The World is a Stage for Irish Dancer Taylor Reardigan

Dancer Taylor Reardigan
                                                                                Dancer Taylor Reardigan

A multi-talented Canadian dancer, Taylor Reardigan was first drawn to the stage and the dance world after witnessing the fast-moving feet, graceful jumps and rhythmic clicking sounds of Riverdance early on in childhood.

Caught up in a whirlwind of Irish dance at an age when most of her peers were still learning how to run and decipher their right from left, Reardigan put her magical feet to the test and whole-heartedly jumped into the competitive field of Irish dancing at the age of 6.

Naturally gifted with perfect rhythm and incredible athleticism, the young competitor spent her youth and teenage years training and competing with the best Irish dancers in the world.

“Irish dancing is literally all picking up your own body weight. You are flying in the air for 3 minutes picking yourself off the ground and it seriously takes so much out of you,” explains Reardigan. “The amount of training you have to do just to get through one dance is crazy. There are so many drills and weight lifting and leg training. For worlds we actually get a personal trainer in before every class to help us build up our stamina.”

By the time she had reached high school, Reardigan had already staked her claim as one of the strongest dance competitors in the sport, a feat proven by her extensive award collection which includes a lengthy list of 1st place awards at world qualifiers, as well as 15th place at the 2008 World Irish Dancing Championships and 13th at the 2009 World Irish Dancing Championships.

“I have won against literally 100’s of other Irish dancers and at world championships you are against 300 or more girls and dancing in a concert hall for 1,000’s of people,” said Reardigan.

While Reardigan continues to perform professionally as an Irish dancer, her repertoire of work has come to include an incredibly diverse list of television, theater and musical productions as well.

Some of her theatrical and musical productions include “Leaps and Bounds,” where she wowed audiences with her mesmerizing abilities as a jazz dancer at Victoria Performing Arts, St. Francis’ “High School Musical” where she played the role of Sharpay, “Shumka” at the Jubilee Auditorium and “Shhh” in New York. Reardigan has also been cast as a dancer in the television shows Blacklisted and Starz Power.

Audiences can catch Taylor Reardigan in the musical production of “Homecoming,” which opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at the York Performing Arts Center in Queens, New York. She will also be performing as an Irish dancer in the renowned Big Apple Circus in New York next year, and is currently working as the associate choreographer of the musical “A Christmas Story,” which will open at the John W Engeman Theater in New York on November 20.

When it comes to performing on stage, Reardigan feels at home, explaining, “I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I love it.”

Advertisements

All Around Musical Genius Philip Nielsen

Finding his musical talents early on in his youth, Philip Nielsen, the highly-skilled bassist from the bands Grit, Swarming Orchids, PixLips, It Came From A Lab and Tic Tic Boom!, embarked on his musical journey by first honing skills on the piano. With musicianship in his blood, Nielsen easily transitioned from the piano to the bass, but his extraordinary skills as a musician do not stop there, he also plays the upright bass (double bass) and synth keys.

“I play electric bass, which is my main instrument and I’ve been playing that for about 17 years. I’ve been playing the piano/keyboards on and off for at least 20 years, and I also play upright bass,” said Nielsen. “I started experimenting with the upright bass 6 or 7 years ago, so far it has brought the most attention to my work as a musician, which is a little ironic since it’s not my main focus”

Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Philip Nielsen toured extensively throughout Europe with the reggae/ska band PixLips and the punk band It Came From A Lab before later moving to Los Angeles, California where he would join the bands Grit and Swarming Orchids.

Aside from Nielsen’s vast knowledge of music, the commanding nature of his stage presence not only helps to raise the energy of the audience, but it ensures that all of his shows, regardless of which band he is playing with, are consistently exciting and never boring. While a band’s front man, or woman for that matter, generally gets the most attention in the media, the spotlight was never a factor for Nielsen; it has always been about the love of the bass.

“I like the way the bass glues the song together. My uncle who is also a bass player, once said to me that a song first starts when the bass begins to play after or during the intro,” said Nielsen. “During my years as a bass player I completely see what he meant. It just feels right for me.“

Nielsen recently finished recording Grit’s debut EP “LA Don’t Love You,” which is scheduled to be released in January 2015. Fusing together the southern rock, blues and punk genres, the song ‘Look Away’ off Grit’s EP was selected to be included in the film The Dust Storm, which is scheduled for release next year.

