Dancer-Choreographer Lisa Auguste
Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! Podcast Episode 010
Hello and welcome to episode 10 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! I made it to 10 episodes so I’m legit now. Apparently few podcasts make it to 10 episodes so I’m on my way to proving that I’m in it for the long haul.
This week’s guest is dancer-choreographer Lisa Auguste. She is a classically trained dancer who specializes in everything from ballet to hip-hop, Latin to breakdance and everything in between. Lisa was a finalist on the first season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada and has a growing list of TV and film credits including Shall We Dance, Silent Hill 2 and the recent tv remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She has also danced in music videos for Katy Perry, Janelle Monae, Shawn Desman, and more.
Lisa shares some of the lessons that she learned from choreographers such as Luther Brown, Mia Michaels, Kenny Ortega and more. She also has a lot of great advice of her own to share on how to navigate a career in the performing arts.
Dancer-Choreographer Lisa Auguste Show Notes:
welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.
Lisa Auguste: 2:28 Thank you for having me.
Diane Foy: 2:29 What are some of the career highlights that you’ve had?
Lisa Auguste: 2:33
I would say today’s would probably be Lion King, So You Think You Can Dance, The Rocky Horror Picture remake. I think those would be the most significant I guess for me, obviously, there are others in between that had different, different significance when it comes to growth and exposure, but this was probably the most public way of being recognized for my art.
Diane Foy: 3:02
And so when you were growing up, what drew you to dancing and performing?
Lisa Auguste: 3:06
I personally don’t know if I actually had a choice. Well, because I was 3. But I know that I stayed in it because I loved it. That’s for sure. I know that my mom used to do. She’s from Dominica, and they used to have their beauty pageants. And she used to sing in her beauty pageants. And my father ironically, was a modern dancer at some point in his life. So I feel like it’s partially genetic. I guess parents just love the arts anyway, our loved anything extracurricular to be real. I was involved in a lot of things. But yeah, the reason why I stayed in it was the love of it.
Diane Foy: 3:43 And what was your first training?
Lisa Auguste: 3:45 Ballet.
Diane Foy: 3:45
How long did you do ballet classes? And when did you transfer into other styles?
Lisa Auguste: 3:52
Normally, when you do competitives or studio, studio dancing, or studio training, sorry, you normally start off with ballet and something else, I could see that they’ll do ballet and jazz will do ballet in a tap. That’s kind of how it works when you’re like three to I don’t know, eight, maybe even. And that’s sort of how you start. And then if you continue dancing, and you want to do more, that’s when you just start adding on. So I would say I’ve done ballet for the longest. And then I went into to jazz, I’m pretty sure that it was tap. And then it was acrobatics. And hip hop was the very last. And then everything else started to branch off after I left the studio, which was after I was 18.
Diane Foy: 4:34
When was it? Did you knew that you want to pursue this as a career?
Lisa Auguste: 4:38
Diane Foy: 4:38
Was there anything in particular that made you decide that?
Lisa Auguste: 4:42
Yeah, two major things, I’m assuming that every teenager, especially when you have been so involved in something that heavy for a long time, like anybody who’s involved in sports that are like real competitive sports, they understand that like that, that commitment that you sort of miss out on or you feel anyway that you miss out on a lot of like school activities, birthday parties, things you can’t go to because you have another commitment that you’re going to which you’re happy to do. But it does take a toll every once in a while. So I was at that point in my life feeling like, I feel like I’m missing out on so much I want to do this. But I don’t know if dance is the right thing. What am I doing blah, blah, blah, blah, that whole teenage angst nonsense. So I feel like my teacher recognized my restlessness, and I guess inspired and pushed me to go to New York to take classes with an older generation of teachers. And by chance I ended up going to Broadway Dance Center at the time to take a class of Frank Hatchett. And he didn’t end up being in he wasn’t in the studio. And the sub was Mia Michaels. This was before me and Michael’s I think was as well known as she is and that was the first class with adults. Like that was an eye opening thing for me to be in a class with 30 year old men and women all different shapes and sizes, all different walks my eyes just it was just literally like a kid in candy store. I was like what the heck is this? And it was so beautiful to witness and so intimidating at the exact same time that it was that was that moment for you be like oh my teacher guy like I got it. I understood why I needed to dance like it was that that was that moment. I will never forget it. I remember the sweat on my body my brother was wearing remember the people in the class that probably don’t even know me. I don’t even know their names, but it was that vivid of a memory for me. Yeah, coming back coming back to Toronto after that was a really eye opening feeling of a re inspired reason to train. So yeah, so it came I came back with a new zest for it. And then the funny thing was, I think it was literally that same year. Like I said I was involved in a lot and I was on my basketball team. And I literally went up for a layup for the last thing this girl was underneath me went down two or three ligaments my ankle was out for four months solid can’t even walk.
