Friday, March 28, 2008

Shimmy Exclusive Interview

Neil Haskell

Photos: Tania Gressell

Shimmy: So what have you been doing these past few months?

Neil Haskell: Well, the (So You Think You Can Dance) tour ended at the beginning of December so I kind of had that month off. Then I went to film a movie for MTV in January and February. It's called The American Mall and filming it was really fun. I've always wanted to crossover into film and television and this project was an excellent chance for me. It's a musical so I was able to combine dance with singing as well. It's a great opportunity and I felt that a musical movie would be the best way for me to break into the film world. It's more natural for me and now I know a lot about that business. It has also opened up a lot of doors and that's really cool. I just got back to New York about two weeks ago and I've been just getting back into the swing of things here. Taking class and auditioning again.

Shimmy: What exactly is your background in dance?

Neil Haskell: Well I grew up in Buffalo, New York and I trained at David Demarie Dance Studio. I also trained at a ballet studio as well. When I was fifteen I started going to summer intensives for ballet and that definitely gave me five or seven weeks of solid training, six days a week. I eventually moved to New York and I did a Broadway show called, "The Times They Are A Changin" and then I did So You Think You Can Dance.

Shimmy: Now that you have had several months to do other things, looking back, how was the whole So You Think You Can Dance experience for you?

Neil Haskell: I realize that the highs from it, all the great things that went on were just so awesome. Everything is so much better than what I thought it was as it was happening. I tried not to get too excited while I was on the show, but now when I look back it was such a great experience to go through and it will be great to look back on years from now. I also realized that the lows really weren't that low. Even though they felt really low as they happened- like being in the bottom three- it hurt that week, but looking back now it was just such an overall positive experience for me. When I was on tour I loved watching everybody perform every single night and seeing them grow. It was an amazing thing to watch us grow not just as dancers, but as people.

Shimmy: Are you still in touch with anyone from the show?

Neil Haskell: I'm not as in touch as I should be right now but I think everybody has been really busy. I'm going to be in Buffalo this weekend and I know that Sara is going to be there with the Avril Lavigne tour so I'm hoping to see her.

I've seen Danny Tidwell a couple of times in the city and I've seen Sabra and Kameron as well. So I've seen a few people that have been in and out of New York. Oh and Dominic decided to call me at 4am once too (laughing).

Shimmy:What inspires your dancing?

Neil Haskell: I guess right now it's really about making my body feel good. When I'm in class doing a jump or turn, somebody else's movement- it just feels so good to be able to do that. I think that's what keeps me dancing.

Shimmy: What choreographers do you love working with?

Neil Haskell: I think Wade Robson's choreography is the most challenging. It's strange and quirky. You have to find a way to learn where your weight, your hip, foot and just everything is supposed to be or else it won't look right. The way he does it is so unique that if you aren't doing it exactly as he's telling you to then it's going to look awkward unique rather than cool unique. I love being able to do his stuff. I also love being able to dance Mia Micheal's stuff because it is more my style. Her jazz and contemporary feel is very unique as well and it suit my body and way of moving.

Shimmy: If you weren't dancing what might you be doing instead?

Neil Haskell: I don't know. I'd probably be singing or acting or doing something where I'm still performing.

Shimmy: What advice do you have for dancers that have yet to make their mark?

Neil Haskell: Keep working as hard as you can. Be in class as often as you can, take extra classes. Watch the other people in class because I think you can learn the most from watching other people, whether they are better than you or not. There is always something that can be learned when somebody else is dancing.

Shimmy: You haven't done a lot of press in the last few months so what would you like to say to your fans at this point?

Neil Haskell: I'm still working and I cannot wait for the MTV movie to come out in August so that people can see what else I can do. Life has been really exciting and who knows what will be coming out next!

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