Archive | December, 2013


30 Dec

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Andrew “Pyro” Chung (of Toronto, Canada) Andrew is a professional dancer, performer, and street dance instructor/choreographer from Toronto, Canada. You may have spotted him on T.V, in movies, or touring around the world doing live stage performances. He has opened for artists such as Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, Hedley, Kardinal Offishall, Maestro Fresh Wes, and Black Eyed Peas. He has also been featured in productions such as The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA), the closing ceremony of the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico 2011 under the direction of Luther Brown (SYTYCD Canada judge).  And Dora Award winning production named Klorophyll presented by Gadfly.  
Pyro has also entered numerous dance competitions and battles over the last decade. In the last 2 years alone, he has won over 20 all styles championships in various events across North America.  Pyro has been awarded Dance of the Year by Gadfly in 2011 and 2012.  Also awarded Artist of the Year by Manifestos Floor Awards in 2012 and 2013.  

Pyro is more known for his freestyle abilities but a lot of his focus is towards the youth in his community.  Reaching out to the youth in his community in anyway we can, he teaches school workshops, after school workshops, studio classes, and also speaks at school assemblies with his crew Twisted Ankles Dance Crew and Unity Charity. 

Bio provided by Andrew 

andrew pyro toronto dancers

You Tube: Pyroill
Facebook: Pyro Twisted Ankles
Follow Pyro on Twitter: @pyro_twisted
Instagram: pyro_twisted 

Find out what Pyro had to say in this week’s feature…


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

Andrew: Hmmmmm…. I don’t remember anything specific because there was always a big dance influence in my life, seeing as how my older sister was a dancer. My mother put my sister and I into figure skating when I was young. I never thought of that as dancing but now that I think of it, it pretty much is. 
I remember copying Mr. Wigglez when I saw him in a Limp Bizkit music video when I was about 12 years old. That was probably the first time I found interest in some kind of street dancing. 
Nikki: Do you remember the first song you choreographed to? (Or your earliest memory) 

Andrew: Oh I definitely remember because I was so proud of myself for making such a hype choreography… but when I look at it now it was just HORRIBLE!!! LMAO!! 
It was to “Da Rockwilder – Method Man and Redman”
Nikki: Your personal advice for dancers when it comes to free styling? 

Andrew: “Do more, think less”
Don’t worry about your surroundings, and remember that freestyling is a self-expression. So tell the world who you are, what you represent, or even who you want to be without yelling it out. 
Don’t forget that dancing goes to music, so open your ears and focus more on the music and how it makes you feel, rather than focusing on what move you’re going to do next. 
If you want to freestyle a specific style such as, popping, locking, bboying, hip hop, etc. just make sure you learn your foundations and techniques that come with that style. Learn your history because that will help you understand the importance of the style and will make you a good popper , locker, bboy/bgirl, krumper, house dancer, etc. There is so much to learn… it’s never ending. “never a master, always a student” 
Nikki: Getting in the zone to choreograph, what does it take for you? 

Andrew: I need a song that speaks to me first and to catch my attention. If I’m really feeling the song I will just put that song on repeat and make something up on the spot. But if a song is given to me and I have to choreography to something specific then I just need some time alone to think and keep listening to the song until something hits me. Usually if I get the first couple moves or get the ball rolling in some kind of way, everything else should just fall into place. 
Nikki: Who are some of your biggest influences in the Dance industry? 

Andrew: First off I’d have to say my older sister Chanel because she sparked my first interested in dancing. 
Second would be Mr. Wigglez of Rock Steady Crew and Bonic of Rock Force because they were the first poppers I saw that made me start popping in the first place. 
Third is Bboy Dyzee of Supernaturalz Crew, he told me what the importance of bboying is and led me in the right path because all I wanted to do was learn how to windmill and flare when I first started bboying. 
Fourth would be my crew members of Twisted Ankles Dance Crew. They were a consistent push for me to get better since day one. And as new members are recruited over the years we continue to inspire and motivate eachother in any way we can. 
Nikki: Name a Toronto Choreographer you enjoy working with and why? 

Andrew: Well I am currently a part of a company called “Gadfly” directed by Ofilio and Apolonia. I like how they challenge me and help me discover things about myself that I didn’t know were there. Also their fight to treat dancers fairly throughout the duration of each project makes me appreciate them even more. 
I had the privilege of dancing for Luther Brown in Guadalajara, Mexico. I like how he’s always on top of things and serious when he needs to be but really cool and chill the rest of the time. I definitely look forward to another opportunity like that.
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.) 

Andrew: I like working with anyone that has a good work ethic and knows how to be professional. A pet peeve of mine is going to rehearsal or meeting and feeling like I’ve wasted time. 
Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess? 

Andrew: I think the amazing thing about Toronto dancers are that we are so diverse because there are many different types of opportunities open to us. And as times goes on and the community grows closer together, we all become more well-rounded dancers. 
Nikki: Any advice for emerging dancers and choreographers working/training in Toronto? 