Diane Foy: 6:59 Oh no.
Lisa Auguste: 7:01
Yeah, the universe is funny that way, like so it was like it reinforced it even more because of the fact that I couldn’t move. So I was like, Oh, hell no, this is not going to be the way I’m going out you know, like so it was you know, sort of like a slap in the face with you know, your ego being like you’re you know, what you will you know too much as a teenager you think you know everything to be real when it comes to yourself and what you think is going to be the best route for you to go forward. That was kind of like an amazing, beautiful moment with both lessons at the same time.
Diane Foy: 7:34 And what was your the first jobs or auditions?
Lisa Auguste: 7:39
I would say we cut we consider them industrials, which are like a one off gig. So if let’s say like a corporation, I don’t know any corporation for example, like any of the banks that had like their, their Christmas party or whatever they have, like an entertainment, they give away their awards for the year, you know, that kind of thing. So they have a portion of entertainment. That was probably one of my first performance. I think I was 17 that was like one of my first real gigs like getting getting paid to just do one job to dance you know, as opposed to my I think my first real job was the J Force to be real that which was they used to have like a dance team back in the day it was the Blue Jays J Force. But I was again roughly around the same age 16, 17 years old, but that didn’t last very long. So
Diane Foy: 8:21
Right and then from there was the first big break the Lion King?
Lisa Auguste: 8:25
No, actually I went on cruise ships after that. So 18 to 20, 18 to 20. Roughly, I was doing cruise ships. And then when I was 21, I got or 20, 21 turning 21, I got like.
Diane Foy: 8:38 What was the audition process like?
Lisa Auguste: 8:41
A lot of people. My first big audition, I didn’t come from a background of singing. So I had to find a vocal coach knowing that I want to go into do this audition, find a song that was going to be easy enough and doable for me to sing just for them to see that I can learn and be taught. So you normally go in with dance first, they generally do dance first. There’s a dance call. There’s a I think Charmaine was the artistic director, I think at the time was also running the audition. There’s about there was about a panel, I don’t know, maybe of six or eight people on the panel watching learn to combination, had to do it in groups, then there were cuts made just based on the dance then had to do it again. And then anybody who they wanted to see after it was called to sing. So then you went into sing, I think maybe about a week or so later, maybe a little bit longer. I found out I got the job.
Diane Foy: 9:33 Cool. And how long did that run?
Lisa Auguste: 9:37
I did the last year of the cast. So I think it was four year run before they started doing that touring everywhere. I think it was those the fourth year, I did.
Diane Foy: 9:47 Cool. And then what what did you do next?
Lisa Auguste: 9:52
After that was, So You Think, I think. But I went on another cruise ship afterwards. I did some stuff for Pan Am ceremonies did a couple of those. The Panama Olympic ceremonies, did a couple of gigs there did a lot of training in between a lot of traveling. And then. And it was SoYou Think was the the next big, big thing that came to Canada.
Diane Foy: 10:13 Yeah. And that was the first season you’re on?
Lisa Auguste: 10:16 That was right.
Diane Foy: 10:17 I love that show so much. I wish it was still in Canada.
Lisa Auguste: 10:21
I know it’s true. But it was a it was a it was a hard the first year I definitely not to sound biased. But I definitely feel like the first year was definitely the hardest to get in there. And I feel like that’s probably my, my favorite accomplishment is because minus the like 18 year olds from maybe season 3 and 4, everybody who auditioned, audition the first year. So like, it was a good, good standard to know, like, within the constructs of a reality program, you know, like, where you sat in the talent of how people audition. It’s not even just to say that that’s only talent, but it’s also an also it’s sorry, it’s also a skill to audition. You know, it’s not always just about the talent. And like we like I said, it’s a reality program. So it was happening that was casting, right.
Diane Foy: 11:07
What was the most challenging thing about being on that show?
