Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"And the Oscar Goes to…" Film Critic Ariel Fisher Predicts the Winners

This is the first year I’ll try to make an educated guess on who'll win the Oscar based on industry reactions, rather than my own personal tastes. It’s a strange hat to wear, but I think it fits. We’ll have to wait until March 2nd to see if my estimations are correct!

Best Actor in a Leading Role 

This year’s Best Actor race is a difficult one, mostly due to an overall underwhelming list of nominees. Christian Bale’s nod for American Hustle feels misplaced, in spite of his caliber overall. The film was adequate, and his performance was great, as would be expected. However, it hardly feels up to snuff as one of the best male performances of the year.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort of the much-discussed The Wolf of Wall Street is excellent, but hardly the best we’ve seen from the actor. 

Bruce Dern, on the other hand, offered a nuanced, sad portrayal of a man succumbing to senility and old age in Nebraska. Though his performance was excellent, it doesn’t fit with standard Oscar contenders. He’ll be overlooked, there’s no doubt.

This year’s battle is really between two contenders: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey. Ejiofor took the lead in Steve McQueen’s latest triumph, 12 Years a Slave, as the free man kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Solomon Northup. His performance was elegant, and powerful, bringing audiences and critics alike to their knees. I would love nothing more than to see him awarded for this role.

However, it will likely go to McConaughey for his portrayal of AIDS victim Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. His nomination is deserved, and in what has come to be a stupendous couple of years for the actor, it’s hard not to award him for his exceptional work. However, it’s not his best work of the past couple of years, and I still stand by my previous criticism that his weight loss took centre stage above his performance. Do not misunderstand: he is an exceptional actor, and his performance as Woodroof was excellent. Just not quite excellent enough. I still think he’ll take the trophy, but I believe Ejiofor deserves it more.

Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Actual Winner: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Like much of the Oscars this year, this category is peppered with great and questionable nominees. Amy Adams’ performance in American Hustle drifted from beautifully dark and complex to painful and stilted. Her affected English accent, while put on for the sake of her con artist persona, was enough to yank me out of the film repeatedly throughout its run time. It’s just not solid enough for the nomination, let alone a win.

The lovely Judi Dench was lovely in the spotty Philomena. That’s about all that can be said. It’s a charming film, and Dench does a great job with the soft-spoken role. However, more than anything, it’s the story that’s heartbreaking. This isn’t to snub Dench’s performance, just to say that it’s not quite Oscar caliber. Then again, let us remember the 1999 Academy Awards, where even she was flabbergasted by her nomination and subsequent win.

And then we have Meryl, the Queen of the Oscars if ever there was one. She’s here with her 18th nomination, but likely not her fourth win for August: Osage County. Although her venomous character afforded her the opportunity to be ruthless and devastatingly callous and manipulative, it’s not quite her best work. Worthy of the nomination? Absolutely. But someone will beat Meryl.

Gravity was, at one point this year, all anyone could talk about. And while it’s certainly a visual achievement, the performances were simply alright. Clooney, as usual, was Clooney. Only he was in space. No great achievement there. Sandra Bullock, however, truly performed. And while her performance was good, it was simply that. Good. It’s not the best performance of the year, nor will it be rewarded as such. Or rather nor should it be.

Cate Blanchett has been cleaning up the awards for her performance in Woody Allen’s latest, Blue Jasmine, as the damaged titular character. While this is hardly Allen’s best work, and would scarcely grace the presence of a top ten list, Blanchett’s performance is exquisite. In a comedic role, she allowed the severity of her character’s condition to shine through, deftly avoiding being reduced to little more than comic fodder. She’s deserving of every accolade she’s received for the part, and will hopefully earn at least one more. Not only does she stand the greatest chance at winning this award, she’s easily the most deserving of it.

Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Actual Winner: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Bradley Cooper’s presence for American Hustle baffles me. His performance felt wrote, and predictable at best.

Likewise, Jonah Hill’s nomination is a surprise. The poor, schlocky use of improv, especially on Hill’s part, for The Wolf of Wall Street, distracted from the film.

Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, unfortunately, feels like filler. While his performance was good, I don’t know that the nomination was necessary.

And then you have the titans. For his third time now, Michael Fassbender has done an outstanding job with Steve McQueen’s material. He was faced with the difficult task of bringing the vile Edwin Epps, slave master and plantation owner, to life in 12 Years a Slave, and he did so astonishingly.

In a widely different role, Jared Leto made his big screen comeback after a six-year absence in Dallas Buyers Club as Rayon. Thankfully, it isn’t just the drastic weight loss that catches your eye. He fills the screen with a glowing presence I never knew he was capable of. He commands the film every moment he’s in frame, and depicts a realistically heartbreaking portrayal of an AIDS victim. He’s simply outstanding. So far, he’s garnered a ton of support for the role, and thus far he seems to stand the best shot of taking home Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Actual Winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

This year, there’s no contest as to who deserves the Oscar. Sally Hawkins did an admirable job in Blue Jasmine. While she’s become a critical darling thanks to the film, her performance doesn’t move mountains. Her character didn’t call for the same amount of emotional volatility as did Blanchett’s Jasmine, which may have been a detriment. It’s hard to outshine that kind of potency.

June Squibb, nominated for her performance of the disgruntled and feisty wife to Bruce Dern’s senile Woody Grant in Nebraska, gave a charming enough performance. While she’s hilarious in the film, her nomination is a bit of a head scratcher for me.

Julia Roberts was explosive in August: Osage County. She allowed herself to unleash a ferocity I don’t think I’ve ever seen from her. She was ugly, like the pain of her life, and it worked. She was raw, painful, and stripped bare in the best possible way. But the race this year is between only two young women, both exceptional talents, although one more deservedly nominated than the other.

Jennifer Lawrence was entertaining enough in American Hustle, the film that seems to have become the darling of this year’s awards season. She did a good job. Beyond that, there isn’t much to be said. Her nomination for Winter’s Bone made much more sense, even than her win for Silver Lining’s Playbook, in my opinion. But there seems to be this push to make her the new Meryl. She took home the Golden Globe for her performance, and had everyone scratching their heads. If politics carry this year, which, let’s face it, is pretty much par for the course, she may take her second Oscar in two years.

But, she’ll have to take down the magnificent Lupita Nyong’o first. By far the best female performance of the year, Nyong’o has managed to solidify her career with her first performance in 12 Years a Slave. With what was one of the most cripplingly beautiful performances in an already devastating film, she’s emblazoned herself in the public consciousness, and likely in cinema history. Of all of the actresses nominated in this category, she deserves it the most. I will be stunned if she isn’t awarded this honor she so richly deserves.

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Actual Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Documentary Feature

This year’s documentary race is a predominantly political one. Cutie and the Boxer and 20 Feet From Stardom, however, separate themselves from the theme. The former intricately goes in-depth into the lives of two Japanese artists living in Manhattan. Though the film is a standout, it hasn’t garnered enough support to take the award this year.

Meanwhile, 20 Feet From Stardom is a powerhouse, garnering unanimous critical praise. While a truly exceptional film, full of emotion and fire, it’s runner up at best.

The political stream in this category starts with Dirty Wars, the Rick Rowley directed documentary with Blackwater author and journalist Jeremy Scahill at the foreground. His detailed look at the covert operations of the US military, while significant, winds up feeling like the most lackluster entry of the bunch. With barely any support from the Producers Guild Awards or the Directors Guild Awards thus far, it’s not likely it’ll take the cake.

The Act of Killing, on the other hand, has garnered a great deal of support and praise for its remarkable effect. No other film on the list managed to affect the change this film did. Asking a former Indonesian executioner, Anwar Congo, to recreate many of his executions on camera with some of his former “coworkers” forced him to take a long hard look at his legacy. The result is astounding. It’s one of the most remarkable documentaries in years for its ability to affect change, even in just one man. The change is not only visible, it’s visceral, and captured on film for all the world to see.