A film about one man’s chance to rekindle love with the one that got away, The Dust Storm stars award-winning Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue from Wild Decembers, The Rite, Home For Christmas and the shows Once Upon A Time, Love Is The Drug, The Tudors, Fair City and Jim O’Heir from the films Ed, Accepted, Safe Harbor, Comedy Hell, Welcome to Paradise and the hit comedy series Parks & Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dharma and Greg.

Aside from Nielsen’s extensive background as a bassist in rock, reggae and punk bands, his work with indie synth band Tic Tic Boom! serves as further proof of his diverse musical talents.

Tic Tic Boom!, which is lead by Leilani Francisco & Mike DeLa, Philip Nielsen on electric bass and Joey Ponchetti on drums, released the EP “It’s the Heart That’s a Fool” in late 2013. Nielsen also plays synth keys intermittently with the band. Tic Tic Boom!’s music video for the song ‘How It Ends’ off of the EP was included in a segment on Blip.Tv by Style-City Music, and was also featured on Artist Direct’s website and Frequency.com.

 Neilsen is also known for his work as the upright bassist in Drake Bell’s music video for the rockabilly inspired song ‘Bitch Craft.’

“I have always loved early rock and roll music like Elvis and Neil Sedaka among others, the upright brings the right sound and authenticity to that kind of music, much like certain electric basses have a better tone for certain styles,” explained Nielsen.

The song ‘Bitch Craft’ is off Bell’s third album “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which was released earlier this year and debuted at #32 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums charts. Additionally Bell, who has won three Kids Choice Awards in the US, as well as three Australian Kids Choice Awards, a Teen Choice Award and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, is known for his work as an actor from the hit Nickelodeon shows Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, as well as the films Jerry Maguire, High Fidelity, A Fairly Odd Summer and many more.

Although Nielsen notes the upright bass as being somewhat more challenging than the standard electric bass, the skills and stamina he has developed over the past 20 years allow him to transition between both instruments with consistent grace and perfect execution.

“The main differences between the upright bass and the electric bass is that the electric bass has frets, so I would say that the upright bass takes more discipline regarding hand positioning for the right intonation and playing in pitch. It’s also a lot more physically demanding, the size of it combined with the fact that it’s an acoustic instrument really makes you work to bring out the right tone,” said Nielsen.

Check out Philip Nielsen on the upright bass in Drake Bell’s video for ‘Bitch Craft,’ below.

Canadian Star Kelsey Oluk

Kelsey Oluk
                                                                 Kelsey Oluk

A genuinely talented actress both on the stage and silver screen, Kelsey Oluk has proven time and time again the dynamic nature of her craft through the vast number of diverse roles she has taken on over the course of her career.

In the film My Little Girl Kelsey plays the starring role of a girl caught between the dilemma of no longer being a teenager and what it means to be a grown up. Kelsey explains, “On the morning of her 20-something birthday, my character wakes up hiding from herself, and the reality that another year has passed.”

A shy young thing confused by the fact that while her age keeps growing, she still feels like a child, the film is a beautiful display of self-discovery and the confusion most 20-somethings face in the wake of getting older.

While Kelsey’s character in the film My Little Girl shows the actress’s softer more vulnerable side, viewers have the opportunity to see her get under the skin of a totally different character in the film Secret Clubhouse. 

Much like the film My Little Girl, the film Secret Clubhouse also revolves around the fear that comes with transitioning into adulthood, however this time Kelsey undertakes the role of Natalie, the film’s supreme bitch. Nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award, the film follows an anxious 29-year-old named Shannon, played by Sara Hennessey, who flees a party after Kelsey’s character Natalie destroys her confidence with a cutting dialogue that hits like an iron-fist.

Aside from the films My Little Girl and Secret Clubhouse, Kelsey Oluk has starred in the films Ivadelle, Kenneyville, Crazytown, the documentary Look At What The Light Did Now, and the shows Goodbye Sara Hennessey and How To Be A Friend. 

A recognizable face in the Canadian entertainment industry, Ms. Oluk has also been in several Canadian public service announcements including “Taking Pulse,” which was sponsored by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society’s “Julyna” PSA for Cervical Cancer Awareness, and the Autism Awareness PSA entitled “Carly’s Café.”

Although Kelsey has undoubtedly staked her claim as a highly sought after actress in the Canadian entertainment industry, she is also known on an international level for her extraordinary abilities as dancer.

Kelsey was chosen by multi-award winning choreographer Noémie Lafrance to dance in Feist’s music video for the song “1,2,3,4.” The video, which was also used for a commercial for Apple’s iPods Nano, was so successful that it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Video, the Le Prix Victoire de la Music for Best Music Video of the Year, which is often referred to as the French Grammy, and a CAD Award in London, as well as garnered Noémie Lafrance the award for MVPA Music Video Production Award for Best Choreography.