Lisa Auguste: 11:11
The reality portion, or the quote, unquote, reality portion of the TV program, I guess, maybe younger in my way of thinking was, dance has been my life for the longest time. It wasn’t just a portion of it. And I felt that categorizing people I know that they had to for the show’s purpose, but like categorizing people, as especially trained dancers, and studio dancers, it’s like, I’m not just a contemporary dancer, I’m not just and that was the point, it was like, I wanted to do all the styles so that I can continue to evolve, right? Meaning like the B boys would get more respect, which I understand. And I totally give respect for them to be able to do a contemporary dance because they’re not trained. But it wouldn’t be the same vice versa sometime. I would say, playing to the masses when it came to certain things, and how that people would be received editing things that way, but was bothered with what you felt was favoritism. Again, because you’re so immersed and involved in involved in everything, and you’re living with everybody. And then it’s just it’s a lot. So like, it’s interesting to how to how to navigate how to be a normal person within that constructs of being in a competition.
Diane Foy: 12:21
Right? And was it more I guess it was like the behind the scenes stuff that they filmed? Did they kind of manufacture some of that?
Lisa Auguste: 12:28
I don’t, I wouldn’t say they’re manufactured. It was just it was about what was what was chosen to be aired. You know, so I can’t say it was manufactured because things were done. But when you see something out of context, or put something in another context, or not getting a good idea of what that where that’s coming from, and then it’s perceived as in, I don’t know, which is the bitchy one.
Diane Foy: 12:47 Was that your reputation on the show?
Lisa Auguste: 12:49
Well, there was a there was one particular one that I definitely remember having words with the director and the camera team and being like, this was not edited properly, you made me sound like, I was like this snooty noodle, and I have none of that. And then like some other voting things that I was told, but you know, that’s the name of the game. That’s the way it goes.
Diane Foy: 13:08
Yeah. But you got to work with some amazing choreographers.
Lisa Auguste: 13:12
The most amazing experience ever like to be able to do it to be able to stay on the show for as long as I did for one. So that I was able to do as many styles as I did was awesome. So I got to work with a humongous range of big choreographers and nice styles of dance and trying to sort of master it in a very short amount of time, you know, with a new partner, and all these extra variables that come into sort of make the task even more difficult, which was I loved it was my favorite part of the whole show.
Diane Foy: 13:42
What was your favorite dance style? Or was there a style that was a little bit out of your comfort zone?
Lisa Auguste: 13:48
I like to honor styles. So I think maybe would be more on my personal perception of how I’ve done but like as it as a classically trained dancer, meaning valid type jazz, that kind of dancer going into ballroom. Yes, you have some of the poise. But I was so wanting it to be that thing I was telling you about like not to peg me as a ballet dancer, I should be able to mold into this ballroom dancer like that was like I don’t want it to be like, Oh, well, she did well, for a jazz dancer, I want it to be like, Whoa, she’s not a ballroom dancer. That’s the response, I want that for me for my personal struggle, it was to fight to be like I you should not be able to tell where my first started from. I want it to be that versatile, that malleable that well received. That was my personal goal. So I could say that the Ballroom didn’t stick as easily in my brain when it came to choreography. And, again, like I said, just trying to be that that essence of that true ballroom dancers that you would see in those amazing competitions, you know,
Diane Foy: 14:51
Yeah, that show it does categorize the dancers, whereas, you know, you got trained and everything, do you think you’re more one over the other?
Lisa Auguste: 15:02
I have preferences for sure. And I have things that I I’m really great at, I guess, and I would definitely say that more of the contemporary, you know, classically trained, that’s where my first love is for sure. But hip hop and street style is a whole other element that has so many variables of styles within that, which is also another love, which I found after 18 when I literally stopped doing the classical styles because I wanted to get out of looking like a ballerina doing hip hop. So I did break dancing, copying I was involving myself and whacking and voguing and house dancing and, and salsa and all of those other things that you go through. So like all of it was a part of the art. So for me the more amount of knowledge I could gain the better dancer and therefore better teacher better performer I will be in the end. It’s always college right? So for me, I was on the addicted to that I’m addicted to more stuff, different ways of moving and longevity of the body also so.
Diane Foy: 16:08
So getting to work with so many different amazing choreographers, who are some of your favorites, and what key lessons did you learn from them?