Andrew: Plain and simple, just work hard. 
Want to be an industry dancer or choreographer? Go take classes, network, market yourself, showcase your choreography.
Want to be a good street dancer? Live the lifestyle of a street dancer and train, educate yourself, and take in the culture. 
Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with T.D.O.T. ? 

Andrew: Every Tuesday at Vybe Dance Company – Popping at 745, Locking at 900
every Wednesday at Dancercise – Funk Technique Class at 600
contact for Private Classes

Also “Locking in a Different Light Part 2 – West Coast Edition”  being released early January 2014 a series of concept videos I have been working on to show the street dance style (locking) in a different perspective for more people to be inspired or even open to learning it.   






16 Dec

This week’s shout out goes to Marie and Kathryn, the dynamic duo known as Thamovement are responsible for creating 1 of the city’s premier Dance showcases “Toronto’s Original Choreographer’s Ball” Meeting at York University over a decade ago and travelling to L.A together they decided to create what has become 1 of the most anticipated Dance events of the year. Get to know how and why they started the ball as this Wed Dec 18th they celebrate their 10 Year Anniversary, Hosted by T.D.O.T.’S 6th feature Hollywood-Jade.

 marie kathryn choreographers ball toronto dancers

marie kathryn choreographers ball toronto dancersToronto’s Original Choreographer’s Ball

Nikki: How did the two of you  meet? 

 ThaMovement: We met at York University in the Dance Program…bff’s ever since!


Nikki: What prompted the idea to start choreoball?

 ThaMovement: We were in LA and had gone to see Carnival. It got us talking about how great it would be to a similar show in Toronto.  From there, we just decided that we would try and put something together to give the choreographer, dancers and performers of Toronto a platform to present their work in a positive and supportive environment


Nikki: Where was the first choreoball held?

 ThaMovement: At the Opera House! We had 8 or 9 acts and some of them performed twice! We only had about 85 people in the audience and that included the dancers in the show!


Nikki: What sort of challenges have you faced over the past 10 years running the ball?

 ThaMovement: For the most part it’s been a fun and fairly easy process. One of the most challenging things has been trying to keep the integrity of the show. We’ve had a lot of people approach us wanting to change the show into a competition or TV show etc. and while we’re all for evolving and improving, we really want to keep the show as a platform for showcasing amazing dance talent without the pressures of competition or the added stress or pre-tense of TV cameras.


Nikki: Being the founders you have watched many Dancers and Choreographers grow. What does it feel like giving them a platform to showcase their talents?

ThaMovement: Yes! We’ve seen many artists go from being first time choreographers on our stage to choreographing stage shows and videos for music artists. We’ve also had dancers getting hired for gigs directly based on their performance in a Choreographer’s Ball show. It’s been such a privilege to follow the careers of so many choreographers, dancers and performers who have graced the Choreo Ball stage and have since gone on to do amazing things. It’s also been a pleasure seeing a new generation of younger artists coming into their own!


Nikki: What’s your most memorable moment of choreoball? 

 ThaMovement: There are way too many great moments to choose from! So many great things have happened over the last 10 years we’d need a week to list them all! However, the best moment of every show is when we get a moment to breathe and we look at each other and say “great show”!


Nikki: Aside from the ball would you like to share the other things you are working on. 

 ThaMovement: Marie has just opened her own studio ‘Wonderland Dance Company’ – a lifelong dream come true and a beautiful thing:) Kathryn is now the Artistic Director at Columbus Centre School of Dance and is loving the work of developing young dancers and her artistic and choreographic voice.  The duo (we) have many show ideas – Choreographer’s Ball was the first one they brought to fruition – through it they discovered their love and knack for producing.  They’e got a number of new projects they will be sinking their passion into soon.

 Dance.  Express. Exchange. Connect.


marie kathryn choreographers ball toronto dancersmarie kathryn choreographers ball toronto dancers marie kathryn choreographers ball toronto dancers K&M


2 Dec

This week’s Dancer/Choreographer shout out goes to Melanie Buttarazzi. Melanie is a Toronto native and has been dancing since the age of four. Growing up she studied many different styles of dance such as ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, salsa, and flamenco. She attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts in high school where she studied in their dance program. By the age of 13 she began to pursue dancing professionally and went on to continue her study at York University. Throughout her training at York University, she studied ballet and modern techniques as well as cultural dance from around the world. Her studies also included production and film, as well as the, sensory connection between the mind and body through dance. During her studies she also had the privileged of choreographing her own pieces with professional dancer. Upon graduating York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance, she began traveling and performing across North America.

Melanie has had the several opportunities during her years of performing as well as being a part of So You Think You Can Dance top 18 finalists, as a salsa/ballroom dancer. As well, she has performed and competed in many national dance competitions throughout Canada and the United States for over a decade. In addition to her performance experiences, she has also been a Latin and Ballroom dance instructor/choreographer for students ranging from young kids to adults. Several of her students have went on and competed in ProAm competitions.

In 2010 Melanie decided broaden her dance career to move to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams as a performer, she has also performed on stage with artists such as J-Lo, Pitbull, and Neyo, and has taken part in various cabaret shows in. In addition to stage performance, Melanie has also appeared in several film productions both as a dancer and an actress. She has had roles in numerous national commercials, such as Budwiser, Sony, Phillips, Bud Light, as well as short and feature length films.

