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10 ways to make your performances more expressive with Tiana Canterbury

If there was a modern-day super woman Tiana Canterbury would be it!  So grounded and down to earth, I first met Tiana at her brother’s wedding, who was marrying one of my best friends in high school. Wow! That feels like a lifetime ago.  During One Voice’s second end of year concert we were lucky to have Tiana’s husband, Mike Champion as one of our guest performers.  It’s so wonderful to see how far they have come. They are such an incredible couple.  I am honoured to have Tiana as a guest today sharing her invaluable tips for performing and movement.  This Hip Hop choreographer for Australia’s so you think you can dance, leads a very busy life inspiring everyone she comes into contact with.

Tell us about what you do and your new studio.

I am a choreographer, dancer, video clip director, personal trainer, I manage my own dance studio, an Afro and Drumming show and a kids Military Style boot camp obstacle course for birthday parties, schools and private events.

I just recently opened my own dance studio called, ‘Your Hip Hop Class’ and I am extremely blessed that it is doing so well so far. It’s a dance studio with all classes based around Hip Hop dance. We have Hip Hop classes from beginners to advance, Couples hip hop classes, Fitness hip hop classes, Performance group classes and many more. Y.H.H.C. has also had many International choreographers and artist teach a class or make an appearance at the studio. This is definitely a studio you can learn, dance with and see the best of the best in the industry.

What was it like growing up?  When did you know you wanted to be a dancer?

Growing up was great!! I grew up in South Africa till the age of 10 years old and then we migrated to Australia in 1989. Being the only girl and the youngest of 3, my 2 older brothers would always have the newest music and dance moves they had seen from watching video clips and I would copy them from a very young age of 3 years old.

When I got to the age of 7/8 years old I would teach the kids in the street routines and formations and then put shows on for parties and local shows.

This was the age I knew that I wanted to be a dancer and would practice in my room and copy every Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson video clip. I then moved to Oz and once again taught other friends I knew routines in the area and performed at school events and performed with one of my brothers as bigger shows around Australia.

When I was growing up dancing, we never had Youtube or classes for Hip Hop… So you had to remember quickly what moves were done in the video clip you seen and practice it just using your memory until you seen it again to run it with the song. haha

Dance was also all about the groove and fun. Good times.

How do you juggle teaching, workouts and running your household? 

I make sure that I am prepared the night before on how the next day will flow and I have a schedule for each day that I try to stay on top on the hour. I am also very lucky to have a partner who is in the entertainment industry and is very understanding and hands on with sharing the loads.

I do make it a priority to make sure I have family time and me time amongst all the hustle and bustle.

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Tell us what your day looks like in the Canterbury/Champion household.

We wake up at 6am with the kids and get them all ready for school. At 9am we go train outside or gym or if baby is not at school… I do a Baby Mama Workout with her at the park.   Around midday I do admin work baby is sleeping and then baby time once she is up.  When kids get home from school we do homework and dinner, then back to the studio to teach at night. I get home around 10pm and then will tidy the house up for the next day. And then back to preparing for the next.

Dancers are always animated when it come to facial expressions which I love!!! Especially when you watch so you think you can dance.  For someone who struggles with expressing themselves in body movement and facial expressions when performing,  what advice would you give them? 

My advice would be to always map out your performance/show by knowing :

– what your dance is about or what feeling the beat is giving you

– the character or emotions you would need to express within your piece or song

– what energy and execution you need to express through your movement/choreography/routine.

– how to use your space/stage, levels/highs/lows and light and shade with the dance piece like slow moves or fast moves that compliment the song or beat.

Once you have this in front of you written or in your head…you need to then get into a studio or in front of any mirror and rehearse this over and over again and DO NOT be afraid to look at yourself and critic each facial expressions and movement. When running through your piece, get into a habit of perfecting and work on it until you are comfortable, confident and happy with what you have produced. At the end of the day, from body movement to facial expressions… it is all muscle memory and needs to be worked on and trained every chance you can for it to sit well in the body and you are confident with it!

Once you are confident, it will definitely shine through your performance.

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List 10 things they can do to help their performance become more expressive.

1. Find a connection with the song or character

2. Get in front of the mirror and exercise the facial muscles by expressing different facial expressions

3. Get comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror and perfect the feeling and connection with the facial expression

4. Connection feeling with your body movement and exaggerating your execution for muscle memory

5. Research different feelings and expressions and relate it to something you have experienced so you can learn our to tap into the connection quicker

6. Enjoy what you do as it will show in your movement

7. Be confident

8. Choose characters, music or choreography that suits you and you understand.

9. If you don’t not know the character given to you… research and see how you can connect with it in your own way

10. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…

Who are your mentors?

– I love researching cultural dance… and I learn so much from their history and feeling of their dances.

– All choreographers… I love creative people and seeing them hear music and draw pictures with their choreography.

– Any film directors and seeing them capture their vision on film.

What advice would you give young performers, singers and dancers who want to get to a professional level?

Get yourself into all classes… Practice, practice and practice… Be open-minded and appreciate all arts, teachings, music, dance styles, vocals and musicians and if you can appreciate it you could learn so much from everyone and perfect your own art. And last but not least, Live your own dream and create your own path and always enjoy every minute of it and have FUN!!

What’s your next big project?

My next big project is, I’m working on my new fitness program and getting it out to all the gyms around NSW and then Australia and bringing out a fitness DVD for HIIT HOP fitness and my Baby Mama Workout program.

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You can connect with Tiana on her Your HIP HOP class facebook page  or visit her site http://www.yourhiphopclass.com/.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I have.  Getting to know Tiana and her big dreams hopefully inspire you to go for yours.

P.S if your dream is to one day create your album read on…

It took me 2 decades to finally get the courage to create my first album. I have created a free cheat sheet on how you can start creating your first album too. Imagine hearing your songs on the radio! It can be done no matter what age. You can download it here- 5 essential steps to start creating your first album. Click here  to download or email me at tina [at] tinabangel [dot] com.

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