Photograph by Richie Lubaton Images is courtesy Billy Mustapha
There are various paths to turning into knowledgeable dancer and no two dancers’ roads are ever precisely alike. Billy Mustapha’s expertise, lightning-fast talents to absorb choreography and his versatility as a mover are why he’s been chosen for and featured in high-profile tasks like ABC’s Once Upon A Time, The Flash on CW and Disney’s Freaky Friday and Descendants three. It’s also why this Canadian, born and raised in Calgary, is booked as a dancer to tour the U.S. in 2019 with a multi-platinum recording artist. Like all dancers, nevertheless, Mustapha has stayed his course in dance because of a personal dedication and devotion to the artwork type and because of the individuals who have acted as guideposts along the best way.
Trial, Error and Overcoming Nervousness
Mustapha started down his pathway in dance after experimenting with quite a lot of sporting activities. Hockey (the preferred sport of his two brothers), kickboxing, soccer — none of those felt like the correct fit.
“I told my mom I didn’t want to do any of them but she was adamant that I have something. The search continued until I watched my older sister dance in her recital,” Mustapha remembers. “I’ve been completely consumed by dance ever since.”
Starting his dance schooling at Calgary’s Dance Spectrum Inc. at age seven, Mustapha immersed himself in each dance genre the studio provided. Choosing a physical and artistic outlet in performance might have appeared shocking for a kid who not often left his mother’s aspect and required his brother’s presence at birthday parties to which he alone was invited. Nevertheless, Mustapha’s experiences in dance and movement exploration progressively introduced out a confidence that helped him to beat his separation nervousness. At simply 17, he moved to Vancouver alone to comply with his passion and pursue a profession in dance.
“Never would I have thought that the shy, insecure little boy would be able to live on his own in a new city,” Mustapha muses. “But I made it happen, knowing it was all for dance.”
Mustapha made the 600-mile leap (for our worldwide readers, that’s almost 1000 km) to Vancouver to bear the Intensive Training Program (ITP) at Harbour Dance Centre. A program designed to train dancers for careers in business dance, ITP consists of over 20 hours per week of company training and courses in dance, in addition to appearing, singing and even aerial and circus expertise.
It was a chance Mustapha might not have grasped had it not been for mentor, dance skilled, and creator and host of The Dance Podcast Lauren Ritchie. Ritchie hosted a program referred to as The Dance Lab, throughout which dance business leaders would interact in video chat with aspiring artists eager to take subsequent steps within the dance business. Among these leaders was ITP director Moe Brody. The expertise tremendously influenced Mustapha’s determination to audition for an elusive spot in the ITP program.
“It is rare to find a dancer that is trained extensively in hip-hop, tap, ballet and jazz,” Brody explains. “Billy was incredibly dedicated to his craft and wowed the other judges on the panel.”
Mustapha excelled inside the program, dancing lead roles and turning into an integral part of the the exhibits produced by ITP. He was also known as “Dance Captain” for going out of his method to help the choreographers, who incessantly referred to as upon him for help in rehearsals.
“Billy has a natural glow about him when he performs his signature style, and ITP was elevated because of his involvement,” praises Brody.
Nice dancers who go the space in an business as competitive as dance, sometimes remain gracious and humble all through their careers. Displaying hints of his personal greatness, Mustapha didn’t overlook to thank his mentor Richie for her present of empowerment by way of preparation as he seemed towards his future. Her reply, “It’s because I believe in you, Billy,” along with the time she invested in him was vital for the rising dancer, giving him confidence to pursue his goals.
Photograph by Ernest Von Rosen is courtesy Billy Mustapha
Like Something Out of a Fairytale
Canadian choreographer Paul Becker has worked with a few of the largest names in leisure, together with Ariana Grande, The Jonas Brothers, Ciara and Kanye West. His identify is well-known, having choreographed over 200 movies and television tasks, from Twilight to Descendants to the Netflix collection A Collection of Unfortunate Occasions and Once Upon A Time.
It was throughout Becker’s work on As soon as Upon A Time that Mustapha, who was nonetheless dwelling in Calgary on the time, discovered the choreographer can be conducting a master class and audition over the period of a few days in Vancouver. It was brief discover and flights have been expensive, so Mustapha made the 15-hour journey by way of bus to arrive at the grasp class just in time.