Lastly, we have The Square. A Netflix production, it’s garnered the most support across the board, and as such stands the best chance of winning the Oscar this year. The film puts the Egyptian Revolution and the protests of Tahrir Square in a clear light from the perspective of the people, the very demographic crying for liberty. Filmed on the political battleground that often looked like a warzone, the film captures first hand accounts from those involved on both sides, giving the world unfettered access to the truth behind the protests. Aside from its monumental achievement, and from being an exceptional piece of documentary filmmaking, The Square has been garnering awards across the board. Winner of the People’s Choice Award for Documentary at 2013’s Toronto International Film Festival, it’s also taken the International Documentary Association’s Best Feature award, and The Director’s Guild of America’s Best Feature Documentary award. It won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary at Sundance, was in the National Board of Review’s Top Five Documentaries, and won the Documentary award at the Dubai International Film Festival. Its praise is irrefutable, and it is likely the Titan of this category.

Winner: The Square
Actual Winner: 20 Feet from Stardom

Best Original Song

The nominees this year in this particular category are all solid. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is infectious. It’s perfect for Despicable Me, and, as the video will suggest, it’s impossible not to dance to.

U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandella: Long Walk to Freedom is a perfectly lovely song, but winds up feeling a little flat.

And then you have Karen O and Spike Jonze’s “Moon Song”, a stripped down acoustic lullaby from the surprisingly tender Her. An intimate and delicate song, it’s absolutely stunning.

But the winner this year will likely be “Let It Go” as sung by Idina Menzel in Frozen. With all the love this film is deservedly receiving, it seems only fitting that its song about perseverance and self-acceptance take the award.

Winner: "Let It Go" Sung by Idina Menzel (Frozen)
Actual Winner: "Let It Go" Sung by Idina Menzel (Frozen)

Best Director & Best Picture

This year’s Best Picture nominees are a ramshackle group of things that don’t belong. I still can’t quite wrap my head around Captain Philips, American Hustle, Philomena, or, honestly, Nebraska. The inclusion of ten films rather than five still baffles and aggravates me. But, alas, such is the way of the Academy. I’ve come to expect far less.

Sadly, I’m still surprised. The Wolf of Wall Street, though oddly subversive, and the subject of much heated critical debate, is not best picture quality. It’s barely on the radar for the category – though still a clearer contender than Nebraska, Philomena, and Her. Likewise, Best Director won’t be going to Scorsese. He won in 2007 for The Departed, so it seems very unlikely that the Academy would give it to him again so soon, especially with two Titans in the ring, and one “dark horse.” In spite of all of its critical praise, Dallas Buyers Club won’t take the title. Nor will the charming and heartwarming Her. Nebraska and Alexander Payne will likely be left out in the cold, as well, alongside Philomena and Captain Philips. And then there was Gravity and American Hustle, the two films and their respective directors who may share these most prestigious awards. While it received universal praise, Gravity is just not the best picture of the year. It’s a beautiful film, to be sure, but that’s about it.

[Director Alfonso Cuarón on the set of Gravity]

Alfonso Cuarón, however, could possibly take the Best Director nod for that very reason. It’s a well-directed film, even if the end result is imperfect. He’s also been nominated three times previously for Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men. He has a win coming his way, and this is likely his year.

American Hustle could take the Best Picture category. David O. Russell has been nominated twice before for directing, just last year for Silver Linings Playbook, and in 2010 for The Fighter. Both films had numerous nominations in their respective years.

[Director David O. Russell on the set of American Hustle]

And while I don’t think he’ll take it for directing, it’s not a stretch to think that American Hustle could earn him the Oscar. Hustle’s garnered tons of press, and its theatrical release so close to the Oscars could prove a leg up. It has a whopping ten nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, won Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes, took home the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award from the SAG’s, and won Movie of the Year at the AFI Awards. It’s proving to be a force to be reckoned with.

