Tuesday, 19 November 2013

November 19, 2013: "Down in the New Orleans"

New Orleans
City Of New Orleans – The Big Easy – NOLA - Nawlins

Person: Creative Resilient Vibrant Cultural Spiritual
Tanya Harris - Louis Armstrong – Ellen DeGeneres

Place: Historic Festive
The French Quarter - Café Du Monde - Bourbon Street - St. Bernard - The Swamp

Thing: Unique Expressive
Cajun -Beignets -The Saints - Fleur De Lis - Mardi Gras - Creole - Jazz - Seafood

Cafe Du Monde CoffeeMe and New Orlean Saint Cameron Jordan

Aboard A Swamp Tour - Met A Friend

Photos: Cafe Du Monde Coffee, New Orlean Saint Cameron Jordan,  Aboard A Swamp Tour

Mardi Gras Beads
 “Nawlin’s” culture reminds me so much of my Caribbean heritage. The people are filled with so much joy, energy, and pizzazz. The food is full of spice, flavour, and love. The music makes you wanna get down at any given moment and of course, carnival is celebrated annually through the Mardi Gras parade. Therefore it is no surprise why I fell in love with the City of New Orleans after my visit in June 2011. The nature of my trip was to give a helping hand to communities most affected by Hurricane Katrina. Despite the events that took place in 2005, the spirit and energy of the Nawlin people continue to shine. It was wonderful to feel the vibrancy of this city first hand.

Everyone in New Orleans wanted to feed me though! You could tell Nawlin folks took pride in their tasty southern dishes. At one point I had a paint brush in my left hand and a spicy shrimp in my right hand – ha! If you ever come to my house, be sure to look through my “Nola Food Diary” which is a compilation of unique dishes I ate on my trip. Food images include as Mac & Cheese pizza, a lobster-shrimp burger, and REAL shrimp jambalaya. 

One of my favourite memories in NOLA HAD to be the night my friend’s and I strolled Frenchmen Street and stumbled upon a Jazz venue called the "Balcony Music Club". Long story short we started a dance off between event – goers and the band!

It went a little something like this:

On that note, I think it would be fitting to invite you all to my upcoming public performance. I will be a featured dancer in the High Society Cabaret’s presentation of “Down In The New Orleans”

High Society Cabaret ~ The Art of Vintage Tease is cabaret show staged in downtown Toronto venues, created by Anna Jaeger and presented by DivaGirl Entertainment and Chic-a-boom Room. High Society Cabaret is inspired by classic vintage burlesque, and incorporates the tease with cabaret style dance. This month, the ladies and I will take you back to the bye-gone era of smoke-filled jazz bars, flashy showgirls, gamblers, riverboats, and the sleepy, sticky heat of New Orleans circa 1930. 

Visit the HSC Facebook & Twitter Pages!

Meet my cast mate Kristen:

Describe your dance style in one word? … She gave 3 – Ha!
“Playful - jazzy” burlesque. 

What do you love most about New Orleans flavour?
I love everything about New Orleans and have grown up listening to jazz music, playing trumpet and travelling across North America in a jazz combo. The best thing we ever did was play at a jazz bar in New Orleans. It was amazing the way the whole town can come together and celebrated! - Such an unreal experience.

What can folks expect from our show November 22nd?
I think the show is really going to bring the audience to a different era especially with such an intimate venue. Everyone will definitely feel like they're at a hot street New Orleans street party!

Meet my cast mate Samantha:

Describe your dance style in one word? 

What do you love most about New Orleans flavour?
The care free and exuberant lifestyle that is everywhere down south!

What can folks expect from our show November 22nd?
 A show full of surprises and excitement that will make you think you've travelled back to Old Time New Orleans!

Then there's ME:

Describe your dance style in one word? 

What do you love most about New Orleans flavour?
The rich culture that exudes in the food, music, and people... therefore, too many things to love!

What can folks expect from our show November 22nd?
 You will be available to view the work of some hard - working & talented females! Each dancer has their own unique style which also adds to the dimension of the show. Furthermore, many of you haven't seen me dance in this style or dance at all for that matter! HA! Well I have two words for you: ADVANCE TICKETS.