Nerves aside as he took the category with already seasoned performers from the Vancouver dance scene, Mustapha made an impression on Becker that day.
“I was impressed with his unique style and his ability to learn choreography incredibly fast,” Becker recollects. “It was due to this fact that I immediately hired him as a lead dancer for Season 6 of Once Upon A Time.”
Booking the job didn’t cease Mustapha from attending the audition a couple of days later for the training experience that it offered.
“It was a relief knowing that I was already booked and I got to watch many veteran dancers audition, learn what works for them and why they are so bookable.”
Having worked with him on the TV present, Becker considers Mustapha “one of the most accomplished and exciting faces in contemporary dance.”
See footage from the fateful master class under as Mustapha performs in the group at 1:47 and at 2:40.
Incomes Respect and Rewards
That first yr dwelling in Vancouver was a check of Mustapha’s expertise and stamina. Shortly after starting coaching as a part of ITP, he auditioned for the award-winning TwoFourSeven firm, a aggressive hip-hop crew that includes some of Vancouver’s prime dancers and choreographers within the style. Although hip-hop was not the world by which he’d undergone his most in depth training, he was accepted into the company — a testomony to his versatility as a dancer. The simultaneous experiences and the physical demand of rehearsals, courses and coaching put Mustapha to the check.
“Even though my body and brain were often overexerted throughout that year, that was the year I saw the most growth in my dancing abilities. I would gladly do it again.”
That progress led to more and higher opportunities. Broadway, movie and television choreographer John Carrafa has been nominated for 2 Tony awards and he has been honored with an Obie Award, World of Dance Award, as well as the 2005 Media Choreography Honor for his work on The Polar Categorical. Mustapha’s numerous training made him a standout throughout auditions for the Disney Channel’s Freaky Friday musical for which Carrafa was choreographer.
“As a result of this comprehensive training,” says Carrafa, “he was cast in all three of the major dance scenes.”
Carrafa goes on to say that out of the more than 100 dancers concerned within the movie, Mustapha was solely considered one of about eight dancers forged in all three of these major dance scenes and considered one of only 4 dancers selected to be in the forged’s skeleton crew, a gaggle of the manufacturing’s strongest dancers who have been answerable for creating the inspiration of dance scenes, which have been then taught to the higher forged of dancers.
“I was especially impressed with the way in which he was able to regroup and execute complex dance routines, given that the choreography was rapidly evolving and changing,” Carrafa says of Mustapha. “He is one of the most talented dancers I have worked with in my career.”
Mustapha’s successes on display haven’t diminished his love for performing on stage. He enjoys the direct response and invigorating power of a reside viewers. Performing lately in certainly one of 5 main roles in Sonder, a brand new manufacturing by TwoFourSeven director Carlo Atienza, gave Mustapha a singular opportunity to attach deeply with the struggles of his character. Viewers members experiencing their own difficulties have been touched by his efficiency and reached out to him after the show. It’s no shock then that, as a dancer who imagines he may pursue a profession in psychology in an alternate life with out dance as his focus, Mustapha describes the delve into character improvement and private discovery a career spotlight.
“The opportunity to perform such a vulnerable piece on stage was a release and so rewarding. Letting large crowds see my heart fully open and heavy has inspired me to live life more openly and to not be afraid to show whatever emotion I am feeling.”
This Is It
Mustapha’s colleagues and mentors are all fast to describe his immense talent, ardour for his work and his capability to reinforce a manufacturing together with his presence. It couldn’t be more clear that he will go far on his street in dance.
Yet, for all the reward and accolades, Mustapha says probably the most rewarding thing about being a dancer is to feel feelings via movement, and to make an audience really feel something in flip. A defining moment for him is an easy memory of standing among his siblings on stage as they lingered following his remaining performance at Dance Spectrum. Having completed a successful show and after basking within the love and help of a huge prolonged family of friends, academics and mentors, Mustapha’s mind was little question contemplating his future and the new experiences to return with a mix of sentimentality and excitement.
“It was strange because my brothers have no dance ability but they just wanted to feel what it was like to be on stage,” he recollects fondly. “It was in that moment I knew I was on the right path.”
Billy Mustapha and siblings. Photograph by Wafa Mustapha.