How did you come to work with Challan Carmichael?
I met Challan through a good friend of mine called Nick Mason; they used to be associated with each other, so that’s how we met. At the time I was a very well renowned dancer but not as a choreographer. Challan asked me to choreograph a couple of his gigs, and then I started training him. I just choreographed the performances and danced behind him sometimes; this was about 12 or 13 years ago.
What kinds of events have you performed at with Challan?
For Challan I just did his videos for KC Da Rookee and one or two club performances, so nothing big.
What are your thoughts on Challan and his music?
I love his message and what he represents. We naturally have a good bond; the fact that he’s a Christian and I’m a Christian.
I appreciate his angle on how he’s making his music, you know, with a commercial edge. I like his music, and every time I hear his latest work, it always seems to get better and better.
How did you get started as a dancer?
I first started I was just a kid but didn’t go to a dancing school until later on.
I saw some lunchtime entertainment at a shopping mall where my Mum owned a shop at; back in Argentina. I was fascinated by the dancing, just like any little kid, so I guess that was my real first taste of believing that I could become a dancer. I was maybe 5 at the time.
At the age of 12 I was dancing fanatically and at the age of 13 I was working professionally. This was in Australia for a Pop group; they were the number 1 R&B/Hip Hop/Pop group at the time called Kulcha; a Samoan, Islander group. I did a video for them and then got involved with their tour.
When I first started I only did what I could locally, because I was only 13 I couldn’t travel too far out. I was only allowed to dance in the restrictions of the city, or only go further if I came back the same day.
When I became 18 and more independent, I started to really travel with my dance.
What training have you had?
At the age of 16, my Mum, knowing that I had a strong passion and interest in dance, got me to audition with a dance school called The Ann McDonald Performing Arts School in Sydney, Australia. That was a very renowned school for Ballet, and Contemporary, but primarily Ballet.
So I got a scholarship and I presumed that they needed boys but also saw that I had raw talent. I started training Contemporary Jazz, Tap, all of the foundations of dance and theatre, and also the discipline of Ballet.
What types of dance do you have the most passion for and why?
Naturally I’m a B Boy (Breakdancing/Street Dance) and I understand Hip Hop really well; I love Hip Hop, that’s just me. So I’m that at heart but I do love Contemporary, I appreciate it and when the opportunity arises I love to mix Contemporary with my passion and love.
What gives you inspiration to dance/choreograph?
What got me to love dance, just like any kid, was because of the people I looked up to, or admired. One was a comedian, singer and all out performer called Jerry Lewis. There used to be a duet combo with him and Dean Martin in the late 70’s and early 80’s; they did a lot of films. Another inspiration was Bruce Lee, and lastly was Michael Jackson. So it was those 3 who showed me to follow my dreams. Michael Jackson is the closest thing to dance and which urban dancer hasn’t been inspired by him? What got me going was me just finding myself really. I knew that I loved dance, I wasn’t quite sure that I could be a dancer but my stubborn character, ambition and drive got me to follow my curiosities.
What kept me going, is me excepting the fact that dance is within the DNA of my characteristics, and creativity is something that gets me committed to the Art. What also motivates me are the opportunities that I’ve been given throughout the world, and people appreciating what I produce, direct and choreograph.
My parents emigrated from a Korean city called Seoul to Argentina, and then to Australia. I like to believe they’ve both got artistic streaks in them but they weren’t performers at all. They were just people getting by and making ends meet.
Do you work solo or in a team?
It depends what project I am working on, but my ethos is to get the best, you work with the best. So I always do my best to get the best out of the jobs I do.
It’s a pleasure that I’m able to reach out to people and that they are always more than happy to work with me.
What do you consider your finest skill of dancing to be, or do you have more than one?
Right now it’s directing. That is getting someone’s initial idea and making it amazing. Either through film or performing live.
What is your favourite dance routine(s) or event(s) that you have created/performed at?
I’ve been very fortunate to have worked on so many amazing jobs. But one project that keeps on coming back, and one that people praise highly, is my Award Winning commercial for Volkswagen, Gene Kelly Singing in the Rain.
That’s one that people keep on bringing forward and love. I guess I really challenged Hip Hop with it, and that’s when the industry really got to see that I was wasn’t just an ordinary Choreographer or Dancer or Creator. So I think that was my little milestone.
Can you tell us some of your favourite artists/dancers that you have worked with, and why?
I was very fortunate to work with two dancers called Salah Benlemqawanssa and Sofia Boutella on Axweel’s Feel the Vibe song; they are both world renowned Hip Hop dancers.
I have worked with Lilou (Ali Ramdani) and Daniel Ilabaca (a world renowned Parkour extraordinaire) on The Chemical Brothers Midnight Madness song.
I worked with Crumbs (Donnie Count) and David Elsewhere on the Volkswagen GTI advert.
I had the pleasure of working with A Listers like Jamiroquai, who really respected me for what I did. I worked with Hollywood actors like Jude Law, where I coached him, and Sam Rockwell.
As a Dancer I was very fortunate to be involved in working with Maddonna, P Diddy, and I shared the stage with Destinys Child.
I was the resident Choreographer and Dancer for Sony BMG when they merged together in Australia so I got the opportunity to work alongside a lot of A Listers there, and a lot of collaboration concerts.
When Naughty by Nature were the number 1 Rap group, I supported their tour.
I’ve worked with a living legend Arabic Singer called Amr Diab on his song El Leila; everyone in the Arabic world sees him as a god.
I worked with one of the most renowned and best known Bollywood actors/dancers of the current time called Hrithik Roshan.
And yeah, the list goes on.
My work with Got to Dance is seen internationally as a milestone on what dance TV shows should be like and perform to. I have also worked with So You Think You Can Dance.
Are there any UK dancers/artists that you think you’re dancing would be suited to?
It’s always great working with amazing artist that are world renowned; who wouldn’t want to work with Beyoncé, or Jay Z, or Justin Timberlake. Even Justin Bieber is up there; all those big A-listers that really bring things forward. But then at the same time I’d love to work with Jabbawockeez; the Crunk kings.
Everyone in the UK I’ve worked with already, but still there’s just so many; new guys keep coming up all the time.
Do you perform for any other forms of media other than music? (TV, films, other work related to dance, etc)
I’ve done pretty much everything; musicals, plays, music videos, pop tours, commercials, and other forms of theatre shows. Right now I’m directing an aerial stunt show, and I’ve recent finished a circus dance show in Abu Dhabi.
I’ve done film as well; Hollywood, Bollywood, UK Films and TV shows.
Fortunately I’ve done a lot of things.
Have you received or been nominated for any awards?
I’ve won an award for my Singing in the Rain advert which was; Most Innovative Choreography in TV Advertisement.
Where have visited in the world, or your favourite place?
I love going to South Africa. I went there to work on a commercial and fell in love with the place. I look forward to going back.
But my favourite place to go to in the UK might be the highlands up in Scotland which was lovely. I’ve got a good friend Bournemouth so I go down there and I love Cornwall as well.
What is your take on dance today?
I think it’s always growing and I’m happy to see what it’s become. The different types of dance have expanded and grown which is good.
Tell us something about yourself that may not be known?
I love cooking. I love my fish dishes that I cook, actually I’m about to make one now for lunch. I love plaice; especially a fresh one is really good.