Lisa Auguste: 16:17
I would say to for me, mainly, that I can think of off the top of my head right now. Luther Brown for hip hop, one of my favorite things when I first saw his stuff, when I was younger was his formations and his rawness to the style of hip hop, for a person who literally felt movement and, and just let it come out of his body that for me at all, on its own is inspiring. So when I got to see his progression within his own evolution of his own art and being able to witness and, and practice with him every once in a while was really, really difficult to because he’s strict, you know, especially especially back in the day when you’re trying to push so hard for your vision to come to light, you know, and obviously, it worked out for him. You know what I mean? So like, the point is that he his his whole story from beginning to end, like his rags to riches, sort of story is like, it’s beautiful, and he’s creative, and he hears music really beautifully. And he has a great love for it, of the hip hop’s culture period, he pushed to me a way of finding that in Canada, in particular, that masculine drive within the female as a performer, because it especially now like that, it’s different. Like you have the girly hip hop where it’s about the booty and the heels and the hair and that this and that, that. And for me like hip hit his hip hop was, it was about the dance. So that to get to do that was awesome for me. Again, everything about it was a transition of his creativity, his ideas how he comes up with his ideas, how we actually moves, musicality of love, love everything about that. And for contemporary for me, I would say the biggest initiator for me was Linda Guarno, she has this also really great musicality, but this wonderful way of fusing your technique with raw emotion with no technique, with being able to tell a story really complete from beginning to end. And for you to get it as an audience member. And she’s really genuine about how are really authentic about how things and very organic sorry, even about how things come out and how she collaborates and works with whoever she’s creating on all of it’s like very warm and open and giving and supportive and unity so it’s almost a mix of both like a one that was really strong and hard but still loving and the other one was soft or hard and still loving but really different creative aspects and really brilliant in their own ways. And choosing those two choreographers together for me is one of my biggest inspirations with all the other people I’ve taken class from or workshops from, like about body movement would have been Peter Chu his understanding of detail and articulation in the spine and movement. Also Mia Michaels in my younger years her her movement was was also wrong came from a very guttural emotional, dark and light place at the same time which I really enjoyed about her and especially in the very beginning of her stardom love Teddy Florence his linear lines his expression of movement, how he feels the movement and how liquid in and smooth snake like movement it’s very interesting to try and get that that feel of his his natural movement. It’s all of it Yeah, all of it sort of starts to meld together into some boiling pot that makes it you know, eventually figure out who you are as a dancer, choreographer too.
Diane Foy: 19:57
Yeah, I think with any kind of art we take all of our influences and we get a little bit from here a little bit from there. And that’s what that’s what makes every artists very unique in their own way.
Lisa Auguste: 20:08 I agree, yeah.
Diane Foy: 20:08
So what opportunities came from So You Think You Can Dance?
Lisa Auguste: 20:14
We did our tour after which was great, all received. I don’t know if we really did a tour there’s one other ones that did the tour but either way was a lot of fun to be able to do those numbers and feel the love from everybody else. But did a little bit more film stuff after besides those industrial gigs that I was talking about earlier that come up every once in a while I was one of the nurses in Silent Hill 2.
Diane Foy: 20:42 Was Shall We Dance before So You Think You Could dance?
Lisa Auguste: 20:44
Yep, Shall We Dance was before it was right after Lion King. We did like this club scene in there which was a lot of fun. I did the Raptors also the dead are the Raptors for a couple years. See it is stuff not as much, I did a lot of Linda’s shows which are the integration and evolves had a lot of live theater live performances which I’ve done a lot of which one of my favorites to do.
Diane Foy: 21:10 Then there’s the Rocky Horror Picture Show remake?
Lisa Auguste: 21:13
Yep, so that was on TV that was in 2016, probably on DVD right now with Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice, Christina Milan reef Carney and some brief brief sorry, brief. Apologies to last name and Ryan awesome. Lot of fun to be a part of that production. Kenny Ortega was one who directed it and Tony Tessa was a choreographer. He’s also really brilliant. Really awesome. Kenny Ortega is an inspiration on its own.
Diane Foy: 21:39 Kenny Ortega has done so much.
