This week on TheatrePeople, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a passionate performer, director, choreographer and known podcaster in the world of dance and ballet, TJ Tekurio. TJ teaches and mentors across the country and supports local children's ballet as well. Enjoy!
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
Although shows do inspire and motivate creativity, there are a few performances and pieces that have affected my life. As a whole Revelations from The Alvin Ailey Dance Company was a transformative piece in my early educational years. It inspired me to move and dance in ways I didn’t see in mainstream dance in the early 90’s. The piece that has impacted me the most is Standing On The Front Porch of Heaven. This Ulysses Dove work touches the core of sentimental value and pairs it with unbelievable movement. The work requires full commitment from 6 dancers to tell one of the most important stories—life. I was touched by the story of love, life, loss, and ultimately, lines creating the most visual impact I’ve ever witnessed. You must watch Mr. Dove’s work and see how incredibly important his voice is in the ballet community.
What’s one of your happiest moments in ballet?
My happiest moment in my ballet career was when I promised my mom she wouldn’t have to pay for my college career, and I received a full scholarship. Hand in hand, the happiest feeling onstage was when I was chosen and performed Dougla by the famed Geoffrey Holder. He created the piece for DTH about a marriage of the Dougla people, and it continues to be one of their monumental works to date. And in my freshman year of college, I was able to train with Charmaine Hunter (Dance Theater of Harlem) and members of the DTH ensemble. Mr. Holder actually gave critiques and feedback throughout the process. Before Netflix was ever created (2002), they filmed my process and performance and they were used in a Netflix documentary. I remember throwing up backstage thinking about how brilliant this opportunity was. Ohhhh, and how many incredible dance professionals were watching in the audience.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
OMG - Ive seen just about every goof onstage. As a Director/Choreographer, one of my favorite moments was during this show I was setting called Paparazzi onboard a cruise ship.We hold dress rehearsals very late at night, due to scheduling onboard the cruise line. So it's nearly 1am and we get to this number Walk Like an Egyptian. This rehearsal was our first dress tech, so getting used to the costume changes was the main goal. Well, the singer is doing her thing and she gets to the lyric, “Dropping down like a domino” and you wouldn’t believe it, but her skirt is fully unlatched and fell completely off. The singer was so stunned but completely afraid to stop. She just stepped out of the shirt and kept going. I think I peed my pants and we had to stop the whole rehearsal for quite some time. Costume malfunctions (Getting caught together and having to waddle off), hair mishaps (wigs completely falling off, yet they are unaware, and continue with just a wig cap.) Or, falls—getting stuck in someone else’s costume pieces and having to crawl off. Every tech fail possible, and beyond.
Why do you love ballet?
I love ballet because it opened my world to creativity, discipline and passion. It was my gateway to the world of dance and I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. It's my base and has supported me for so many years. Without it, I’m not sure I would be where I am today. It's also given me my versatility.
Theatre/ballet is for...
Theatre is the place where you take nothing, blank spaces, and create any possibility. No one can tell you it's wrong or right, it's only as much as you can see into it. If you can dream it, you can live it.
More about TJ...
TJ Tekurio is native of Broward County, where he started his training as a performer through Broward County Public School performing arts programs. TJ received his BFA in Choreography and Performance from Towson University where he performed works from Paul Taylor, Dance Theater of Harlem, Urban Bush Woman, Gus Giordano’s, and more. TJ was a dancer, dance captain and company manager for Holland America, prior to directing and choreographing shows for Holland America and Celebrity Cruise Lines. TJ has mentored and taught students over the years, adjudicating talent across the USA, and taking part in the production of local non-profits like Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theater.
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