Besides starring in the music videos for the songs “The Way It Should Be” by PLEX,   “Laces Out” by USS, “You got it” by George Leach, “PF” by Controller.Controller and “Do it in the Dark” by The Balconies, Kelsey also choreographed the video for The Balconies’ song “Boys and Girls,” which she danced in as well.

Q&A: Photographer Emma McIntyre

With a repertoire of work that spans many genres, photographer Emma McIntyre’s creative eye has captured endless subjects in a way that speaks to audiences around the world. Whether she is shooting celebrity portraits or capturing the energy of an environment, Emma McIntyre’s natural photographic style reveals her subjects with a surreal-like beauty, and something she likes to call the ‘pause’ in between our ever-changing reality.

Over the years, McIntyre, who has has amassed an impressive client list that includes Horses Atelier, Sennheiser, Hudson’s Bay Company, Tiffany & Co, and many others, has had countless images appear in magazines and newspapers like Rolling Stone, Nylon, Spin, The New York Times, and Toronto Life.

Read our interview below to find out more about this incredible photographer.

By Emma McIntyre
by Emma McIntyre

TTNN: For those who don’t know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

EM: I’m a photographer from Toronto, Canada. I shoot a mixture of editorial, fashion and commercial work.

TTNN: How did you learn photography?

EM: I started taking pictures in high school where I had a great instructor and learned in a dark room. We also always had cameras lying around the house because my dad was a hobbyist photographer, as was his father. I inherited a Pentax Spotmatic when I was 16 and fell in love with the whole process.

In University I worked as the photo editor for our campus paper and ended up shooting a lot during that time as well. Eventually I studied photography at NMIT (North Melbourne Institute of TAFE) in Melbourne, Australia for two years.

TTNN: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot?

EM: My Nikon D3S with 85mm and 35mm prime lenses.

I also love to use my film cameras – a Hasselblad and a Mamiya 645 film camera. On commercial jobs it’s harder to shoot film, but I still love the feel of it and think it’s unparalleled.

TTNN: What lighting equipment do you favor and why?

EM: My preferred light is natural light but I’m fortunate to have worked with some great lighting techs in studio who have taught me how to recreate beautiful lighting scenarios that emulate natural light.

TTNN: How many shots on average do you shoot during a session?

EM: It really depends. With digital as you know it’s so easy to go overboard. I think that’s another reason I like to shoot with film if I can. You are so much more deliberate and don’t have the option to constantly check what you’re doing and tweak it. Film still forces you to be a bit more instinctive and trust that you’ve captured what you needed to. That being said I do commercial and fashion shoots with digital and in those cases can shoot hundreds of images. Especially with assignments like lookbooks when you’re firing off a lot of frames to make sure you capture a variety of angles and looks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

TTNN: Can you tell our readers about some of the projects you’ve worked on?

EM: Recently I’ve been working with the Toronto fashion designers Horses Atelier on their lookbooks and e-commerce. It’s been a really rewarding evolution collaborating with them and their art director to strike a balance in the look with something that properly shows the clothing while still remaining artful. I’ve loved finding that balance and their clothing is so well designed and executed it’s great to work with.

Lately I’ve also been shooting a lot of music – live concert photography as well as some backstage portraits. It’s really challenging to work with the changing lighting conditions and in a really limited time (usually the first three songs only.) I’ve loved trying to capture something unique and being a part of that performing energy is really invigorating. I’ve shot several music festivals this summer like Osheaga, North by Northeast and TURF Festival.

I have an ongoing collaboration with interior designer Timothy Johnson in Toronto. I love his design work and some of his projects have been featured in House and Home, Objekt, and Toronto Homes. I’ve documented all of his projects over several years and love the meditative aspect of just shooting spaces and objects. Editorially speaking I’ve been published in a lot of local magazines like Toronto Life, Fashion, The Grid and re:porter and internationally in places like Monocle and NYLON.

TTNN: What has been your most memorable photo shoot, and why?

EM: Probably my favorite shooting experience was in Cuba – which wasn’t an assignment – I brought my Hasselblad there and it sounds like a cliche but the textures of the buildings and the color and life of the place was so inspiring to photograph. I took some of my favorite photographs in that country. By the end of the trip I actually felt visual fatigue from seeing so many beautiful things.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

TTNN: I noticed on your website you have a section entitle ‘productions stills’, what productions have you worked on? 

EM: I’ve worked as a production stills photographer (or unit stills photographer) on a number of films and television shows. My first job of this nature was for the documentary Don’t You Forget About Me about filmmaker John Hughes. Here I had an opportunity to travel with the crew and shoot B roll as well as still images on a road trip to Chicago to John Hughes’ hometown. From there I worked on a number of television shows including Curious and Unusual Deaths, Inventions That Shook The World, Rescue Mediums, Totally Amp’d and Million Dollar Critic as well as films such as Everyday is Like Sunday and Diamond Tongues (currently in post-production.)

In this role you are tasked to capture images that will function as publicity images as well as capturing general atmosphere for posterity and details for continuity. It’s always an interesting experience as a photographer because you are working with film/ tv set lighting. It’s a great learning opportunity because lighting techs in film and TV are so knowledgeable and shooting with their set-up is a bit of a luxury. It can be a fun collaboration with the producers/ directors when conceptualizing what will work for publicity images. For the show Rescue Mediums (a show about two mediums from England making house calls in North America) we decided to shoot in a foggy cemetery at night. My lighting equipment kept malfunctioning and the team was convinced it was supernatural forces at work. I like the TV and film world because it always takes you to places you wouldn’t expect and especially in the more documentary type of television you have an opportunity to encounter interesting experts and perspectives.

TTNN: You’ve had an opportunity to shoot a long list of celebrity photos, can you tell us a little bit about that experience, and some of the people you’ve shot?

EM: I collaborate with a team of great people here in Toronto who produce a long format interview magazine about cinema called The Seventh Art. They’ve attracted a number of well-respected directors to be part of the magazine and I’ve captured stills during the taping of these interviews and then often had an opportunity to capture a portrait after the interview. They always chose interesting locations around the city to conduct the interviews so this gives me an opportunity to shoot environmental portraits in new spaces. It was through this magazine that I had an opportunity to photograph Peter Bogdanovich, Xavier Dolan, Andrew Bujalski, Christopher Doyle, Whit Stillman, and Paul Schrader. I was especially excited to photograph Peter Bogdanovich as I was a huge Sopranos fan and I think he has such an iconic look. I had about two seconds to capture a portrait of him between takes and he just stared deep into the barrel of the lens and gave me an image that I just love.

Peter Bogdanovich by Emma McIntyre
Peter Bogdanovich by Emma McIntyre

TTNN: What inspires you? Who are some of your favorite photographers?

EM: Lately I’ve been loving the work of Pari Dukovic. He’s been appearing a lot in publications like the New Yorker and his portraits are so imaginative and his use of color is so beautiful. Some photographers I have admired for a long time include Nadav Kander, Autumn de Wilde, and Lauren Dukoff. Vivian Maier has been an amazing discovery in the photography world – her street photography is so inspiring. Instagram is also great in that way as means for discovering new photographers. I think it’s so important to try and soak up every type of culture for inspiration though. I find inspiration in music and film as much as other photographers. I recently saw the Nick Cave documentary and it’s always so interesting to witness someone else speaking about their creative process. His discipline and the longevity he’s had with his career is so inspiring.

TTNN: Do you have a specific genre that you focus on with your photography? What is it and why are you passionate about it?

EM: Like many photographers, I’m most passionate about photographing people. That being said I love assignments where I’m asked to go document an event, space, neighbourhood, etc. Anything that takes me into a new environment is always so stimulating and I love making use of whatever lighting situations I encounter to create something interesting and tells the story of the place/ person. Portraits are more challenging because if it’s successful it’s telling a powerful story with one image. Something that communicates more than just the surface and actually relays something about the person. My love of documentary style storytelling means I pretty much love every assignment– everything presents new challenges and often you have a really limited time to capture the essence of the person, place, or environment.

TTNN: How would you describe your photography style?

EM: In terms of style I would say I like to capture quiet candid moments and expressions both in people and in urban landscapes, details and still life. I suppose it could be described as documentary/ lifestyle with a bit of a stylized/fashion sensibility. Ideally I am striving to capture a subtle emotion, something that appears in the in between moments which can be awkward and beautiful. For all my subjects – interiors, people, still life/ food – I prefer to use natural light and try to communicate the brief moment of pause – before words are spoken, spaces are entered, still life is changed.

TTNN: How do you keep productive and retain your creative edge?

EM: Being freelance forces you to be inventive and disciplined in terms of finding new work. As far as creative edge I think it’s important to expose yourself to lots of new art, film, music for inspiration and travel always makes me feel newly inspired – even if it’s just a road trip outside of the city to get a different perspective.