Lisa Auguste: 21:42
Yeah, that was a dream come true. That’s for sure. Just to be able to work with those people. And the dancers that were hired for that gig was was brilliant musicians included. And yeah, and like Dirty Dancing, being one of my all time favorite movies like just to be able to work him was amazing. Yeah. So like, it’s just it’s interesting to like the people that you cross paths with within this to like, for Game of Thrones. What’s his name Snow he was in Silent Hill too as one of the actually I think it was one of his first first big, big gigs and being able to meet him before then like having that memory. It’s very cool. There’s any of those like crossovers I did a couple of things with this past summer that’ll be coming out. I think it’s a second season in the shadows that like sort of Australian comedic dark comedy. There’s like this one scene that I’m in. Another one is In the Tall Grass. It’s like a Stephen King thing that will be coming out on Netflix and play one of these very cool things. I did a Star Trek and one of the Calkins in a couple of the episodes, the new Star Trek discovery. Yeah, so it’s a lot of like film stuff, film, dance stuff sort of related. Recently, a lot of choreography I just recently finished choreographing Once On This Island, which a play already being done at ? theatre in Toronto that had finished running on March 3, which was sort of like a Caribbean story about sort of like the little mermaid a little bit more of like that. The Rich Prince and the one that the one that comes from a poor land, it’s sort of like race color, that hierarchy of things was really pretty brilliant, and well done. So that was awesome. Yeah, so just, I’m a busy body, my hands are in a lot of pots.
Diane Foy: 23:20
Is acting something you want to pursue more? Or is it more if it’s only part of a dance thing?
Lisa Auguste: 23:25
I would love to, it’s just a matter of trying to find the time to, you know, besides training on my own is to sort of get myself more involved into I feel like I need a workshop or like a sort of an intensive just to sort of get myself back in touch with the bascis and then start re-developing that skill.
Diane Foy: 23:46 Cool. And you’ve done a lot of music videos.
Lisa Auguste: 23:49 I have done a couple Yeah, that’s for sure
Diane Foy: 23:52
Is that where you get to dance a bit more hip hop and, and contemporary type of stuff?
Lisa Auguste: 23:58
Yeah, it’s easy street style dance, or something more creative, which would be the contemporary. So it’s one of the two but yeah, for sure, Sean Desman did a couple for him. And his were more of a blend of both to be real. When it comes to dance styles. Chanel, Monet dance live for her at one of the Fashion Cares, which was awesome. Krishna turned into one of her videos with some foam, foam party Dance Party, which is cool. Cast gotta back in the day, that was a fun one I did on a on a school bus that sort of drove around Toronto, and then we went into some club, that was a lot of fun that video shoot.
Diane Foy: 24:33
So what are some of the challenges that you faced along the way in your career?
Lisa Auguste: 24:39
Okay, so I moved out when I was fairly young, I would say mainly, the cost of sustaining and maintaining your training, if you don’t necessarily have the monetary help that would be would make that an easier transition. So they like trying to find that balance between work and training and keeping relevant and not losing at that drive. And the passion to not get jaded because of the hard work that it truly does require to be self sufficient and self employed. And always sort of in that 50/50 realm of high getting that thick skin and knowing that you get good enough and you work hard enough, you you will get what you need and what what what’s supposed to come will come. And later on in life, maybe because of the TV portion being more predominant later on, finding a place where I sit when it comes to my my color to be real. I have a shade that’s like in between what they would classify in television terms, in my opinion, obviously, it is it is changing. But it’s still there is that I’m like, not black enough. And I’m not light enough. You know. So I sit in this in between where I could look like something but don’t, I look way younger than my age but can’t really go for the young stuff. If I want to do something like bold and dramatic, like my hair is now sort of gets put into a category because now I’m no longer the traditional black girl because you’re not seeing natural, curly black hair. So there’s like a weird, a weird place that you sit when it comes to that stuff.
Diane Foy: 26:17
Yeah, so it’s a lot about what you look like and how you present yourself, then the talent and the gifts and the skills.
Lisa Auguste: 26:25
So that’s that’s the one that you try to navigate. And sometimes you just got to choose, you just got to choose is this is what I want. And my my goal now is just to be good enough that it doesn’t matter. Like, that’s just the goal. So regardless of what the situation is, and it does happen every once in a while, that you feel like Oh, I like it’s happened where I can’t get like, even when I was 17, I auditioned for Tokyo, Disney made it to the very end was signing contracts and all. And then I find out that they don’t hire color people unless they’re singers.
