October 2008

Danny Arbour - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Danny Arbour

Age: 26
Occupation: Professional ballroom dancer
Hometown: Montreal
Audition City: Montreal
Place of Birth: Montreal
Nickname: Danny Boy
Favourite Style of Dance: Latin and ballroom dancing
Signature Dance Move: “My kicks in jive.”
Couldn’t Live Without: “A Car.”
Motto: “Don’t stop trying.”

Upon learning he had made the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20, Danny Arbour claims he “screamed like a little girl.” After a grueling audition process, the Montreal resident is thrilled to show his ballroom dancing skills to the entire country.

Considered one of Canada’s top ballroom dancers, Danny knows that he must leave his comfort zone in order to wow the judges during the competition. He says the audition process has taught him that “there’s way more than ballroom dancing in the dance world.” With a smile he adds, “I’m not that good at hip-hop.”

Aside from learning new dance styles, the most challenging part of the competition for Danny has been learning Blake McGrath’s choreography “after an hour of sleep and with 70 people on the stage.”

Danny unwinds by cheering for his favourite sports team, the Montreal Canadiens, as well as cooking and golfing. This multi-faceted dancer would love to meet Tiger Woods because he admires his concentration as an athlete.

Danny’s entire family has been supportive of his decision to enter this competition. When asked who the greatest inspiration has been in his life, Danny says “my Dad,” whom he credits as teaching him to simply regret nothing.

When asked what he thinks it will take to become the winner of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Danny says, “entertaining people – that’s the only thing that matters.”

Dario Milard - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Dario Milard

Age: 19
Occupation: Dance teacher
Hometown: St. Hubert, QC
Audition City: Montreal
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York
Nickname: Dada and Oreo
Favourite Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: “My gorilla trance walk.”
Favourite Music Video: “You Got It Bad,” by Usher
Couldn’t Live Without: “A video camera.”
Motto: “Everything is achieved through action. Take the initiative to get what you want, don’t let it be only words.”

Dario Milard does not believe in lucky charms. The 19-year-old self-taught dancer feels “you have to believe in yourself” in order to achieve your goals. In fact, Dario says creativity and hard work have gotten him this far in the So You Think You Can Dance Canada competition.

Having only danced for five years, Dario has been studying ballet and contemporary styles for the past 10 months at various Montreal-area schools, including Montmorency College.

When asked what he has discovered about himself during the audition process, Dario states “I have learned that I’m pretty strong emotionally and that I will fight for anything I truly want.” In order to win the competition, he knows he has to work harder and practice longer than any of the competitors.

Dario boasts that his hometown on the south shore of Montreal is brimming with some of the best “underground dancers” around, and when it comes to his fellow Canadian dancers, he feels that they have “more passion because we don’t have as many dance opportunities as other countries do, but we have the urge in us to take what we get and continue to dance.”

Dario knows that he is a gifted dancer, but wasn’t expecting to crack the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20. “I was glad that the judges believed in my potential.” His family’s reaction? “They think it’s awesome for me, but the funny thing is they are worried because I’m going to miss school!”

Francis Lafreniere - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Francis Lafreniere

Age: 28
Occupation: Dance Teacher
Hometown: St. Bruno, QC
Audition City: Halifax
Place of Birth: St. Bruno, QC
Nickname: Frank
Favourite Style of Dance: Ballroom
Signature Dance Move: “My hip action.”
Couldn’t Live Without: “A cellphone.”
Favourite Phrase: “Hola!”

Francis Lafrenière is extremely proud of his dance career, and considers having his own dance studio one of his life’s biggest accomplishments. Having competed in the Blackpool Dance Festival in Blackpool, England, this ballroom dancer from St. Bruno, QC credits his sparkling, onstage personality with helping him make the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20.

Francis “still can’t believe” that he is part of this choice group of dancers. He has found that learning contemporary choreography is the most challenging part of the competition so far. In order to win So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Francis knows he has to strengthen his skills in this area.

Francis believes that people would be surprised to learn he is a “really emotional and generous person.” He feels most comfortable when he is with his family, and prefers wearing jeans and t-shirts to more flashy apparel. However, viewers may be more surprised to learn that Francis once saved a person who was trapped inside of a burning car.

His students, Francis says, are the biggest supporters of his participation in So You Think You Can Dance Canada. He is extremely proud of the support given to local athletes in his hometown.