Huge shout out to Choreographer and my fellow Cast Mate Kate Knox

Kitten Cast Mates Dana Thody and Jessica Medeiros...

and director Anna Jaeger who will be making a very special appearance that you don’t want to miss… I should mention that Anna is 7 months pregnant… You betta werk !

Event Details:
at Parlour Loung
(270 Adelaide St. W, corner of John St.)

Doors: 6:00pm
Show: 9:00pm
Tickets: $20.00 in advance … don’t be that person that buys at the door – Support Early! ;)

You can purchase tickets online HERE
or visit me in person... 


(Additional cost for a 3 course dinner. www.parlour270.com for details)

To conclude, check out the High Society Video Teaser:

Stay Connected With Me Via:

Twitter: @SimplyShakera
Instagram:  @SimplyShakera
YouTube: Simply Shakera
Email: info@simplyshakera.com

Monday, 4 November 2013

November 4, 2013: "Welcome to the Show"

 I am Shakera Martin.
Simply put, Shakera Martin is: A Child of God. The Daughter of Andrea. Sister of Siobhan and Ryan. Aunty of Sanniyah, Anton, and Matteo. Girlfriend of Jonah. Capricorn. “Fruitful and Flourishing”. 80s Baby. Ryerson Alumni. Leader. Risk-Taker. Observer.

What do I do?
I Perform, I Host, I Model, I Instruct, I Sing, I Smile, I Eat, I Eat, I Eat, I Travel, I Believe.

I Pray.

However I Do Not Write. Writing is one of my least favourite things to do. Essays, Reports, Minutes, Emails... I dislike them all. I am unsure why, but writing makes me uncomfortable and stresses me out. It’s funny because I have mastered the art of typing within 140 characters (via Twitter); yet writing full documents tend to be a struggle. Nonetheless, I enjoy a challenge and I try to step out of my comfort zone as much as possible.

With that said, I intend to write to you, my readers. I invite you to follow my journey as I face the unknown and push myself to live life to the fullest. I will continually share with you through this blog moments in my life that inspire me, that make me smile, and that help me grow. You will specifically be able to identify a focus on three major areas that I am extremely passionate about: (1) Dance (2) Carnival (3) Health & Wellness. Thankfully these three areas often fuse together through my day to day activities.

Dance has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. The sweet sounds of reggae and soul music flooded my household so it was impossible for my body not to react. My mother identified my dance ability and opted to enroll me into classes to develop my craft. As years passed finances changed and I was unable to continue my training. I was still determined to keep dancing! There weren’t free classes’ being offered so I just created my own opportunities. Whether it was through organizing dance groups through school or performing at shows with girls in my housing project – I kept dancing because one of my favourite places to be is on stage. Years later and now me being in my 20s, I have integrated dance into my career endeavours and I couldn’t be happier. Many have questioned my choice based on their opinions of “being a dancer”, and how much money a dancer is suppose to make, and blah blah blah! I usually don’t respond and let my work do the talking. If in your hearts of hearts of you know were given a gift, you are being selfish not to share that gift with the world. I cannot describe that feeling I get when I connect with my audience on stage. Therefore when you believe in yourself, take risks, work hard and have fun– success will come!

Carnival was introduced to me around the age of 7 yrs (I believe) when I participated in “Kiddie Caribana” along Eglinton Avenue West a.k.a Little Jamaica. I had a blast and everyone had loved my dance moves. I even remember being interviewed by City Pulse because I got the news anchor hype! Ha! However, it was during my first year in University where I wore mas as an adult for the first time. Ryerson’s West Indian Association (WISA) was participating in the school’s cultural fashion show. WISA executives Carlene Mack and Akeisha Sookram invited me to wear a costume. Looking back now, I think they set me up! LOL! I’m sure they believed if I put on a costume once then I would never want to take it off; since up until that point, Soca to me only included the song Footsteps by some guy (who I now adore, Machel Montano!) and that song that goes “everybody take a jump, take a jump, take a jump up now”… I was your typical Jamaican pickney! Carnival… no sorry, CARIBANA, was a parade along the lakeshore where my girlfriends and I had the chance to dance and celebrate in the streets… waiting… waiting... and waiting for the THE Jamaican Float to roll on by. Therefore, when I put on that sexy blue costume for the Ryerson fashion show it was SO foreign to me! I even wore the costume with black yoga pants because I was so shy. I can still picture Carlene’s face when she saw the pants; it was as if I broke her Trini little heart (Sorry Ms. Mack) 