Diane Foy: 26:57 Wow. Wow.
Lisa Auguste: 27:00
Like, why did I, why did you make me go through that whole process of taking my measurements and all like, Why? You know what I mean? Like, there’s certain things there’s like, even if that is what you’re you’re asking for and then then be clear in your breakdown when you’re sending it out. Look, because you can be and it’s it may sound rude, but at least it will not waste my day. Like, I know what you’re looking for. I don’t fall into these specs. Okay, can’t go to this audition. Fine. Yeah, exactly. So there have been there been moments, you know, but you like I said, you have to get a thick skin when it comes to this this type of industry and know how to deal with that rejection, gracefully and learn from it. Because it’s, you know, sometimes, especially when you’re younger, you take it a little bit more personal and feels like it’s an attack on you personally not on the bigger picture of what’s actually happening in the society or what they need for this particular product or who they’re selling it to, for that matter. You know, so yeah, it’s learning but that I would say those are the the hardest lessons for me was about the balancing of your finances really learning how to work that for yourself. And, and the color for me every once in a while.
Diane Foy: 28:13
For finances, like how do you handle the times in between jobs?
Lisa Auguste: 28:19 That would be me teaching?
Diane Foy: 28:19 Yeah.
Lisa Auguste: 28:19
So teaching for me is sort of like my everyday, pays my bills and pays my rent, all the other extra gigs are the extra things that I you know, need to take care of, and putting money back into my arts training, classes, workshops, etc.
Diane Foy: 28:40 Right. What advice do you have for aspiring performers?
Lisa Auguste: 28:47
I would say, to find as many different styles of teachers as you can, to learn from everybody you can, try your hardest not to have an ego. In the negative sense of the word, you need an ego to have your self identity. But I mean, in the negative sense of the word where it makes you feel like you’re not good enough that type of ego. I say, try and surround yourself with like minded individuals, when it comes to your aspirations for this career. That if you do and when you do, I should say, when you do get to those lows, the not knowing is to remind yourself of the why, to be real, to remind yourself of why you started, why you chose this particular path, knowing it’s going to be difficult, but most artists that I know don’t like easy things as even if they want to they don’t they like a little bit of drama. That’s what we do. We sort of created for ourselves, and we need to remind ourselves that that’s what we created.
Diane Foy: 29:57 Yeah, we get bored. If it’s all too easy.
Lisa Auguste: 30:01
We do right, we need to remind ourselves, this is why so the challenges are always helpful, even if they’re really, really difficult. And if you stick to it, and you honestly keep keep being mindful of what your body needs. Pay attention. If vocalist, actor, Dancer doesn’t matter, pay attention to what you need. If you need to sleep, you need to sleep. If you need a day off, you take the day off. Like you need to really, really be mindful of what it is and listen to yourself.
Diane Foy: 30:26
Yeah, self care is important. Because sometimes, when you’re striving for a goal, that’s your just clear focus, then you want to work long days and and for dancers, you might injure yourself, if you’re pushing yourself too hard that way.
Lisa Auguste: 30:43
Absolutely. Then you need that that downtime to decompress to relax a lot of absorb you, a lot to marinate and digest and download everything you’ve already received in the time. So we need to just check back in every once in a while.
Diane Foy: 30:57
Yeah. And any advice for people of color, or women in their, managing your career, their careers, so that they may be avoid some of the challenges that you had?
