We had the good fortune of connecting with TJ Tekurio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TJ, why did you pursue a creative career?
Growing up, I had the privilege to attend Performing Arts schools (Elementary-High School), so arts and creativity were all around me from an early age. Once I committed to being a dancer I dove head first into creative movement, choreographing, performing, creating, and soaking up all the creative juices I could. I had a few mentors that took me under their wings and helped me see my artistic potential and gave me opportunities to sharpen my voice. My artistic craft and years of discipline took me to college, where I only deepened my knowledge on the arts and expanded my repertoire by collaborating and taking on new projects (Film, Visual Arts, etc). When I was on the cusp of graduating and making decisions about careers, I knew I was going to have a job in the arts for the rest of my life. With the help of my family support system, my mentors, and my inquisitive spirit, I couldn’t stop being an artist and knew this is what I wanted-needed to be doing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a creator through and through. As a Dancer, I created art with movement and delivered passion with my body. As a Choreographer, I created pieces to remember and opinions to be challenged. As a Director, I curated experiences for other artists and motivated audiences to see the beauty that was before them. As a Podacaster, I listened and shared the experiences of some incredible people in hopes to help other artists who need help getting past that next “flinch” moment. These “Flinch” moments are what brought me to where I am today.That moment where you push yourself past your comfort zone and find that growth to the next level. Growing up, I felt quiet lonely as a male identifying dancer in a field dominated by beautiful female identifying dancers. As a person of color, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the profession. And as a male I rarely saw many many who looked like me as well. I grew up not knowing that dancing has so many different facets until I made my first leap by leaving my home to train. With the help and support of my mom, she took me to auditions for summer programs. I will go more in-depth about how lonely auditions are, but knowing I was 12 years old standing in front of a panel of people to be judged, probably plays a small role in my confidence level as a grown adult. I made that decision to move forward in my career and go to Houston Ballet for 12 weeks when I just turned 13. I continued to make these incredible decisions throughout my growing period. Through the bullying at school, countless hours of dance training each week, the countless times someone told me my step or posture wasn’t good enough, or I wasn’t good enough, or my hands weren’t good enough, or my feet weren’t good enough, or I wasn’t masculine enough, I still made those bold choices to keep going. And every choice I made only led me to be a more independent performer and artists. No one could stop me, and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. I turned the struggle into a win. My proudest moment growing up was when I received a Full Academic and Talent Scholarship to college. At the age of 16, before going to sleep one night, my mom tucked me in…yes, I appreciated my mom spending time with me at night after not seeing her all day. I promised her that she would not have to worry about spending money to send me to college, I was going to take care of it on my own. I knew I was enough, I knew I had the gifts needed to make it, but I just needed the confidence. Again, I have to thank my mom for letting me go out there and do it. Sentimental Fact: My mom would hold her breathe while she watched me perform. This was fine when I was in my early years of performing, with a few minutes here and there. Come my senior year of High School, I was given a 14 minute solo that dealt with abuse and heavy subject matter, she tried holding it, but she too had to relax and watch the journey unfold. Moving into the real world of dance and choreography was challenging. Like I mentioned, auditions are a lonely place. You have to solely focus on yourself, You have to be your own business manager, sales person, employee, boss, product, and so much more, to get the 1 job that 4000 people want. We all go through the process of questioning our worth, but how you overcome it is key. Im not alone when I say, being a performer is a tough life. I was so happy when I did land offers to dance professionals while in college and after college. I made that leap/that flinch and couldn’t be happier with the path toward luxury cruise entertainment where I became a Dancer/Company Manager/Director/Choreographer. The Choreography aspect of my life was a great exploration. Of course it was always met with