Francis is thrilled to be part of So You Think You Can Dance Canada because “it’s the best dance competition on television.” His advice for future hopefuls? “Be yourself and believe in you!”

Izaak Smith - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Izaak Smith

Age: 19
Occupation: “Adventurer Extraordinaire”
Hometown: Prince George, B.C.
Audition City: Calgary
Place of Birth: Vancouver
Nickname: Cyrus, Izy
Favourite Style of Dance: Hip-Hop and Ballet
Signature Dance Move: Reversal in second
Favourite Music Video: “Make Love In This Club,” by Usher
Motto: “Find the Silver Lining.”

People might consider some of 19-year-old Izaak Smith’s interests and talents to be rather unconventional for a dancer. He lists medieval combat, video games and trading cards as hobbies. Interestingly, Izaak has also competed nationally with his high school debating team.

A hip-hop dancer since age seven, Izaak has studied at Judy Russell’s Enchaînement Dance Centre and attended the North Shore Academy of Dancing. He is also trained in ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern and musical theatre.

Being part of So You Think You Can Dance Canada has reinforced the notion that dancing is Izaak’s profession. He feels the show itself is important because it not only highlights Canadian talent but also “puts us on the same stage as the American ones.”

The most challenging part of the competition for Izaak has been being away from his friends, family and basic social interactions. “It took a phone call home, and then a few more, just to remind me to be me.”

When asked what he has learned about himself during the finals week, Izaak says “I really had no clue about the dance world.” In particular, “dancing in the big cities is completely different from dancing in Prince George.” Still, he is certainly not ashamed to be from a smaller city. He loves his hometown because “it’s small enough that you never feel lost in the city, but big enough to allow you to do anything.”

Izaak does not rely on a lucky charm, but does practice a particular ritual that has proven to be effective. “My sister and I do this silly thing that we started as kids. We cross our arms and fingers then cross our legs, toes and eyes. We did this over the phone and I got in so it must work, right?”

Jesse Catibog - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Jesse Catibog

Occupation: Dance Instructor
Hometown: Toronto
Audition City: Toronto
Place of Birth: Toronto
Nickname: Jazzy Jester
Favourite Style of Dance: B-boying and Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: “A Coindrop”
Favourite Movie: Transformers
Couldn’t Live Without: My iPod
Motto: “Live life knowing that you’re going to innovate, motivate and most importantly, inspire!”

Jesse Catibog considers his dance style to be, as he says, “straight b-boyism.” Having honed his skills on the streets of his hometown, Toronto, Jesse credits his strong will, perseverance and family support for helping him follow his dreams.

Known for his signature dance move – the “coffee grinder-torpedo-coin drop-jump-jazz split-chair freeze” – Jesse’s style of dance originates, as he puts it, “in mine and my friends’ basements”.

Jesse’s positive outlook and “never say never” attitude keeps him motivated to continually show himself as a dancer with heart. “No matter what anybody says, your dance is you, and nobody can ever change that!”

Toronto’s versatility and multiculturalism are two things that inspire Jesse. “There’s so much of everything in Toronto,” he says. A music lover, Jesse is never far from his iPod and silver Reeboks. He gives a nod to infamous dancer Fred Astaire when describing his own fashion style, calling it “Fred Astaire meets Kanye West – gentleman meets b-boy.”

Jesse is excited to have an opportunity through So You Think You Can Dance Canada to showcase himself not only as a dancer, but more importantly, as an artist. He wants to use this opportunity as an outlet to show the entire nation what he and his fellow competitors are capable of doing, and to spotlight the true dance talent Canada has to offer.

Joey Matt - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Joey Matt

Age: 19
Occupation: Dance Teacher, Music Editor
Hometown: Calgary
Audition City: Calgary
Place of Birth: Calgary
Nickname: Joe, Joee
Favourite Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: “I’ve been told my turning switch second is alright.”
Favourite Music Video: “Rock with U,” by Janet Jackson
Couldn’t Live Without: “A CD player or iPod.”
Motto: “Dance every day like it was your last. Live every moment to its fullest.”

Nineteen year-old Joey Matt considers making the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20 his biggest accomplishment in life so far. Upon finding out that he would be a part of this elite group of dancers, the Calgary native was at a loss for words. “I just remember I couldn’t stop smiling for the whole day. My cheeks started to hurt.”