However, now that 12 Years a Slave tied with Gravity at the Producers Guild Awards, the Academy may change its tune. The PGA winner for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures has taken the Best Picture Oscar the past six years running. It’s hard not to bet on those odds. Meanwhile, with two of the most talked about films of the year tying for the title, this may clear up the odds. 12 Years a Slave clearly deserves the win. Out of every film nominated, it has the most merit, and is of the highest caliber.

[Director Steve McQueen on the set of 12 Years a Slave]

While it strays away from the stoic force behind McQueen’s remarkable Hunger, it opens up his body of work to a wider audience, without compromising artistic integrity. This will be McQueen’s first Oscar nomination for directing, so the Academy may feel like he’ll have ample opportunity to give it to him at a later date. However, he’d also be the first Black director to win the award. Considering the film he’s nominated for, this would be the perfect time to make history. Awarding McQueen the Best Director Oscar and Cuarón’s Gravity Best Picture seems the most logical progression of events.

Winner: Steve McQueen, Best Director (12 Years a Slave)
Actual Winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Best Director (Gravity)

Winner: Gravity, Best Picture

Actual Winner: 12 Years a Slave, Best Picture

A very special thanks to Ariel Fisher for sharing her Oscar predictions with us.

Check out Ariel's latest film reviews on her blog The Fish Bowl and follow her on Twitter.

Watch the 86th Academy Awards on CTV Sunday March 2nd at 8:30pm EST.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Film Critic Ariel Fisher Thinks the Oscars Are Mostly Bullshit

Get your Oscar ballets ready, everyone! Film critic Ariel Fisher will be sharing her Oscar predictions with TorontoVerve tomorrow, but before she talks about Christian Bale’s comb-over or Jared Leto’s push-up bra, she tells us a bit about herself and how she really feels about the Academy Awards.

TorontoVerve: Do you remember the first film you saw in theatres? 

Ariel Fisher: When I was two years old my parents took me to see Home Alone and apparently every time the burglers were on screen, I cried. I have no recollection of this, but Home Alone started it all. From then, we always watched movies: Back to the Future trilogy, Indiana Jones trilogy, Godfather and The Karate Kid. I loved everything that I saw because back then I wasn’t thinking critically. I was just so in love with the magic on screen and the worlds that were created and the fantasy of being a part of them -- even if it was just a few hours.

TV: So when did you start reviewing films? 

AF: That started for me when I was in my last year at McMaster University. I was taking Art History and Film. I was really directionless, but I love movies and wanted to be involved with it. I began writing film reviews for McMaster's arts magazine, A.N.D.Y., and it was a wonderful environment. My editor really encouraged the free-thought process and thinking out-of-the-box. It was that moment that made me feel that I can do this.

TV: You had an interesting movie marathon with your boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. While most couples were watching romantic features like The Notebook or The Vow, what did you and your Valentine watch? 

AF: This Valentine's Day was the first my boyfriend and I have spent together. Neither of us are particularly fond of the "holiday." That being said, we figured we'd have a bit of an anti-Valentine's Day. We watched the original Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

TV: So why horror on Valentine’s Day? 

AF: The truth is we didn't really think of it as being a horror Valentine’s. In fact, we wound up being more romantic than we'd intended. Bob’s a horror junkie and our first couple of dates consisted of watching horror movies. His collection is nearing the 700 mark, and a solid 80% minimum of his collection are old VHS'. Easily 90% of his entire collection is horror and he ended up teaching me a lot about the genre.

TV: What’s your style when you review films?

AF: I take notes a lot when I’m in a screening…

TV: You actually take notes when you watch a movie?

AF: Yeah, I do. Sometimes I can come out of a movie with 10 pages of notes or just one sentence.

TV: Is it hard to do that and pay attention to a movie?

AF: You kinda get a knack for it. It’s difficult with subtitled films obviously -- unless you speak the language of the film. I happen to speak french so with a French film it’s not that difficult for me to turn my attention away for a couple of seconds. If the movie is particularly bad, it’s very easy to turn my attention away and write 3 or 4 pages of my review. When I first started, I could only write reviews immediately after the film while it was fresh in my head. Now I’m getting better at taking my time to create a finely tuned critical piece. It’s better that way to put the pieces together and evaluate the film as a whole.

TV: So what’s your opinion about the Academy Awards?

AF: Honestly?

TV: Yes.

AF: It’s bullshit. It’s politics -- more so every year. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. It’s fun. Honestly, I always watched it for the dresses. I’m not going to lie. The moment when I realized the Oscars was bullshit was when Shakespeare in Love won for Best Picture. That day for me was when the music died.

TV: Yeah, that year Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan.

AF: This will date me, but I was 10 for that Oscars and I had seen Elizabeth and loved it. I wasn’t allowed to see Saving Private Ryan yet. But I thought Elizabeth was an incredible film and when Gwyneth Paltrow beat Cate Blanchett for Best Actress, I was livid. I thought it was bullshit. Who is rigging this? Saving Private Ryan wasn’t yet on my radar, but now I can look back and say, come on! It’s all politics in some way or another. Whether or not it’s the Weinsteins flexing their muscle….

TV: Harvey is the master.

AF: Yeah. There’s always a string to be pulled. It’s seldom actually a measure of quality and talent. It’s more a measure of popularity or politics.

TV: So what do you think of this year’s nominees?

AF: Frankly I think the idea of having 10 Best Picture nominees is ridiculous. It over saturates the categories and negates the entire notion of there being a higher level of quality. I don’t understand some of the nominees this year. It doesn’t feel like a celebration of film -- it feels like a celebration of Hollywood this year. You’re no longer celebrating an achievement in film-making. With the exception of a few, none of these films are particularly remarkable.

TV: Like you, I lost my faith in the Oscars -- especially when Spike Lee was robbed from getting deserved nominations for Best Director and Picture for Malcolm X, but despite how we feel, we always end up watching the show. Why do you think?

AF: I think we’re enchanted by the system. Everybody has their excuse. The most common one for me is watching the show for the dresses. Every year when the nominees come out, I’m still hopeful that I’ll be surprised, but that hope is dwindling. I’m like a kid at Christmas when the Oscar noms first come out, but lately, I don’t get the Easy-Bake oven I always wanted -- I get a scrunchy instead (laughs).

TV: What do you think -- should we boycott it? 

AF: Boycotting isn’t the answer. Film lovers should demand for better content and fight harder for the little guys. And it’s alright if they aren’t nominated for an Oscar. No one takes the Academy Awards seriously anyways. That’s one of the problems -- we need to promote independent films more. They get overshadowed by the glitz and glamour.

TV: What’s your favourite film in 2013 -- whether nominated or not? 

AF: That would be Belgium’s Broken Circle Breakdown because it’s fearless, beautiful, painful, elegant and dirty. It’s so many things that you always hope film is going to be. It embodies the full range of human emotion -- all of its angsts and conflict. It’s stunningly scored, excellently acted and superbly written. Even in a couple of scenes where it’s a little heavy-handed: the father gets angry over stem-cell research -- ok we get it, you have an agenda, but it’s still a worthwhile cause. It’s a film worthy to be recognized.

Be sure to drop by tomorrow for Ariel's Oscar predictions!

Follow Ariel on Twitter.

Watch the 86th Academy Awards on CTV Sunday March 2nd at 8:30pm EST.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


"My style is casual and ready-to-go. There's a subtle Canadian-quality about it. I have a fashion New Year's resolution: I'm going to try to combine more menswear in my wardrobe."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Heartbeat of Home's Latin Dancers Curtis Angus & Clare Craze

Not long after Heartbeat of Home begins, it becomes clearly obvious that the Riverdance producers have gone to great lengths to bring audiences something bold and original. 

For the first time, sharing the stage with the beloved Irish Dance Troupe, are Latin, Flamenco and Afro-Cuban dancers who feed off each other’s energy to create a spectacle set to the band’s rhythmic beat. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was dazzled by its precisioned dancing.

Latin dancers Curtis Angus and Clare Craze generate much heat together on the Mirvish Theatre stage and it was a pleasure to sit down with the duo to discuss the incredible show and their passion for dance.