Lisa Auguste: 31:11
I want to say this advice with a very sensitive way. Because depending on where the person is that receives this information, it can be taken too far. There is a point of being able to speak up and knowing how to speak up respectfully, and knowing when to speak period. And I know that sounds could sound a little harsh, but when to speak. But there is a tact and there is a timing and it doesn’t mean that you need to remain silent with something that is I’m making you uncomfortable. But there’s an appropriate way to approach everything. And my biggest thing is don’t do not be silent. If you if you’re coming from a sound place and it’s justified and you understand what it is that is either triggering you or not that it’s not reactive. Because we will not leave you couldn’t learn this way. But you’ll have harsher lessons. It’s fine, you will have harsher lessons, but it’s okay. But I my biggest thing was, I was very quiet as a child. And when I got that chance to really speak when I was in my early, most of my late teens. Some of that backfired because I wanted so much truth to be out that sometimes delivering that in the way I delivered, it was not helpful, even though it was just. It still was not helpful. So I had to learn how to curb the other side of the explosion of me being quiet for so many years. And and having that come out in a way that wasn’t balanced enough. So sometimes it created riffs and situations where things could have been avoided. And in retrospect, having those situations happen later. Now I have a better handle of how to grasp those personalities that are literally swearing and screaming at you in front of clients and you’re wondering what the heck is going on? What’s wrong with this person versus cuckoo’s? Nobody seeing this and nobody’s saying anything. And you feel personally attacked, belittled, all those negative feelings that come with that stuff. But learning how to deal with that and realizing what the actual thing is. And just hearing what’s being said, taking away some of the emotion and then addressing it later is way better than you just reacting and responding. I know, it’s easier said than done. But that would be my biggest, my biggest thing is to not be quiet. But remember how to speak to people and remember where it’s coming from everybody has their own stuff to deal with. And they don’t always deal with it properly, no matter if they’re in the higher ups or the lower does not matter. So you need to treat people exactly the way that you’d like to be received and how you want to be treated.
Diane Foy: 33:38
Right. I relate to that hundred percent because I was same way I was very quiet as a kid. And you just kind of, you know, keep your mouth shut. Don’t want to you don’t want to rock the boat. And then when I don’t know something snaps in you. Then all of a sudden you’re on a curious curate that you’re like, I’m going to speak in every eveything. Did you just say that? And then yeah, then you got to rein it in. And and I don’t know about you. But I’m a Sagittarius and apparently we’re known for being very blunt.
Lisa Auguste: 34:10
Oh, yeah, I am. I’m a Pisces, but my moon is in Gemini. So Geminis are very, very sharp with their tongue. So.
Diane Foy: 34:17 Which is I don’t know, we’re just honest.
Lisa Auguste: 34:20 And sometimes, even though it’s just, you just like, Lisa.
Diane Foy: 34:27
But I don’t know, if you kind of need to go through that to learn the lesson.
Lisa Auguste: 34:32 You do? Well, I did anyways, I did.
Diane Foy: 34:36
I find empathy is a really good thing. Because if you get to a point where even though someone’s yelling at you in front of people, you have to kind of somehow figure out where they’re coming from. Don’t take it personally, try to figure out how to maneuver that and get your point across without stooping to their level, I guess.
Lisa Auguste: 34:58
Right. We’re raising to that high end energy of, we didn’t actually need to go to level 12? We could have stayed at a level five and been okay. That’d be my biggest lessons for sure. And keep at it, man, just keep at it. It’s one thing to say don’t give up. No matter what, just keep at it. Because you never know when that the next person that you needed the next gig or will introduce you to somebody else to introduce you to somebody else. Hence how we’re in this podcast right now. You know, so you just never know.
Diane Foy: 35:27 Yeah, the importance of relationships.
Lisa Auguste: 35:31
Yes, open and communicate and be willing to share an experience even if it feels out of your comfort zone in some areas. I think it’s necessary.
Diane Foy: 35:41
Yeah. If someone was just starting out, you know, the business is all about who you know, but what if you don’t know anyone give any advice for starting to kind of get into the scene?
Lisa Auguste: 35:51
Okay, I would say Well, for one depends on your age. Not that age matters just depends on where you would start in it, where you want to approach so like, if you’re young, like young, meaning child to I don’t know, let’s say 18 years old, or 17. Let’s say before you get out of high school. They have community programs, I’m sure that have dance, if that’s what you want to do. They have community theater also that you can go into. I’m sure in some schools, they have extracurricular things that some kids are probably either can’t go to it. And if there’s extra money, don’t know how schools go. But there are things that there are available to them that sometimes they’re just afraid to experience because they may be the only one out of their friends that want to do it. But I encourage them just do it. And then there are open studios that have open classes within the studio doesn’t matter the age generally speaking, if you’re an adult, I would say get yourself into open classes, beginner open classes, and depending on if you want to do street style, like get yourself involved in music, video type of dancing, that’s street style. So go to any studio that opened offers hip hop or freestyle, hip hop house, dancehall reggae what’s whacking house, any of these things that that are now up and popular for the mainstream of hip hop. And also get yourself out to the involved in the scene when it comes to hip hop, which is going to hip hop night, it’s going to maybe some breakdancing battles look up things that they have around the city too because they have like some open things around every once in a while. They have many competitions, I’m sure that the rising stars still does some stuff to like, if you already naturally have some sort of talent, get yourself out there and just try and get more experience on stage or just performing for people. Even if you can’t really go out and do anything. If you can’t afford anything to go there’s a lot of YouTube things too that will break things down and offer. You know, I don’t know, they’ll have like, breakdown Janet Janet Janet Jackson’s rhythm nation video, I’m sure there’s stuff like that online.
