TIPS FROM THE PROS…
Stephen Tannos has an imagination to create unseen artistry in the Performing Arts. His choreography has made a mark across the world making him the most in-demand figures in Australia. Combined with passion and an infectious personality, Stephen's creations are constantly pushing the boundaries, taking performance to a new dimension. His work includes; So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice, The Dream Dance company 'GENISIS', creative directing short films and teaching the up and coming across the country.
He encourages performers to follow their instincts and commends dancers on their individuality and that is why he is one of my mentors.
What was the last song you danced to?
The last song I danced to was Janet Jacksons new track 'Dammn Baby' I taught to it as a part of a class relay the other night with 2 other choreographers Rob Mclean & Blake Wood. Each choreographer had to create to a different section of the song and then the 3 classes ran chronologically in order of our sections, was an amazing night with a HUGE turnout.
What do you look for in a dancer when hiring?
I guess it depends on what I'm hiring for. If it's for something like The Dream Dance Company's 'GENESIS' I'm looking for dancers that have an undeniably special and unique quality to their movement and dancers that can also hold the stage completely on their own. If it's for something like 'The Voice' I'm looking for a dancer with solid jazz technique and an ability to stylishly execute something without pulling focus, a dancer that contribute to the ensemble dynamic powerfully.
How much does someone's social media status affect your decision when hiring?
Absolutely not at all. I think we are dangerously transitioning into a time where too much importance is being held on peoples social media followings. Back when I was coming up as a dancer (which really wasn't even that long ago) we didn't have any of those things, the only thing we could rely on was our talent, work ethic and word of mouth. Social media is an important and powerful tool when used to promote yourself and your brand but the negative that comes along with that is that young dancers are very quickly gaining a sense of entitlement without honing their craft as much as they should; it’s very much a quick fix.
What do you think is lacking in the dance industry?
Originality. The main struggle that I have always had as a choreographer is the constant balance between commerciality and originality. As young dancers aspiring to become professionals we have always been taught that the main goal is to execute exactly what the choreographer wants without straying away and putting your own flare on it. This is obviously a valuable lesson to learn as a young dancer and don't get me wrong I completely agree with the philosophy that all dancers should be able to do this, it's absolutely vital. Having said that the thing that often happens from there is that dancers tend to lose their own identity and begin to doubt all of their own choices. I feel all dancers should have both and it's really hard to find the right balance without straying to far towards a particular direction. My main goal as a choreographer is to create professional performance and job opportunities for those dancers that don't necessarily felt the text book mold of what a commercial dancer is. I believe that there is SO many talented dancers out there that need to be showcased and appreciated for a having a unique and different perspective to the norm and I want to be able to create platforms for people.
What makes a good performer?
The main thing that I believe makes a GREAT performer is having a sense of identity. I have always gravitated towards dancers that catch my eye and demand my undivided attention even if they are dancing amongst a sea of people. This comes from being aware of your strengths and knowing how to use them to your advantage. The greatest dancers in my opinion are the ones that are so undeniably confident in their uniqueness and completely surrender to the music because they trust their own bodies and choices.
What do you think the main difference is between the Australian and American dance industry?
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances from the States and the main thing that they all say when they come over here is that Australian dancers work ethics are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. I honestly believe that comes from the limited work flow in this country, there are so many dancers yet so little jobs here that the fight to make it onto a job becomes so much tougher. There is a certain feeling that you get from watching an Australian dancer that I feel is unique to the rest of the globe, there is such a raw energy and assertion to the style of movement here that I don’t believe you see anywhere else. An Australian dancer will do something over and over again until they collapse to the floor, I've seen it happen before!
Where do you find your creative streak when it comes to choreography?
To me that is what it is all about and that’s what it will always be about. If I find a piece of music that inspires me I will listen to it 100's of times and study every single nuance of it until it becomes engraved into my brain, from their the inspiration flows.
Best piece of advise you were given/heard?
The piece of advice that I have ever received was from a massive inspiration of mine, B-boy turned filmmaker Daniel Cloud Campos. He said to me these words,
"I'm not great at giving advice because I always felt that advice hurt my process of following my own instincts and finding my own voice. You clearly have vision and the more you explore it without being guided through it the more you'll discover who you are as an artist. That's the advice I would give to anyone. But That's just me. Cause that's how I learned"
Those are the words that I have carried over the last year or so and they have helped me to trust myself and MY own vision.
What would you say to people trying to make it in the industry?
I wrote a Facebook status the other day, which I really feel answers this question as best as I can, it is below:
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I chose to go a different route. The route that time and time again, well-intentioned people have tried to steer me on. 'If you want to be more successful you have to go this way' 'if you want your work to have a broader appeal you should do things more like this' and things of that nature. The biggest lesson in my life that I have only recently just learnt is that all of my happiest and most fulfilling times have been spent carving out my own path and doing things that I believe in. It's so easy to be influenced and it is also so easy to believe that what you are doing has no validity or career potential. I guarantee that your most defining and treasured moments will come from the times where you stood behind something that you truly believed in with all of your heart even when everyone else was walking in the opposite direction.
Be confident in your own vision and actions and run as fast as you can towards a life that leaves you fulfilled and nourished.
You never know where your next stroke of brilliance will come from. It may just be that one crazy idea in your head that you were too afraid of and left alone due to fear of failure.
Be bold, be brave and above all do what makes you truly happy
This video had over 100,000 hits in a day and a half….
Run Boy Run – Choreographed by Stephen Tannos.
Watch more of Stephens Video on YouTube