a, “Ummm, how about you do this” or a “I’m not sure about that”, but I had to continue onward to find my voice. During my high school college career, I was able to find my voice and allow it to shine, inside and outside the studio. I was gaining more confidence in myself to focus on things I thought were important, including how people viewed me. With some pretty uneasy conversations, I always had to make that choice to continue and make the work I felt was important. I continued to have those “Flinch” moments in my career. When I moved cross country to work as a Director/Choreographer, getting paid! When moving to NYC to jump back into performing. When deciding to drop everything and move back home and Direct and Choreograph closer to home, then leaving everything to change careers. I wanted to push myself and learn as much as I could about my industry, so I took on more management roles, and gained a behind the scenes sort of knowledge to the entertainment industry as a whole. After leaving “the stage”, I realized all the decisions I made and “Flinch” moments I had helped me gain so much experience.Experience to push forward and to also meet some pretty cool people. This leads me to my current brand. EASE Podcast was developed to highlight the Entertainment and Showbiz Experiences of industry professionals I’v met along the way. People I knew had amazing stories that I could have benefitted from growing up. I wanted to deliver this platform to artists out there who are wondering how to get into the industry, in any field. How to continue to have a successful career, and how to transition it into something once you are done in the industry. Performers are some fo the most resilient people I know. We overcome judgement with ease, rejection with poise, and are regimented to deliver a product in any circumstance. Using all the tools these people learned in their careers they let listeners know all the things people forgot to tell them, were too busy to tell them, or just didn’t want to tell them to get ahead. This has been such a passion project of mine. I create all the episodes myself and has been such a labor of love. I want to make sure people have the experiences I never had access to growing up. as I continue my growth process/career process, I always look back and see how can I help others. My path hasn’t been easy, but I have had wonderful people there to help me when I needed them. I want to be that to young artists, current professionals, or just the everyday person wanting to hear what its like and what tools that could help them in their journey through life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Day 1: Chill Day Lauderdale-By-The-Sea beach. NO better way to spend the first day with my best friend than with a long beach day in the sun and water. Breakfast: First Watch-Yum! and they have so really great Vegan options. Pit-stop: Press and Grind for coffee. They have the best Oatmilk Latte around. Nicest staff and some vegan treats for the beach. Lunch: Burgerfi for sure. Great food and you don’t have to go far. (After some downtime) I would suggest Mai-Kai for some incredible happy hour drinks followed by GoBistro in Hollywood, FL. A low key, incredible Asian spot. I would suggest a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts or a walk on Las Olas. We would of course have to stop in Kilwin’s for one of their incredible candy confections. yummy! Kilwin’s reminds me of my childhood. The smell of their fudge brings back so many fond memories of growing up. Day 2: Exploration Day Morning: Coffee at Parlour Bakery (of course Vegan) for greta coffee and some light treats. Morikami Gardens for a nice walk through the grounds. What a beautiful place to relax and explore. Afternoon:A nice lunch at Farmer’s Table. This restaurant attached to a hotel is far beyond what you would find at a normal restaurant. Their Farm to Table feel is unmatched by many restaurants. Evening: Its Tuesday so we are going to TacoCraft LBS. They have the best environment. Tacos are incredible and some amazing drinks. Day 3: Endulge Day: We go shopping!!! First Stop Sawgrass Mall. Colonade Section to be specific. You can get such great deals on high end designers. Lunch: Sushigami-Conveyor belt sushi in the mall. It such a cool concept and so fun. Evening: We of course would hit up TeeJay’s Thai Restaurant for a killer Happy Hour. Their happy hour menu is incredible and my family frequents this place at least 2-3 times a month. Food, Drinks, and sushi are all part of their Happy Hour. After that we chill, order take out from Falafel Bistro in Coral Springs, and pick up a bottle of wine (or two) from Publix. Falafel Bistro has the most incredible soups and cauliflower appetizer. Day 4/5: Adventure Since we are so close to Orlando and My Best Friend and I are huge Disney Freak, we go to Disney. A huge benefit of being a Florida