Photo by Javier Lovera
Choreographer, Founder of A New DAEI (Dance Academy for the Entertainment Industry) Dance School.
“Success = failure + persistence + passion.”
Always kickin’ it
The choreographer mama and her seven-month-old son definitely share a passion for movement. What she calls a “hilarious birth,” the former So You Think You Can Dance Canada judge recalls back and forth treks to the hospital this January, reflective of her son’s groove. “The second he hears music, he’s doing the belly pop. He’s very rhythmic, so with any music or beat, he’ll catch it.”
Dancing past doubt
“At the age of 11, I wanted to give up on life and contemplated suicide,” Armstrong says of growing up in an abusive home. With a dream of becoming “Canada’s first ‘Blackerina,’” she faced scrutiny from instructors and peers before leaving dance at 17. In university, Armstrong cut the rug and said, “This is it. I’m going to be successful.” She established her dance academy with fellow choreographer Tonya Burke, and together, they are driven to elevate dancers into the entertainment industry. A New DAEI caters to all cultures by offering everything from belly dancing to hip-hop and a class for walking in heels.
Her innovative “Davatar” trading cards promote physical fitness by educating youth about dance moves, and are distributed within the Dufferin Peel and Toronto District School Boards across Ontario. The Youth Empowerment Tour is Armstrong’s latest choreography endeavour, where she will host a conference about “powering youth for success.” The project includes an online “iAM” campaign, which encourages celebrities and students of all ages to post a video that captures their potential.
Advising novice dancers
Armstrong believes that life is about decisions, even when we fail. She encourages her pupils to “choose not to lose.”
This piece was first published in the fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine