– Never hold anything back

– Be Present

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

Alvin: I have this mindset where I make sure that I am inspired by a concept, an idea, an object or a situation before going into choreography. I study the music and I try to figure out how it was created and produced. Music to me is always a marriage to the movement. The movement should respond to how dancers interpret the music along with the inspired idea. After a few improvisational exercises and play, then the choreography begins. 

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

Alvin: In Toronto, some of my biggest influences are Darryl Tracy, Eryn Waltman, Hayley Paone, Haley McPherson and  Robert Kingsbury. These are some of the artists that I do admire very well because they acknowledge that their artistry is inspired by how they live their lives everyday. They all have very unique perception of dance and I really admire their own interpretation of it.

In New York, Max Stone really inspired me to accept who I am as a dancer, creator and a mover. Regardless of the lack of my technical experience, I have embraced my artistry be being able to accept my imperfections, embrace them and integrate them as part of my artistry. 

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

Alvin: I really enjoy working with Hayley Paone, the artistic director of inhale Dance Company simply because I have a great connection with her not only as a choreographer but also a mentor and a friend. She has helped me a lot to be open with my emotions and being able to relate it into my dancing. 

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)

Alvin: If I was living my dream, I would love to work with Stephen Petronio Dance Company. I saw Stephen Petronio Dance Company perform at the Joyce Theatre in New York and their world premiere piece entitled “The Architecture of Loss” has inspired me so much. He was able to incorporate fashion designers, visual artists, and live musicians into the creative process of this piece and I would love to take part of his company and learn a lot from him as a dance mentor and artistic director.

Video: (

Nikki: Are you currently working on any projects?

Alvin:  Stay tuned – JULY 8th – I will be teaching a FREE Modern-Inspired Class on behalf of Tre Armstrong’s The Give Back Foundation. This event will be held at the National Ballet School of Canada. E-mail ( for more information

July 20 at the Royal Opera House for Lineen Duong’s Smile for a Cause Charity Showcase, I will be showcasing my latest choreographic work.


I am also promoting a brand new all male pointe ballet company called MEN ON POINTE based in New York City, for their upcoming tour in the fall! visit ( for more details!

I will also be guest teaching this summer in Toronto so e-mail me ( to subscribe and be in the loop or if you are a dance studio and is interested!

I am also working on various video projects involving some of the active members of the Toronto Dance Community in both commercial and classical / modern fields, email me ( for further inquiries and questions. 

Nikki: Qualities you think Toronto Dancers possess?

Alvin: Toronto Dancers have a lot of heart and pure motivation to be able to do what they do everyday as artists. Their talents are most of the time undervalued by either not getting paid or corporations not abiding by the payment agreement. It takes a lot of drive to be able to stay in this industry and I do believe it takes a very strong, mature and hard working dancer to be able to have a long lasting dance career in the industry.

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

Alvin: Evaluate every opportunity. Value yourself as an artist and always demand for compensation. You are allowed to say no to any gig that you think is not worth investing your time, your effort and money. Know that any professional paying gig can pay you more than they can initially offer. Learn how to negotiate and always think of your dance career as your own business. 



<p><a href=”″>Með suð í eyrum Performed by Alvin Collantes</a> from <a href=”http

Check out some of Alvin’s video editing work here>>