TorontoVerve: While growing up in England, how did you two get involved in dance? 

Clare: My mom took me to ballet classes when I was 2 because her mom did that. When I was 5, I started tap and modern and I did that until I was 18. Later, I was accepted at Middlesex University where I received a degree in Dance and Performing Arts. My first job was with Disney and more recently, I did Burn the Floor, which is a Latin dance show. A few jobs later, I got Heartbeat of Home.  

Curtis: I didn’t start dancing or acting until I was 10. My mom entered me in the Sylvia Young Theatre School and I was there for 2 years. At 14, I was trained by Anna du Boissom, who is a ballet teacher at Danceworks. She taught me pretty much everything I know. She advised me to stick to ballet because it’s the strongest dance -- everything else, I would easily pick up and she was right. I went to a Millennium Dance College and I trained there until I was 18 and shortly after, I got a role in Hairspray and things went up from there.

TV: When you commit yourself to dance at such a young age, do you have time for a normal childhood -- like hanging out with other kids? 

Clare: No, I didn’t have a lot of friends in school (laughs). But that was because I was always quite creative and I found them all a bit stagnant and boring. I would always crave the times when I would go to dancing because all my friends were there.

Curtis: I did. I was always going out. I never liked being indoors. I had lots of little friends here and there -- like this kid named David. We always were up to no good. Eventually, I met my best mate Daniel when I was in South London training to be a dancer. I’ve known him now for too many years. My best childhood memories are with him. We did everything together and even to this day, we’re still in touch. I think having that normality as well as doing something, which I really really love keeps me balanced.

TV: What was the audition process like for Heartbeat of Home

Curtis: My agency initially tried to get me an audition, but was unsuccessful. I still pursued it because I was really interested in the dance styles. The show fit me perfectly as a dancer. I wanted the producers to see that I was versatile. I wasn’t just a musical-theatre dancer -- I could do other styles too. So I got the details from Clare and showed up at the audition anyways.

   [Heartbeat of Home - Jim Byrne Photography]

TV: Oh, so you knew each other before the show? 

Curtis: Yes, we did, but only as acquaintances. The audition process was very hard. [There were several callbacks]. At the last audition, I remember showing up and seeing Clare in her Latin gear and I was slightly shocked.

Clare: Because you were previously auditioning to be an Afro-Cuban dancer.

Curtis: Yes, I’ve never danced Latin before and Clare had to teach me the sequence, which I had to pick up quickly. But since getting the show, I trained heavily in Tango and Salsa and now I’m a Latin dancer.

Clare: He’s conveniently forgotten to tell you that I auditioned him because I already had the job (laughs).

Curtis: Yes, that’s very true (laughs).

Clare: I auditioned for the workshop and it was tough because the producers were only looking for 1 female Latin dancer, but I got it. The workshop lasted 3 1/2 weeks in Dublin in 2012 and I loved it so much that I didn’t commit to anything else. When the producers began auditioning for the actual show, I was involved in the auditioning and judging process. I even did all this embarrassing judge stuff on the website, where I filmed myself saying: "Hi! My name is Clare Craze and I’m a judge of Heartbeat of Home." The producers saw that Curtis and I had this chemistry during the Afro-Cuban audition and they wanted to see if we had the same connection with Latin. Obviously, we did because he got the job. And we were lucky enough to join the show when they were creating it because the producers would ask the dancers, "what can you do…how can we show your best skills?" If you can do some Samba, they'll throw in some Samba or if you can do some flips, they'll throw in some flips.  I don't know any other show that has done that.

TV: Which one of your dance numbers in the show are you the most excited about performing? 

Clare: Hmm, I think it changes every night. That’s why we’re lucky to do so many different numbers because if you are tired of one or frustrated with another, there’s always a third, fourth, fifth that you can do. There’s this really fast Salsa number that used to scare me, but I got my stamina up enough now so it doesn’t scare me as much. It’s just go, go, go from start to finish.

