NIKKI JOHNSON - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
FOUNDER, ARTIST DIRECTOR OF THE DANCERS OF TORONTO
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Nikki Johnson began to recognize her love for the Arts at a very early age. Her mother took notice of her passion for Dance and enrolled her into Mississauga School of Dance at the age of 8. She began training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Character before auditioning and being accepted into Cawthra Park’s Regional Arts program for Dance at the age of 13. Nikki completed their 4 year intensive program in Ballet, Limon and Graham techniques as well as key factors like Dance History, Kinesiology and Eating disorders.
After a break from Dance due to unforeseen circumstances, Nikki didn’t feel as connected to her background in Ballet, Modern and Jazz after the years with little to no training in those disciplines. Growing up and always being a fan of R&B and Hip Hop she decided take up classes training under Toronto’s leading choreographers like Luther Brown, Kojo”Tuch”Mayne and Lenny Dela Pena. She believes her years of training in a Dance studio and attending an Arts school gave her a solid foundation of Dance, movement and stage presence. Her video and live performance credits include Kim Davis, Divine Brown, Cory Lee and Trish. She’s worked with choreographers Leon Blackwood, Mark Samuels, Hollywood Jade and more. Nikki has performed at major events like TIFF, Pride, Choreographer’s ball and Alternative Fashion Week. Having a love for fashion and photography she’s modeled for Budweiser, Total Fashion magazine and LG Fashion Week as well as Promo Model for Victoria Secret, CMT, Energizer and the Rally for Kids with Cancer. Nikki has recently been named Dance Ambassador by the Canadian Dance Assembly for their I Love Dance/J’aime La Danse 6 year campaign; she also sits on the board of the Dance for Life foundation.
In Jan 2011, she decided to create a blog after developing the name T.D.O.T. The Dancers of Toronto. Her mission was to Recognize, Showcase and Nurture The Dancers and Choreographers of Toronto. As the blog started to rank on google search engines, Nikki began to be contacted for all types of services when it came to Dance. Working in the industry herself she was able to provide these new clients with the services they were looking for. Having a natural gift to create and help others, she applied and was accepted into the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program where she was able to gain more knowledge on being an Entrepreneur and how to develop a business from operations to marketing. In 2012 T.D.O.T. really started to grow providing clients with services ranging but not limited to Dance Instruction, Innovative Workshops, Dancers & Choreographers for Events, Promotions, Corporate & Private functions. Past clients include Coca Cola, ANTM Live Toronto, Samsung, Slice TV, Alternative Fashion week and more. Nikki has been providing Dance Instruction all over the GTA for many years. She teaches Zumba classes around the GTA and will be completing her Pilates certification in 2014. T.D.O.T. is looking forward to creating opportunities for Dancers and Choreographers in a fun environment and providing clients with top quality professional services. Nikki has found her true passion and calling through T.D.O.T. She is relaunching the website and blog early 2014 and is currently expanding into Dance apparel with The TDOT Shop.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Dance and the Arts have always been in my life!! I began dancing in a studio environment at the age of 8 and continued on to an Arts school where I majored in Dance and had the opportunity to take classes in musical theatre, drama and photography. I held a full time job outside of Dance in manufacturing and production after completing high school where I was employed full time for 8 years. I was able to attain valuable transferable skills such as Quality Assurance, leadership, efficiency and team work to name a few. After 31/2 years without any real Dance in my life, I decided to jump back in after the hiatus, working with some of Toronto’s Top Choreographers. I've been blessed with opportunities to dance background for different musical Artists, live stage shows, major events, in music videos and television. Dealing with a recurring knee injury gave me the chance to work behind the scenes from administration to stage managing for different dance companies. In Jan 2011 being injured and away from performing propelled me to create a blog to recognize & showcase Toronto’s Dance talent. Creating the blog for what I thought was a hobby ended up opening a whole new world of business for me. I was accepted into the OSEB program at the Toronto Business Development centre where I completed their intensive business management and entrepreneur training course and completed my first business plan. Since completing this course I have been fortunate to provide Dancers with paying jobs to do what they love through The Dancers of Toronto. I have a Great Passion for Dance, Art, Music and Entertainment, that's where my heart is! I have also ventured into fitness, studying Anatomy and Pilates at Merrithew Health & Fitness, working towards completing my Pilates and specialized injuries certification. I have also attained my Zumba license and enjoy helping others get fit in a fun and comfortable environment.
What many people may not know about you?
I’m generally quiet and reserved in new environments. I’m very observant of my surroundings.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
I am motivated by my passion to make a difference in the lives of others. I’m inspired by my family and the great friends I have around me. They are my number one fans as I am of them.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I’m a very determined and passionate individual. When I have my mind set on something I will do whatever I can to achieve that goal. I’m a very hard worker and put my all into the work I am doing. I have come to realize that everything takes time and you have to have the right people around you helping to support your vision. This year I will be re-launching The Blog and website with a new design as well as The T.D.O.T. Shop which I am really excited about.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for making a big difference in the Toronto Dance Industry.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
They all kind of go together for me. Family is important so I always try to put them first but they are also very supportive of me and always encourage me to do what I love. When you love what you do, it’s never really work.
What’s your favorite food, book, music and movie?
I love food period but I love Italian and Mexican food the most. Being a Dancer I enjoy all types of music. R&B would be at the top for me. My favorite book is The Alchemist. I’m not big on movies but I can watch Sister Act 2 repeatedly lol.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
My family is of mixed race from Nova Scotia; I am the darkest in my family and often struggled with that growing up. Once I became comfortable in my skin those insecurities disappeared. As a black person you have to deal with being typecast a lot. I went to a predominantly white school so I was often blamed for things that I had no involvement in, I would receive the lowest marks although I would go above and beyond in all my work. There have been times in the past where I’ve felt like I had to be extra nice in certain settings so people wouldn’t assume that I have an attitude or put me in a category of how the media perceives the “typical black person” to be. Now I am just myself that‘s the best me that I can be and I’m not concerned with being perceived in anyway by others because I am true and comfortable with myself.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyoncé, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc.
I don’t believe there are as many opportunities here in Canada, but it’s like that anywhere in the world. I sometimes refer to the USA as the centre of the universe (as a joke). There can only be one. Fortunately for them they have the Hollywood’s, the broadways and everything in between. I do think Canada is close but the support just doesn’t exist here on every level from government, media and peers. The incredible leaders and Talent we have here do not receive that same international recognition due to the lack of support. Until this change occurs it will always be a struggle to have these types of leaders here in Canada.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
Some of my favorite Canadian artists are dear friends of mine who inspire me with their lyrics and talent like Trish, Kim Davis and Andreena Mill. My role models are all the beautiful women in my family who have raised me to be the woman I am today. My Mother, Sister and Aunts have been such a great support system throughout my life; they are all fiercely strong independent women.
Should & do Blacks support black music, events and businesses?
The support is there to a certain degree. But sometimes ignorance and insecurity get in the way and other blacks don’t want to see their peers succeed. I think it’s very important for us to support one another and give back in any way we can not to gain power or authority but because it feels good and no one else will do it for us.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
My understanding is that Canada, specifically Nova Scotia, played a huge role in freeing the slaves. I also feel that it is something that I need to spend more of my time learning about as it is not discussed as much in everyday life as it should be.
Nikki Johnson Social Media Links:
T.D.O.T The Dancers of Toronto Links: