Canadian Built: Taveeta Szymanowicz
Everyone has seen a shooting star. It rapidly burns through Earth’s atmosphere, emitting a fleeting streak of light before it’s swallowed by the night sky. Rarely, though, do we see that same energizing force in a human. Taveeta is one of these humans. She moves through life unapologetically passionate about the things that she loves. Pushing herself to achieve not one thing, but everything she dreams about. We managed to sit down with Taveeta to discuss her love of dance and entertainment, where it has taken her and where she plans on going next.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Naturally, I’m a performer and entertainer - I love doing it all. I started with dance when I was 6 and that gave me the drive and discipline to apply myself to everything I’m doing today. Professionally, I’m a dancer and actress and I’m currently working on my music career. I want to break into the music industry since acting, dance and singing go hand in hand for me.
On the acting side of things, I’m involved with theatre, TV and movies. This December, I’m starring in Ross Petty’s production of Sleeping Beauty at the Elgin Theatre which I’m really excited about because it’s a great family event that I’ve been a part of for a year. I also just finished filming a movie called Jazz Hands written by my friend Kira Murphy. My character is the fashionista but I can’t tell you more than that. We’re hoping to have it launch in 2017.
What got you into the world of dance?
I started dancing when I was 6 and fell in love with it instantly. From the get-go I took it very seriously and knew it was something I wanted in my life forever. It didn’t come to me super quickly but I worked hard and I was fortunate enough to get to a level that took me to my professional career. My whole life has consisted of waking up, going to school, going to dance, coming home and repeating. It will always be something that has given me all these opportunities and helped me be where I am right now.
What drove you when you were younger?
What drove me was knowing that I was doing it for myself. It was just my passion for it. When I first started out I was never that competitive kid who tried to outdo everyone. I understood that my love for dancing was all that mattered. I just worked at it and I knew that one day I would be the most flexible and most talented one but that I had to work at it. Eventually, I got there.
Today, I’m working on music and acting and it’s still the same thing that drives me - my love of dance.
“I’ve learned to know being different is amazing”
What pushed you to pursue it as your career?
It actually was something that fell into my lap in my senior year of high school. My best friend called me before the day of auditions for The Next Step, which is one of the TV shows that I’m on, and told me to go audition for a part. It was super last minute, so I just went in hoping I would get a dancing role - I didn’t have huge expectations. They ended up developing a whole new character for me and I’ve been with the show for three seasons now. That was my breakthrough and I will forever be grateful.
After that, I got myself an agent whom I instantly clicked with and soon after, booked another TV show on Nickelodeon called Make It Pop.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in getting to where you are today with dancing?
Time management in high school was very difficult. My school would end and I would be at the studio for 4-5 hours after that. I had to be really organized and put myself on a strict schedule so that I could do both my school work and my dancing. I missed out on a few social events but at the end of the day, it was so worth it because it’s what brought me here.
Today, it’s deciding where to put my energy because I want to do so many things. Right now I’m filming a movie called Jazz Hands which is set to come out in 2017. I can’t say much about it but it was really fun to play the role of the fashionista in the movie. On top of that, I’m trying to work on my music. It’s a challenge trying to make it all work. I’m figuring it out slowly but it’s definitely a work in progress.
What is your biggest passion? Something you would be doing if it weren’t dancing, acting, singing and performing.
My biggest passion has always been geared towards working with kids and giving back however I can. It does kind of go back to dancing because I teach and am a choreographer. In the future, I want to open up a school for kids who don’t have the opportunity to pay for dance classes.
I’ve started a lifestyle brand and blog called Veeta Girl which is the platform through which I’m trying to empower young girls and women in dance. The premise of the blog is beauty, fashion, fitness and girl talk geared towards being true to who you are and accepting everything about yourself. Through Veeta Girl, I’ve already collaborated with a jewelry brand called AVEL. We’re designing chokers coming out in October. Proceeds of the choker sales will be donated to Because I Am A Girl since, on my side of things, Veeta Girl is all about empowering women and I love everything that charity does for girls in developing worlds.
I also have an improv based dance company called Liberum Dance projects where we move for those who can’t move. Proceeds from our shows, projects and workshops are donated to Easter Seals, a non-profit organization helping children with disabilities.
Are you in school?
No but that’s on my list. I’ve been fortunate to continue to work and book new projects so I haven’t been able to go to post-secondary but it’s something I do want to do. In the future there’s so many things that I want to do so I would get a business degree to facilitate those endeavours.
What’s your favourite part about living and being from Toronto?
My favourite part would have to be how diverse and multicultural we are. To be able to walk down the street and see so many different types of human beings is really inspiring. It constantly fuels the love and positive energy that’s so important in life.
How do you think your city has shaped you to be who you are today?
Because the city is so diverse and full of culture, it’s an extremely accepting and open-minded place. There’s a place in the city for everyone and I think if I wasn’t exposed to that, I wouldn’t have gravitated towards all of the things I’ve gravitated towards. I’m constantly trying to fill myself with as much knowledge and culture as the city can give me.
“We are on fire and I’m so proud to be from here”
If you could describe Toronto and Canada in one word, what would you use?
For Toronto I would say “fuego”. We’re just on fire and we’re not going to be able to put it out.
I know this is two words but for Canada I would say “peace makers”. I truly am just so proud to be Canadian. We’re leading in positivity and peace making so much that other countries are noticing. We’re pushing our values and energy into the global sphere and it’s inspiring to watch.
What makes you the most proud about being Canadian? Why?
I love travelling and saying I’m from Canada. We’re game changers. More and more people ask me to tell them about Canada and Toronto when they find out where I’m from. It’s a sign that we’re doing something right!
If you could pick any other place in Canada to live, where would that be?
I actually just came back from an international tour and spent a lot of time traveling through Canada. I loved Vancouver. It has a city vibe and a relaxed nature. It was a really nice and refreshing take on how a city can run. I would love to spend some time there and maybe even live there for a while to see what that scene is like. If we had their waterfront in Toronto that would just do it for me. It’d be the cherry on top of a delicious cake.
It’s not surprising that Taveeta is a performer. Her presence is contagious and her enthusiasm for her life is infectious. One minute of speaking with Taveeta puts it all in perspective. Of course this girl - who is as talented as she is grateful - is rocketing through life. Taveeta moves with the impetus of her whole city. The only difference between her and the shooting stars we grew up venerating is that her flame isn’t fleeting and just like her country, it can’t be put out.
Writer: Sarah Eskandarpour
Photographer: Alen Palander