Kaela - Talent Around The Block

The first impression you get when you meet Kaela is that she is a lively, hard-working and committed person. Three skills that are fundamental when you are working in the beautiful dancing world.

 • Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kaela Ryan and I am a freelance dancer in Toronto. 

• As a freelance dancer, how would you describe your everyday life?

I am always taking class and cross training. I have ballet 3-5 times a week and I take hip-hop, Latin, and ballroom. I run, I do yoga and pilates and I recently started rock climbing as a hobby. It is very physically and mentally challenging so it is a perfect way to de-stress and stay in shape.
I am currently in the beginning stages of taking some of my choreographic works and creating a video collection. Some pieces are years old and some are as recent as last week. They are all different styles and have different directions so right now it is a bit scattered, but that’s what makes it fun.

• What is your favorite kind of dancing and why?

It is very hard to choose a favourite kind of dance. I would say I like watching them all because any style done well exhibits an artistry and athleticism that can be appreciated from every perspective. When dancing, the genre I am working with in the moment can be powerful enough to move me to feel like I belong right there. However, I can go to a rehearsal for something completely different and feel the exact same way. Anything that can make me feel something is worth watching and doing.

• What is your favorite moment when you are performing?

The split second right before you take a breath to do the very first move. You have less than one second to take it all in and let it all go. It goes by so quickly but lasts forever.

• What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome in your career?

About a year and a half ago, I tore my hamstrings on tour. It started out quite small, but as I continued to work it got worse and worse. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I took about a week off, and in my break became practically immobile. It has taken countless hours of physio and rest. I was unable to do anything for a long time, including basic exercise. The biggest challenge has been trying to overcome the doubt and fear that was instilled in my time off. It was so easy to get down on myself for being weaker than I used to be. I didn’t recognize myself on the outside or the inside. I am finally able to start training like I used to, and the hardest part has been the mental aspect. But I stay positive and ignore any negative thoughts. Small progress is still progress and I am always reminding myself of that.

• What is your main career goal?

I don’t have one main goal. I love trying new things and working to refine my craft with different people or choreographers. My next move is the project I’m working on now. And after that, I’m sure I’ll find something that excites me more so.

• How did you end up becoming a professional dancer?

Dancing is my livelihood. I have been doing it since I was 3 and nothing else has moved me in a similar way. I just could not imagine myself doing anything else at this time in my life. Dancing is the perfect emotional, intellectual, physical and sensual experience for me as a whole person.

• What is the project you are the most proud of?

I most recently re-shot my demo reel. I loved it because it was one of my first projects since recovering from my injury. I freestyled 3 different genres in one day. I purposely challenged myself to be authentically me and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

• Do you think Toronto is a good place to be in to have a fulfilling career in the dancing industry?

Toronto has a very small dance scene, which is good because you can learn anything from lots of people and network quickly. This also gives Toronto incredible potential to grow and I think it is growing nicely.

• What advice would you give to beginner dancer?

I would tell any beginner dancer to throw themselves into learning. Absorb as much as you can. Learn from everyone (not just a select few). Look at all sides of everything. Ask questions when you are unsure and trust your instincts. Put in the effort, because you will get back what you put out. Most importantly, don’t be arrogant, but KNOW YOUR WORTH.

• What work in another artistic field than yours impresses you?

I have a lot of respect for painters and sketch artists. I am blown away by the styles, the amount of competition and the display of creativity and emotion that goes into something as (seemingly) straight forward as putting an object on a blank canvas.
I also love composers of any kind. That takes a lot of everything to do.

• Where can we find you?

I can always be found at Yonge and College. It is the nucleus of my universe. Anything I do is about 20 minutes walking distance from there (home, dance, work, shopping etc.).

• If Toronto was a person, what kind would it be?

I really had to think about this one! I think it would be a young twenty something…someone who is vibrant, excited and full of passion. Perhaps a little bit lost but very hopeful, curious and has incredible potential.

• Last word for the road?

Everyone has his or her own opinion of how you should live and what would make you successful. Just do whatever you want, plain and simple. It’s the most commonly stated piece of advice, but so completely under-used. Stick to your guns, explore new things, change your mind or don’t at all. Just do whatever makes you happy.



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