I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. Dance has been a part of my life from the age of 3, as my parents originally put me in competitive dance to give me good coordination for hockey. I loved dance and never ended up playing hockey — thankfully, as the culture around it always seemed hyper-masculine which wouldn’t have been a great fit for a young queer boy like myself. My younger brother Keanu also ended up dancing and I’m grateful my parents were very supportive of us both in our dance journeys. After high school, I moved to Toronto to pursue a professional career in dance and started auditioning and doing a lot of film/television work. After a couple years of this, I transitioned into teaching and choreography, which brought me more fulfilment, and eventually led me to move to NYC to pursue my work there.
Since I moved to NYC in 2018, I’ve been teaching and working with many students across North America, both with JUMP Dance Convention and independently. I particularly enjoy working with teens and young adults as they are the upcoming generation of dance, and it feels meaningful to make a positive impact on their thinking and movement, and hopefully the industry at-large as a result. Outside of teaching, I’m very passionate about film and have been fostering this side of my creativity recently by directing, producing, and editing a lot of my own works. I’m increasingly excited about creating and collaborating with other artists in different artistic mediums such as music, animation and fashion. I think the exchange and potential when different art mediums intertwine is really exciting. My goal is to have my work adaptable and fit to be presented in both concert dance and commercial spaces, as I believe they both provide unique challenges and skills to a choreographer.
I’ve taught classes all across North America: throughout Canada, USA, and Mexico. Performed works in Canada, New York, Germany. Next on my wish list, I’d love to teach, perform or work with dancers in Asia.
What or Who Inspires you?
I’m very interested in the mechanics of the body and always want to acquire new information about anatomy or specific techniques/methods to approach movement. In parallel with this, I’m also fascinated and inspired by non-trained dancers; how they follow their natural impulses when they hear music that moves them. These two very opposite perspectives on movement offer a middle space which contains both the theoretical and analytical approach as well as a more free and spontaneous impulse.
What does your choreographic process look like?
I typically start by finding a song that moves me. I then listen to it over and over until I know it inside out and almost intuitively. Depending on the type of work, I’ll come up with specific movement ideas that speak to the general theme or tone of what I’m wanting to create. I work pretty intensely in the initial stages to set a structure or skeleton for the work, and then I like to approach it with a slower pace and clarify details over a longer period of time. This part of the process could continue indefinitely, as I’m quite particular when it comes to detailing, though I usually end up being limited for time at a certain point which dictates when this is done.
I like to prepare as much of the structure as possible before rehearsals, mapping out spatial design and transitions, so I have more mental space for creativity when it comes to movement, details and giving dancers effective cuing or guidance to achieve the vision.
What advice do you have to give to the aspiring dancer/choreographer/dance community?
Take time to understand what work exists in the industry and reflect on where you can see yourself fitting. If you don’t feel like you fit, consider how to claim space and how you can challenge people to consider dance in a new way. Identify the skills you potentially lack along with what experiences will make you learn and grow and if you’re drawn to it, move in this direction with full force.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you’re unsatisfied with your work in this current moment. Rather than bathing in the self-doubt, focus on where you can see yourself advancing. Always remember your creative work can look vastly different within even 6 months if you invest the time and care it needs to grow.
What do you think the dance world /dancers need the most right now?
Dancers and artists in general have the ability to consider new ideas and create impactful action through them at a rapid pace. I would like to see dance continue to be at the forefront of this progressive change. Setting a standard for more diverse & inclusive spaces, proper compensation for our time and efforts, getting rid of outdated gender norms, are a few examples I think are key at this moment.
As an industry, there’s a lot of work to do around expanding accessibility and opportunities in dance to less affluent communities, specifically BIPOC dancers. Unfortunately, the reality is that someone coming from an affluent background is going to have vastly more chance of succeeding in dance as they can pay for quality training, intensives and opportunities, starting to build their resume and experience level at a younger age. This also translates into the institutional level of the industry where most people working on the administrative side of dance are not from diverse backgrounds. The thought of having a more balanced representation of diverse racial backgrounds and identities in all areas of the industry really excites me and I do feel this is something we will be seeing in our future (hopefully much sooner than later).
I would like to see more open mindedness in general about what dance can be and how different styles or backgrounds have their unique perspectives and history to offer. As much as there exists so much dance in the world today, it’s ultimately still a pretty small community and there is a general lack of education or knowledge about the art form amongst non-dancers. It’s important we support all forms of dance and maintain a curiosity about what may be outside of our close circle so there can be more support for all dance artists!
Lastly, I would like to see dancers demand more respect for the work we do as it is valid and necessary in our society. Dancers are often treated as props and barely credited when working on larger-scale projects outside of dance, working under conditions that are far from ideal and sometimes even unsafe. This should not be acceptable in any way. Our bodies are our work instruments and I would like to see more education in adjoining industries about what’s needed for dancers to work safely and comfortably, and for our hard work as dancers/choreographers to be recognized and appreciated.