When asked what his family thinks of his participation the So You Think You Can Dance Canada competition, Joey exclaims: “My family is pumped for me! They’re so excited and it makes me even more excited.” During the audition process, his mother sent countless text messages offering her support. “They’re the greatest.”

Joey would most like to follow the career path of Travis Wall from Season 2 of the U.S. version of So You Think You Can Dance. “He’s really inspiring and is able to give me so much motivation for my dance career.”

Favouring contemporary dance, Joey has worked extremely hard to adapt to various other styles of dance, from hip-hop to ballroom. Joey feels extremely proud of his own love and relentless ability for dance. “Even when I’m 60 I’ll probably still be dancing down the streets and thinking I’ve still got it.” He hopes that the show’s viewers are able to see that dancing is ultimately what Joey lives for. “I would like (the audience) to know that dance isn’t just something I do, it’s what I am.”

Joey takes the expression “dancing for your life” to the next level, especially when preparing to go on stage. “I tell myself that this is the last time I will ever dance and that competitions are just a performance. It takes the pressure off.”

What will it take for him to become the winner of So You Think You Can Dance Canada? “I will have to work my butt off every week,” he says.

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald

Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Hometown: Loretto, Ontario
Audition City: Toronto
Place of Birth: Etobicoke, Ontario
Nickname: Kait or Fitz
Favourite Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: Attitude-turn
Favourite Music Video: “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson
Couldn’t Live Without: “My cell phone or lip balm.”
Motto: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald’s motto, “Everything happens for a reason,” may explain why this skilled dancer made it into the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20. Dancing since the age of two doing ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip-hop at various schools, including the National Ballet of Canada, dance has always been a part of Kaitlyn’s life. Kaitlyn’s dance style of choice is contemporary, and she’s excited about impressing the judges with her skill. “I dance with passion, and it’s always from the heart.”

Hailing from Loretto, Ontario, Kaitlyn is proud of her roots. “Loretto is a very small, close-knit community,” she says. Aside from graduating from Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School, which she cites as the best day of her life, Kaitlyn is most proud of participating in the Solo Seal performance for the Royal Academy of Dance.

When she found out she’d made it to the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20, Kaitlyn was shocked and surprised, but enthusiastic about showing the judges more of her unique personality. And inspired by her mother’s constant encouragement – and cheered on by her family and friends – Kaitlyn has a strong support group helping her along the way.

Although competing against other dancers while adapting to different styles of dance has been challenging, Kaitlyn was surprised by her fellow Top 20 competitors. “The people are all so amazing, even though it’s a competition.”

Kaitllyn aspires to have a similar career path to Mandy Moore, who choreographs on the U.S. version So You Think You Can Dance. “So many people told her she would never succeed, but now she is happy and successful.” Keeping it all in the family, Kaitlyn says if she could perform for any one artist, it would be Mia Michaels, who also choreographs on the U.S. version So You Think You Can Dance.

With her heart and soul in the competition, Kailtyn is eager to tear up the stage. Her advice to other So You Think You Can Dance Canada hopefuls? “Follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and never give up.”

Kevin Myrlea - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Kevin Mylrea

Age: 22
Occupation: Dance teacher
Hometown: Westbank, B.C.
Audition City: Vancouver
Place of Birth: Saskatoon
Nickname: Kev and KDawg
Favourite Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: Pirouettes
Favourite Movie: “The Beach.”
Couldn’t Live Without: “An iPod.”
Motto: “Successful people replace the words ‘wish,’ ‘should’ and ‘try’ with ‘I will.’”

Kevin Mylrea considers touching down in New York City for the first time to be one of the best days of his life. “I instantly fell in love with the city’s magic.” Despite his love of the big city, this Prairie boy enjoys “spending time in Saskatchewan, catching up and reminiscing with childhood friends.”

Kevin would love to emulate the career of Broadway and professional ballet dancer Rasta Thomas. “The fact that he is successful in diverse areas of dance and the business of dance is an inspiration to me and my own career path.”

Having attended DANZMODE Productions and KC Dance Connection, Kevin is extremely proud when watching his own choreography performed by other dancers. He considers working with Hilary Duff on The Lizzie McGuire movie to be one of his biggest accomplishments. “Hilary was a fantastic girl to work with; her enthusiasm for performing was infectious.”