Melanie continues to tour North America dancing flamenco on stage with her father, renowned guitarist musician Robert Michaels. Throughout her experiences performing in large stadiums as well as intimate settings, she has had the opportunity to meet people from various places and hear their opinion on what dance brings to their lives. While touring with her father, she became involved in several outreach programs at elementary schools in various areas, where she spoke to students about her experiences in dance. It was these programs that gave her the inspiration and desire to show the world how important of a vehicle dance is for people to express themselves.

In learning about the joy that dance spreads to others, Melanie was inspired to take on this new project and give dance to individuals who don’t have the opportunity to have these experiences. Through this she has created a program called Fostering Dreams Through Dance, to empower and inspire foster youth to find their passion and voice through the art of dance. Fostering Dreams Through Dance is not only a program where foster youth take classes from world-renown chroeographers. Over a period of 5 weeks, a film crew will document the youth, and their instructors, taking you on a journey before, during and after they are introduced to dance. Melanie and the film crew will document they immediate positive changes that happen in a short period of time to spread the awareness of the power of dance.

Bio Provided by Melanie

Melanie Buttarazzi dancer toronto

Follow Melanie on Twitter @melaniebuttaraz
Melanie on Instagram: @melbdance1

Find out what Melanie had to say in this week’s feature…

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

Melanie: The first time I started dancing I was 4 years old standing in front to the television watching MC Hammer’s music video “Can’t Touch This,” and danced around trying to copy the dance moves. I remember at that moment saying to my parents “I wanan dance and do what they’re doing.” My parents laughed and thought it was cute but I kept pestering them about it for a few weeks until they finally put me in dance class. Ballet was my first class and from then on I took Jazz, and tap, eventually leading to hip hop, lyrical, modern, flamenco and then latin and ballroom.

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

Melanie: Growing up I would choreograph to almost every pop song out there, but my first choreographic piece was in high school, I went to an arts high school called Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. My first piece was to “Come together” by the Beetles. It was  modern  based, with movement inspired from Martha Graham and Jose Limon techniques.

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

Melanie: I absolutley love freestyling, it allows you to tap into the emotions that your feeling at that very moment and express them through movement. It also has such a freeing aspect where true art with no expectations is created. My advice would be to always explore freestyle and create your own movement. You can take elements of all techniques you’ve learned and create your own style and tell your own story. So much creativity evolves when you let go and move freely. Its beautiful!

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

Melanie: Getting in the zone for me is getting inspired by a song. Music is my driving force when I create new pieces. I feel like the music dictates my movements and whatever comes out organically at that moment I tend to always stick with.

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

Melanie: Martha Graham, Bob Fosse, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan, Jennifer Lopez, Esmaralda Enrique, and Joanna Leunis.

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

Melanie: One of my best friends, Shane Simpson. We’ve choreographed so many pieces together for many years and we have the most fun doing so. We choreograph super quick and can understand what each others thinking and next move before we even speak. Its like we can read each others mind its incredible! We also barley speak with actual words when we choreograph, its more like sounds to create rhythms, its quite funny if you hear us.

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.)

Melanie: I would love to work with Kenny Ortega, and Adam Shankman because they are such great people and create amazing pieces that I would love to be a part of.

Nikki: Qualities you believe Toronto Dancers possess?

Melanie: I believe Toronto dancers have a great sense of passion and drive. They are always striving to learn more and expand their horizon to be divers dancers. Its inspiring to see the determination and passion that Toronto dancers have and it really sets them apart.

Nikki: What was your experience like on So You Think You can Dance Canada?

Melanie: My experience on SYTYCD was life changing. It made me realize my dream even more and that’s when I decided to take my career further and move to Los Angeles where I’ve been dancing and acting for film and television. 

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

Melanie: My advice is to stay true to your art and your movement. You have a spark that seperates you from the rest so don’t worry, you do not need to look like the person next to you in dance class. Your voice is unique and needs to be expressed. Find your inner voice and let the movement do the talking.

Nikki: Any upcoming projects, shows or classes you would like to share with the T.D.O.T. network?

Melanie: Right now I’m doing a dance documentary that brings dance to foster youth who have always wanted to learn how to dance but never had the access to it. The focus of the documentary will follow the lives of 6 foster youth before, during and after the dance program taught by world renown choreographers. This dance program and documentary is designed to empower and inspire foster youth  and propel them to find their voice through the art of dance. We will see in a short period of time, the positive changes that happen with each youth. The youth will receive scholarships to some of the top dance studios in LA and we are also trying to link this program to post secondary schools as a funded program for the youth to get a college education. 

Some of the choreographers include: Sean Cheesman, Stacy Walker, Gustavo Vargas, Robert Lopez, Isabella Grosso, Jasmin Figuiera, and Aukai Cain. 
I am so exited to embark on this life changing journey and give back to the youth sharing such a powerful way of self expression. 

Melanie Buttarazzi dancer torontoMelanie Buttarazzi dancer toronto