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Conversations with TJ Tekurio

Today we’d like to introduce you to TJ Tekurio. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Hi TJ, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
TJ Tekurio is a native to South Florida. His early training experience includes Houston Ballet, Harid Conservatory, Virginia School for the Arts, Paul Taylor, Dance Theatre of Harlem, River North Jazz Dance Chicago, Dance Now Miami, and has his BFA in Choreography & Performance from Towson University.

TJ started his early dance career on luxury cruise ships where he was a dancer and company manager. He then transitioned to choreographing, staging, and directing events with Holland America Line. This allowed him to work with great professionals like Tabitha and Napoleon, John Charron, Jill Hillier, Melanie Lewis, and many more throughout Los Angeles. He has continued to choreograph/assist and direct many award winning shows and events for Celebrity Cruise Line, Miami Beach Gay Pride, Holland America Line, and most recently Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ship.

He has more recently worked as a Product Manager and Producer with Don Casino Entertainment Agency where he helped successfully build a new, on-line market with specialized content, new programing, and exciting visuals. He continues to mentor and teach children and adults around South Florida at Dance Dimensions, Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theater, and with The Broward Center for the Performing Arts. He also has partnered with AvMed Insurance Company to curate a Senior Citizen Health and Wellness series for their clients called Purposeful Movement. The program is designed to gently elongate, stretch, and strengthen the body and mind, to help with everyday tasks. Mobility is stability!

TJ has also crafted classes for “All Abilities” students, collaborating with Wings of Friendship, highlighting the capacity of movement and the joy it brings to any age group. He is now embarking on a semester-long program where he is writing a class syllabus for 3rd-8th graders in the public school system, integrating arts into the daily classroom lessons, as well as performing arts teaching.

In his spare time, TJ created and produces EASE Podcast, which helps demystify the entertainment industry showcasing professionals in the field. He is also the proud Co-Creator and Co-Host of TidalWave, a broadcasted visual podcast breaking down familiar entertainment topics and lifting up creatives in the community.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
This question is multifaceted.

When it comes to Choreography/Teaching aspects of my career, it has been a part of my DNA since I was a child. I have always had a passion for movement, expression, and creating patterns and “pictures.” With the help of some incredible mentors, I have learned how to transition my skills to include choreography for major cruise lines, popular recording artists, and many musical theater shows. I have dedicated countless hours on the job and independently to identify how I can express my creations in both a fun and engaging way for performers. I have also been learning a lot about teaching education fundamentals (Math, Science, Language Arts, etc.) using movement. I have had the pleasure to partner with the Broward County School Board, implementing lesson plans on how to integrate arts concepts into the classroom. Movement has supplied me with so many avenues to explore in many different worlds.

When it comes to the podcast branch of my career, I tasked myself with doing the unthinkable and stepping outside of my own comfort zone. I didn’t know a single thing about podcasting and I was insecure about my voice. So what do I do? Watch YouTube. I was inspired by amateur Mukbang artists on the platform creating content, and I knew I had what it took to start a simple podcast.

As I was venturing through the process, I had no one to confront except my inner self. It was a hard journey, but the hardest step, and the thing I tell all aspiring podcast creators, just start! Getting the first episode done, edited, and out into the universe is the best feeling in the world. When I had no one and needed answers, I had to look inside to find out what I really wanted to accomplish and promote on this platform.

Every step of the path has been moments of fear, but I always had to rely on my gut and breaking down the walls of “not wanting to ask for help.” I had to learn the hard way, people do want to help. People do want to see each other succeed, but you have to be willing to ask. That was the obstacle I had to overcome. Asking questions about things I had little understanding of instead of assuming to know more than I did. It was oftentimes humbling. It is very okay to not be okay with something, but it is not okay to pretend to be okay. You cheat yourself out!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
People ask me what I do for a living, and I become speechless sometimes. I would say I’m a Choreographer, Teaching Artist, and Wellness Program Curator. I have the pleasure to Choreograph and Assistant Choreograph for many major cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruise Line, and Holland America, to name a few. I have also had the pleasure to choreograph musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof, Something Rotten, and Disney’s Descendants, to name a few. I also do arts integration for the Broward County School Board. I teach dance and movement for all ages around Florida, and I have partnered with AvMed Insurance to create new and exciting virtual content for their members. We have created a class called Purposeful Movement, a carefully curated class that helps elongate, stretch, and strengthen the body and mind. It’s based on principles necessary for fall prevention and steadiness. And we are rolling out a more robust offering called Dynamix, which is a movement class that dynamically moves through space with a mix of tempos, actions, and movement qualities.

I had a brilliant resident teaching artist come up to me and ask, “What makes you special or unique?” I was shocked and blindsided by this. I paused and said, “I don’t know.” Without hesitation, she said, “You have the ability to remain so calm and bring an ease over an otherwise stressful environment.” After thinking about this more, I do think this is one huge aspect of what sets me apart from others.

Being a part of the entertainment industry, I understand how frantic and chaotic things get, but I really have honed the skill of making highly educated decisions with the calmest of demeanors. Throughout my career, I have seen how inefficient anger or chaos cause emotions to run high without reason. With high expectations, clear communication, and a solid, creative eye, I try to make every situation run as smoothly as possible. Am I screaming inside, yes! But knowing I have a solid team with me, I can make anything happen.

I think I would say I am known for movement and helping people understand, interpret, love, and feel connected with their bodies. I’m starting a new adventure of lecturing about dance and dance history with Nova Southeastern University’s Lifelong Learning Institute. This lecturing, paired with my vast information from my podcast, EASE, I’m able to help answer questions about performing. My podcast dives deeper into answering professional entertainment industry questions. Everything you wanted to know, but no one had the time to tell you.

The short answer to this question, I’m a very chill professional artist who has a passion for teaching everything he knows.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Oh gosh, so many great memories stick out.

I had the honor and privilege to go to performing arts schools my entire childhood. I entered into the program at 3rd grade and graduated #17 in my class from my performing arts high school. As I was gearing up to make the big decision on what’s next, I was heading to a huge dance conference in Maryland where there were many recruiters from various universities. My school had the honor of performing multiple dances in several galas. I even had my own choreography showcased in an evening gala. I was 1 of 3 student works featured, and we closed the whole conference with another incredible dance. Before heading to the conference, my mom was tucking me into bed (Hey, I was a busy kid that danced almost 8-10 hours a day, so she never saw me, and it was some nice bonding time). I leaned over and promised her she wouldn’t have to pay for my schooling when I go to college. I knew this was a big statement, and she shrugged it off and told me not to worry about that.

Well, after the conference happened, I was humbled by the response to my audition and dances presented. I returned home with multiple offers for college. After school, I would negotiate the terms of my college career, on my land-line between dance classes. I remember the day when I accepted a Full Academic and Talent Scholarship to Towson University (room and board included). The day I could tell my mom what I was able to accomplish was just the biggest thank you to her and everyone who helped me get to where I was. Every tear I shed, every hour I spent away from my family, every minute I devoted to my craft had finally paid off. I couldn’t be more proud of that moment.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Heather Sachlaben Brendan Shelper

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