The following Caribana was no longer me wearing my short shorts and white tank on the road. Instead, I took the Caribbean Carnival leap of faith and played mas! My first costume is still one of my favourites. I wore a hot pink costume in a section called Cotton Candy with the band Carnival Nationz. The costume was made so well that I have worn it during some of my recent shows. 

My love for Carnival has also led me to work actively with the Caribbean Carnival community. I have consistently been building mas, modeling for different bands, recruiting masqueraders, participating in international carnivals, and contributing to various Caribbean media outlets. All of which had given me the drive to launch my own initiative under the Carnival umbrella. Have you heard of Carnival Spice And Everything Nice?  Well if you haven’t then I need to step my marketing game up. Ha! Carnival Spice is an entertainment service that I created to bring the ultimate carnival experience to special events (birthdays, weddings, live shows etc.). It sets out to educate the community about the culture, provide work for talented artists, and keep Carnival bumpin’ all day, every day. Carnival Spice highlights dancers, models, and make-up artists that showcase the beautiful colors, energy, and vibes of the islands.

This last area of discussion is very important to me and can be defined in two parts: Health (the state of being free from illness or injury) and Wellness (an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life). In a nutshell, when one is healthy and well, they tend to be stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually. I went as far as attending university to further study and greater support the health and safety of individuals in my life. This area was first introduced to me when my mom suffered from a work –related injury that permanently affects her body. The injury was hard to accept primarily because I knew it was avoidable. Stress is a killer and can greatly hinder our lives more than we can possibly imagine. Since graduating from Ryerson U with an applied science degree in Occupational Health and Safety I’ve aimed to promote the relationship between health, wellness and dance! This process is not easy and will continue to take time but like I said earlier, I am always up for a challenge!

“Welcome to the Show” indeed folks! I always feel like a camera should follow me sometimes because the most incredible experiences seem to happen to me on many occasions – God blessed pickney indeed! Within my blog posts you will also meet amazing people in my life that have similar passions plus I will share my very own successes as they occur in hopes of inspiring you to go against the grain and do what you love!

For now check out some of my most recent work that I would like highlight:


The October featured article I wrote for Eligible Magazine titled: “Carnival Spice Up Your Life”

Click HERE to view the article


So happy that my choreography was featured at the Canadian Urban Music Conference. The event was hosted this year at the lovely Spoke Club. 

Look out for a video clip of the entire performance showcase featuring De'arte The Artist - one of the top Electronika artists in Toronto. It's been a while since I presented a hip-hop piece...Too much soca on the brain I guess! In case you're wondering, this photo is a digital snapshot from the performance

Myself and also Carnival Spice & Everything Nice were featured in American Magazine Rhythmic Lounge:

Click HERE to view the article - Specifically Page 42/43

The 2013 Newsapalooza - Media Battle Of The Bands: I kicked off November dancing back-up for Paula Griffith and the Confidential Sources. Our performance was competing on behalf of the Toronto Star in this annual competition. The event raised a whopping $7,000 for the Children's Aid Foundation.

 Health and Wellness 

I would like to announce that I will be a Speaker at the 2014 Diva Girl Conference!

The Diva Girl Conference will be will be a full day of fun, flirty & educational classes, workshops, seminars and local vendors, to help you unleash your sexy within by focusing on the areas of dance, fitness, nutrition, wellness and self-esteem.

Stay Connected Via:

Twitter: @SimplyShakera
Instagram:  @SimplyShakera
YouTube: Simply Shakera
Email: info@simplyshakera.com