A Conversation with Choreographer/Director Tyce Diorio

The amazing insights I have gained along my performing arts path as a dancer and choreographer have inspired this blog.  From dealing with rejection to finding the courage to create, there are many lessons on this beautiful journey.  As I share my own stories, I have decided to find out how others have handled the ups and downs of the business.  From the famous and successful, to the quiet artists who are not so known, we all have stories to share.  My first questions are for American Choreographer/Director Tyce Diorio.

Tyce is best known for his work as a guest judge on the FOX television series So You Think You Can Dance.  He has choreographed and performed for Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, and Taylor Swift, as well as numerous projects for film, television and Broadway.             

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tyce as a fellow dancer and assistant to him on So You Think You Can Dance, and other projects.  Always inspired by his creative process and equally impressed by him as a person, I wanted to know more about his inner process and how he finds balance in this vulnerable and changing business.      

TNH: As a dancer, what inspired you to move into choreography?

TD:  As a dancer, I was always in love with the process of being in the studio, the creating process with a choreographer.  It thrilled me to make their vision/dreams come true through my movement in their work. I lived and breathed for the choreographer to be inspired by my talent.  That’s all I needed to fill my soul to the highest degree. I didn’t even need money. :)  

Then the transition of dancer to choreographer happened naturally for me with the start of SYTYCD.  I received a call from the producers asking if I could do a Fosse piece and I was in CHICAGO THE MUSICAL at the time so it was a perfect fit.  I knew the work very well.

TNH: Do you read reviews or listen to feedback of your work?  If so, how do separate the courage to create from the fear of how your work is received?

TD:  I have read reviews and listened to the response/feedback of my work.  Yes, it can be a scary, fearful position to be in.  However, over time I have managed to gain perspective of it all after realizing "its not everything". 

And that comes with some experience and thick skin.  I think we will always be vulnerable to reviews and feedback.  But, I won’t let that bring me down or let it keep my head in the clouds, if that makes sense.  I’ll stay right in the middle.  I find for me, not having too much attachment to much outside of myself & my work/worth is the best for me.  I don’t ignore it.  I listen and take it all in but can measure the meter of what to keep, and what not to keep.

TNH:  Where do you find inspiration?

TD:  I find inspiration in life in general... travel, music, art, paintings, museums, films, everyday people, conversations, meditation, just living life away from dance and the business.  And of course, other great artists.

TNH: What do you love about choreographing on SYTYCD?

TD:  What I love about choreographing on SYTYCD is I am surrounded by other wonderful choreographers and dancers to create on.  We are given lots of freedom to express ourselves. It allows us to bring forth the vision of our work as a director, from the music editing, costuming, lighting, props, etc.  So that is always exciting.  And we work with the best people in their field on the show to make it happen.  Not to mention, it's a show that celebrates dance in highest level form.

TNH:  From my experience working with you, you follow your creative instincts.  How did you develop that inner trust?

TD:  I can be very trusting of myself and then NOT!  But I think having such a time constraint with working in television you must make bold, smart choices quickly and so maybe I have learned that in some way through experience....but it's not always there, I’ll tell you.  And working with artists such as Taylor Swift, I have learned to be clear and trust myself more and more.  It’s a never ending process.  It comes and goes for me. ;)

TNH:  There can be ups and downs, rejection and disregard in the entertainment business.  What tools have you developed to keep your confidence and belief in yourself?

TD:  I have always felt drawn to purity/excellence in people I work with.  And with that comes more sincerity and truth in the work.  I stay connected to what I feel in my being and I’ve never felt I’ve gone wrong with making that my guide.  I have always done what I love and walked away from what didn’t feel right, and my path just revealed itself to me easily.  The only thing I knew I could count on was me and my talent as a dancer... and the relationships I created and kept.  Outside of that there was nothing I could control as a person who auditioned, and we as people who have done that for so long, we walk into those audition rooms all the time with those questions "am I good enough?”, “do you like me?”,  “am I what you’re looking for?” and on and on.... So for that, it can be tough and you need thick skin with the ability to handle the process gracefully with ease.  So, I say enjoy the journey so you don’t become a tortured artist. 

TNH:  Do you have any other thoughts or reflections to share?

TD:  The other thing I have kept and used as a tool is understanding rejection and what people call failure.  I say, let it all in and look at the "not so great" moments clearly so you can understand where things lie on the playing field.  Failure is important to recognize and embrace.  And even with that, nothing really is failure if you have the tools to stay with your craft in this business with the inner strength to keep going when all looks and seems unclear.

Thank you, Tyce, for sharing with me.  And thank you to those who have visited this page.  For more inspiring Dance and Choreographer interviews, subscribe to my monthly newsletter below!  And share with those who might be inspired by this.