Curtis: There are so many good numbers. I would have to choose “Dream Dance”, which I perform with sisters Gianna and Natasia. As a dancer, for me -- funny enough -- it’s a dream to do it in the show. I’ve done a lot of things, but I’ve never had the opportunity to be so free and that’s why it's my favourite dance. Then it flips around in the second act where I’m doing tap and the Tango. The hardest dance for me is the Tango because it was never really my style, but I was very determined to look like I was a Tango dancer and I’m proud to say that I've accomplished that.

TV: And both of you do the Tango together. 

Curtis: Yes, we do.

Clare: I also love the finale when everyone is on stage together. You´ve got all the Irish, Flamenco, Afro-Cuban, and Latin dancers, as well as the singers and the band out there. We’re all just screaming for each other. Probably my favourite part is when we all come forward and do some Irish dancing in one long row.

TV: I remember that. I couldn’t decide on whom to look at. You were all brilliant. 

Clare: And we’re just so bad at the Irish dancing (laughs), but we’re just like come on let’s do this!

[Heartbeat of Home - Argentine Tango - Jim Byrne Photography]

TV: I'm going to put you two on the spot right now. You're dance partners for a great part of the show. How does it feel to dance with each other? 

Clare: I really like it. Curtis is really patient. We can talk and we connect really well. If something isn’t working, we can work on it without getting angry, which is a big thing. And then when it does work, it’s just fluid. It feels like you’re dancing on your own, but there are two of you. It’s amazing. I really love it. He’s the best partner I've had in ages.

Curtis: We have a connection. That’s the biggest thing. I haven’t had that in a dance partner before. For me, I’ve danced with a lot of people and I’ve never had such an instant connection with someone on stage. I don’t have to force anything. It just comes out naturally.

Clare: We both have a real passion for dancing, so neither one of us has to push the other one to come to rehearsals. We both want it as much as the other. It’s really good when that happens because you just keep going. And when one of us is tired, the other is saying: " on!"

Curtis: Yeah, we like to push each other. We like to change things in the show to make it more challenging and real.

TV: So when you’re not dancing with each other, do you need to take a break from each other or do you still hang out? 

Clare: I feel like we’ve been best friends since the process started. We get along really well.

Curtis: Yeah, we do hang out.

Clare: We both like watching movies.

Curtis: We saw The Wolf of Wallstreet the other day. It was funny. You'd think we’d want to be separate after the show, but then we end up hanging out anyway.

                                         [Heartbeat of Home - Jim Byrne Photography]

TV: After Toronto, you guys will be performing in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and then New York. You're living your dream. What advice do you have for any budding dancers who dream of being where you are? 

Clare: I have to say if you’re not sure, don’t do it. If part of you is saying, I might want to be this or I might want to be a dancer, then don’t do it because there are so many great dancers out there -- you won’t stand a chance. You have to be like: I can’t imagine not dancing. I don’t even think you have to be the best technical dancer. You just have to want it the most. I definitely wasn’t the best technical dancer. I just wouldn’t give up. Whenever I ask myself: "what would I do if I wasn’t dancing?" I would always cry. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep dancing.

Curtis: You´ve got to have patience. Gosh, it’s hard. It’s the hardest thing. No matter how talented or good you are, you can still get rejected. You can never think you’re the best at what you do. If you start thinking like that, then you need to just stop because there’s still so much to learn. It’s a hard commitment. Even when you finish college and you´ve got an agent, it doesn’t mean it gets easier. I’m still on my laptop looking for my next job. I can’t think it’s going to come easily to me because it doesn’t work that way.

TV: So what does that do to your personal lives or do you even have a personal life? 

Clare: I don’t have one right now.

Curtis: Yeah, we don’t. When you’re on tour, you're in a little bubble and it’s hard to come out, but you have to because you have friends and family back home. When you’re working at home it’s easier to have a personal life. I’d go meet Daniel for a game of snooker or spend time with my daughter.

Clare: I just have my family and literally a couple of friends. The rest is just dancing.

Heartbeat of Home is currently playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until March 2nd.