resident, you get huge discounts on tickets/hotels/packages to all theme parks in Florida. It really attracts a ton of visitors to my house, for sure. Day 6: Down South I’d have to take my friend to see art in culture at the Wynwood Walls. We would eat lunch at Planta, Vegas sushi in South Beach. Early Afternoon: We would head back to Fort Lauderdale to do some Beer tasting at Funky Buddha in Oakland Park. This brewery has expanded to include food, games, and entertainment, from its first humble opening years ago. You can always rely on their seasonal brews. Sweet Potato Casserole is to die for. Evening: We would have a night out in Winton Manors. Having dinner at Ethos. Their Mediterranean Food is always fresh and light. A perfect fit for a night of drinking around Wilton. We would for sure start at Drynk. A nice lounge inspired space with craft cocktails. A great start of the night. We would hit up Hunters for some dancing and drinks, then the possibilities are endless. One thing is for sure, we would hit up New York Grilled Cheese to finish the night. Their endless array of sandwiches, including vegan options, are down right delectable. Paired with a side dipper of soup and waffle fries, what more could you ask for. Day 7: Rest and Relaxation Morning: We would start with some paddle boarding through the canals of Fort Lauderdale, looking at some of the incredible real estate on the water. Once we worked up an appetite, we would stop at Mayapapaya on the River for some fresh healthy food to keep us going. This place doesn’t have a fryer on the premise, so you know your food is being cared for by someone watching over it. Every experience I’ve had here has been delicious and completely satisfying. Afternoon-We could check some Facebook groups to see if any free events are happening, or try to catch an Ale’s and Asanas for some yoga at a brewery. I would take my friend to my favorite barber to get his hair cut before heading home. Buck and Beard has been a stable for me in my hair growing journey. Erik always cares for my hair and helps me gain confidence in my hair. The shop has grown from a few barbers in a small garage, into a massive wing of a shared working space. We would pop by next door, Milk Money for some dinner and drinks. They have a full menu of vegan options as well has an amazing list of cocktails and beers. Great environment to relax and chill for the night.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, I have owe my artistic career to my mom. As a single parent raising 2 kids, she always found a way to give me the tools I needed to grow. I wouldn’t be where I am without her support, encouragement and most importantly her love. EVERYDAY! My family structure helped raise me and see me through my success and failures, They have been my foundation and I can’t imagine where I would be without my Aunt Charolette and my sister, Tiare. Their continued support have helped me on my professional artist journey. When people see more potential in you than you see in yourself, I can’t help but call them mentors. Angela Mauti, Artistic Director of the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theatre, gave me a home and the laid the foundation I needed to take me on my path. Hannah Baumgarten, Co-Director of Dance Now Miami, helped refine my passion, sharpen my creative eye, and gave me the nudge I needed to explode into the industry. Towson University gave me a ground to make mistakes, try out new ideas, and ultimately decide what I was going to do as a career. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to interact with such talented people along the way. As continue on my artistic journey, I have met a woman who leads by example and has helped me though some of career decisions. Jill Hillier saw something in me professionally that I had no idea was there. She helped develop my “big picture” eye that has helped launch me into exciting projects. Extensive travel and big cities deserve a shout out, but the friends I have made along the way are equally important. When seating my podcast, EASE Podcast, I found the experiences/advice these individuals have are so valuable. My best friend, Michael McArthur, passed this year, and I realized what an impact my friends have made on me in the past 10-15 years. They really have become my family and helped weigh in on important decisions in my life. Michael McArthur, Calvin Cooper, Karen Kim. Suzy Bondoc, and want more. And finally, to all the casts, students, projects I’ve taught or been a part of, I thank you! I’m humbled by every experience and learn something new every time. These moments help refine my artistic career.
Instagram: @easepodcast @tjtekurio @tidalwavetheshow
Facebook: @tjtekurio @easepodcast @tidalwavetheshow
Youtube: @easepodcast @tjtekurio @tidalwavetheshow
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Brendan Shelper Todd Cherry