Drake, Rihanna choreographer Tanisha Scott introduces new moves to a dystopian future
Tanisha Scott on the dimension of dance in the new CBC Gem sci-fi series Utopia Falls
"Dance is the most liberating, freeing thing that you can actually do."
Born and raised in Toronto, Tanisha Scott has collaborated with and choreographed the biggest names in the pop music industry including Drake, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Cardi B, Mariah Carey and Jay Z. Her latest project moves her into a completely different setting: a futuristic sci-fi series titled Utopia Falls.
Dance is central to the storyline in Utopia Falls. The show, which is set in a futuristic colony called New Babyl, follows a group of young adults who are chosen to compete against each other in a performing arts competition. During their prep bootcamp, they happen to stumble upon an archive of music and dance styles that they have never seen or heard of before.
"The role of dance in this series is just as important as the music and the journey that each character is going through. The journey that they go through individually, changes from the beginning to the end, just as the music does, and the dance has to also marry the same thing as well so everything is cohesive", shares Tanisha.
Utopia Falls highlights a variety of dance styles such as flamenco, Capoeira, house, hip hop, vogue, whacking, break dancing, modern contemporary and freestyle.
The variety of styles are meant to express a variety of emotions in the show. "For aggression, there's Capoeira," says Tanisha. "If you want to show sensuality, there's contemporary mixed with salsa. Then you have hip-hop or stepping used as a tool to express yourself in a militant way."
Despite her expertise and accomplishments, incorporating dance into a sci-fi show was not an easy task for the three-time MTV VMA-nominated choreographer. "The hardest part is just keeping tabs and the history and a timeline on what is being taught to each character because even though it's a sci-fi show… the dance is still old school. The dance is still things from the past that they are learning how to incorporate into the future."
Tanisha emphasizes the different parameters of time, place and environment that have to be considered while working on a television series as compared to directing the performance of artists on stage. "Dance in a series has to fit into the world that you need it to be in. I can't do a moonwalk if I'm having a moment in the bathroom in the series, but I can do it on the stage for Cardi B."
She believes that dance should be an art form where people can delve into as many styles as possible. Through the show she would like to educate people on the various dance styles and respect the art form of dance. "I really want people to see how important it is to learn different styles, because there is a style for everybody even if you're not a dancer."
Utopia Falls stars Robyn Alomar (Riot Girls), Akiel Julien (American Gods, Warigami), Robbie Graham-Kuntz (Full Out), Phillip Lewitski (Supernatural), Humberly Gonzalez (Orphan Black), Devyn Nekoda (Degrassi), and Mickeey Nguyen (Make It Pop).