Kevin would love to one day work with choreographer Mia Michaels. “I respect her artistry immensely and her understanding of dancers.”

Without question, Kevin’s biggest support system has been his friends and family. “They are the key to my success, and always have been.” He strongly believes that their support will provide him with ample “hope, will and determination. With these important people by my side, I will be unstoppable.”

When asked what makes him so proud of both his hometown and of Canada Kevin states “Its nature and beauty. I am blessed to live in Canada.”

Lara Smythe - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Lara Smythe

Age: 25
Occupation: Student
Hometown: Toronto
Audition City: Toronto
Place of Birth: Toronto
Nickname: Lardo
Favourite Style of Dance: Acro
Signature Dance Move: “The shu-shunova. I sort of fly through the air and land on my stomach.”
Couldn’t Live Without: “Being at the cottage or on the water.”
Motto: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Getting her start as a competitive gymnast, Toronto native Lara Smythe transferred to dance in high school and hasn’t looked back since. When she isn’t dancing, this jack of all trades divides her time between attending the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, serving at the Keg Steakhouse and working as a sailing instructor.

Growing up attending Earl Haig’s performing arts program in Toronto, Lara is no stranger to the world of dance, but was surprised by how the competition has renewed her passion to perform. “Before auditioning, I felt my performing days were over, but this competition is like an exciting second chance to learn new styles, experience amazing choreography, and simply do my ‘thang.”

Despite a rocky start, blanking on the choreography during finals, Lara impressed the judges and landed a spot in the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20. When she found out she’d made it, Lara was in disbelief. “I thought I was dreaming.”

Her dream of making it into the Top 20 became a reality with the support of her family and friends. “I’d have to say my Dad is my #1 supporter, but my grandparents, and aunts and uncles aren’t far behind.”

A fan of acrobatics, Lara has been working mainly as a choreographer in the dance world for the last five years. But she admits it was So You Think You Can Dance Canada judge Blake McGrath’s choreography that had her sweating. “I worked so incredibly hard, dripping sweat from head to toe, with cuts and bruises, but it felt so rewarding to be working that hard.”

Although she admires the contribution every dancer gives to their community, Lara intends to pursue her own dance path. “I enjoy my path as uniquely my own, and I am continually amazed at what I discover.”

Lisa Auguste - So You Think You Can Dance Canada 2008

Lisa Auguste

Age: 27
Occupation: Dancer/Performer
Hometown: Rexdale, Ontario
Audition City: Toronto
Place of Birth: Toronto
Nickname: Mystic
Favourite Style of Dance: Contemporary/Hip-Hop
Signature Dance Move: Side-split
Couldn’t Live Without: “Mascara; Paper and a pen.”
Motto: “If you can believe it, you can conceive it.”

Lisa Auguste was bitten with the dance bug early. She started dancing at the age of three, training in jazz, tap, ballet, acrobatics, hip-hop, modern and contemporary. She considers her commitment and love of dance as her biggest accomplishment, and she’s determined to always keep dancing. “I have not stopped, can’t stop, won’t stop – I’m still evolving.”

Lisa is a graduate of Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, and the Canadian Aesthetics Academy. Currently living in Rexdale, Ontario, Lisa is excited to represent her community “with poise and grace.”

Upon learning she made it into the So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 20, Lisa couldn’t help but feel “sheer joy, relief and the anticipation of a new beginning.” Relying on the support of her family, Lisa knows she’ll have to give it her all to make it in the competition. “I gotta live it and bring it!”

Lisa is inspired by choreographer Mia Michaels, also a choreographer on the U.S. version So You Think You Can Dance, citing Mia’s class as the best she’s ever taken. “I was 14, attending a class at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York, and a sub came in for Frank Hachet.” To her surprise, it was Mia Michaels. “It was my first class with her and I fell in love.”

Lisa hopes to create her own dance career path, filled with success, excitement and growth. “And there’s never a shortage of inspiration… our judges are just one example.” Along that path, Lisa would love to work with Mia Michaels, or the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

Her advice for other So You Think You Can Dance Canada hopefuls? “Learn how to take criticism as graciously as you do compliments, and try not to compare yourself to others.” Above all, Lisa’s key recommendation is to “always remind yourself why you love to dance.”