#WeWantToKnow: Christina Digiuseppe
“I’m fearless in my art and I’m going to keep creating for as long as I possibly can.” These were the inspiring words that Christina Digiuseppe, dancer and choreographer, left me with after we met up to chat about her craft and her upcoming show at the Toronto Fringe Festival called La Femme Kabarett. I arrived at Millennium Dance Complex in Toronto to watch the last 15 minutes of rehearsal before we chatted, and from what I saw, it promises to be a good show! Christina is a talented and passionate artist, and it’s a pleasure to introduce her and tell you more about her show.
Christina is a natural-born dancer. She started to develop her love of dancing at 5 years old when she would spend Friday nights with her best friend who was in dance school, and this friend would teach Christina everything she learned, and the two of them would create dance routines together then put on a show for their parents. (So relatable — Christina just described all of my childhood New Year’s Eve celebrations, LOL!) Realizing how much her daughter loved to dance, Christina’s mom enrolled her in dance class the following year, at first taking classes for fun, then getting more serious and training at TNT Dance Force, and then attending Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts in Toronto for high school. Christina spent her first year after graduating in LA, getting to know the dance scene, but just six months in she realized she didn’t want to be a performer, she just wanted to create. She returned back home to Toronto and earned a business degree but she never stopped creating and continued to dance as well as teach. Christina loves teaching and has been doing so for the last 15 years, teaching jazz, contemporary and ballet to children at the CDM Dance & Music (Conservatory of Dance & Music).
Dance is a language that can tell powerful stories, and this is what Christina achieves through her choreography. Her latest show, La Femme Kabarett, is a fusion of French and German styles of cabaret/burlesque, and represents the “empowerment of women and the journey we go through in life to find our own identity as a woman.” The performance questions what it means to be feminine, and explores both the vulnerability of women as well as the masculinity of women. The show begins with the all-female troupe of dancers coming onto the stage wearing suits and ties, holding whiskey glasses and cigars, playing up their masculine side, then shifting to express the vulnerability and emotional side of women as the dancers slowly shed the layers of their costumes. The performance concludes in a celebratory mood of having fun and being flirtatious, and emphasizes that having strength and vulnerability are two sides of the same coin.
Christina has assembled a talented cast of dancers whom she speaks very highly of. Christina chose being a choreographer over being a dancer because there’s something personal for her about being on stage that she doesn’t want to share with others, so she respects the intimacy that exists when others open themselves up to her through dance, and appreciates the beauty that exists when she connects with dancers. Mentorship is a priority for Christina and she invites youth dancers to take part in her shows, giving them the opportunity to gain exposure and to build maturity as dancers, since they often end up spending more time in the studio than on the stage. (For La Femme Kabaratt, the ‘youth dancers’ Christina is bringing in are older, between 16 and 18 years old, due to the mature nature of the dance style.) Mentorship is so important to Christina because she knows the value it brings, having been taught by two highly influential dance instructors as she was growing up, and she credits Tracy Steadman and Vlad for being strong mentors to her and making her the dancer she is today.
It’s always inspiring to speak with another creative who is passionate about what they do, and Christina was glowing with the love she has for dance and choreography as she told me about her lifelong love of her artistry and about her new show. La Femme Kabarett is showing at the Toronto Fringe Festival with seven performances between July 5th and 15th. For ticket information, visit the Toronto Fringe Festival website here.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about Christina:
I cant start my morning without… a tall nonfat misto with one raw sugar and cinnamon dolce sprinkles on top from Starbucks.
I have a weakness for… my dog Mango and cheese boards.
Most people don’t know that I… have been writing poetry since I was 11 years old. I’m also left handed!
Currently reading… Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously by OSHO
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced… I’ve learned that the only way to live a fulfilling life is to make a beautiful mess out of it. One of the toughest lessons for me was realizing that sometimes you need to choose yourself for your own happiness. If you want to live a fulfilling life than you need to have the courage to let go of what no longer serves you. Life is all about endings and new beginnings. The more we stay connected to that, the more strong and resilient we become within ourselves. The universe is always on our side. If we want to manifest a beautiful life then we have to be willing to do the work.
I want… to share my artistic voice with the world and create a positive impact in people’s lives through my gifts and talents.
Thank you Christina, for participating in #WeWantToKnow!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.