Diane Foy: 37:53 I’ve watched all of those. I’m all about Janet Jackson moves.
Lisa Auguste: 37:57
Right? There’s still references if you don’t have any actual money to participate and things like that. There’s still things available, we can learn that way. And then there’s like, open things that a lot of things a lot a lot of festivals and dance things hoping an app sorry happened in the summer. In Toronto in particular, so and lots of stuff on the street, like you have a lot of street dancers in the summer too like, go up to the street dancers and ask them, Hey, would you train there’s a lot of people that train in different areas, and they’re like, it’s free for all you can just come and go. Like, that’s how I started learning when I was 18. They used to have a spot at the Grange back in the day, just and their gymnasium and just a whole bunch of the boys would go in and just practice and you could just go and just sort of visually learn, you could ask if you wanted to. But that’s how I learned. So you just have to sort of have the balls so to speak 10, turn that gusto to just put yourself out there and find find a way there is a way find one.
Diane Foy: 38:52
And so what are your future goals? You’ve accomplished so much, what are you working towards?
Lisa Auguste: 38:57
I’m working towards the acting for sure to better my skills that way. I’m working on choreographing more for in general but expanding my skills choreographicly for theatre, and still using my because I still choreograph for these competitive studios too. So that still gets used more but the theater aspect in my choreography for like actual musical theater is a little bit different. I still I work at a college to at Randolph, I work and I teach their highest jazz program, jazz level, sorry, there at the program. So that’s helping me expand on that aspect of my choreography. Trying to get a little bit into voiceover work. Actually, spiritually developing those are my goals.
Diane Foy: 39:40
You got to have personal goals too. And what is your Why? Why do you do what you do?
Lisa Auguste: 39:48
It is this warmth, and release that dance gives me especially when I’m in movement, it’s a cathartic therapeutic way for me to get things out from my first way of being which was we didn’t speak you know, everything was either you know, through emotion crying body language, knowing timing right from that infancy. So for me this, this whole dance thing is that connection back to myself and reminding myself of my actual vessel that I’m in that because I’m a little bit you know, out there when it comes to spirituality is so like, reminding myself of my body and the importance of it, how it feels to move and that muscle pain and strain that love I have for it that creating and learning and sorry, yeah creating and learning through my body, hearing music differently because of dance, having different associations with it, it just, it’s it’s an all encompassing part of allowing myself to be myself. That is the why it is it is no longer a thing I learned or craft or a skill that is something I do it is it is now a part of my being that I can no longer categorize it as a job or I don’t know it is it is it is it is it just is.
Diane Foy: 41:21 Part of who you are.
Lisa Auguste: 41:22
Yeah, it just sort of feels like I know that it’s not me, but it it. It is definitely a part of my person. And in a way I used to speak some of the things that I don’t necessarily get a chance to speak for one and being able to have a piece of music that will beautifully depict that through the lyrics and then having my body being able to express that and then having both come together. It’s this whoo, this instant rush of a surge of love. That’s what it feels like big surges of love. Yeah, it’s really yeah. And it hasn’t really changed. It just keeps evolving as I get older, which I’m fairly surprised to be real.
Diane Foy: 42:03 And so where can people find you online?
Lisa Auguste: 42:06
On Instagram, I’m not that great at posting because I’m the worst with this whole social media stuff. But yeah, Instagram are probably the easiest. I post the most things there. I’m not on Facebook. My website is on my Instagram account anyway. So and yeah, so I’m not really teaching open classes at the moment in this in this city. I’m like I said, I’m get the random college program. And I teach at private studios, one in Mississauga one and Vaughn.
Diane Foy: 42:33 Cool. Thanks for joining us.
Lisa Auguste: 42:35 Thank you so much for having me, I had fun.
It was so great to get to know Lisa a bit and have her share her experiences and advice with us.