Romeo Casellas [Interview]
Vancouver, B.C. – Romeo Casellas has got some serious moves. In his transition from dancer to choreographer, he’s been under the tutelage of Luther Brown, “the godfather of Canadian choreography.” Romeo has done awards shows and music videos with half the industry, and recently started up his own company Romeo ENT: he was visiting Vancouver on a recent mission when HipHopCanada caught up with him at Harbour Dance Centre.
HipHopCanada: How long have you been doing this?
Romeo Casellas: I was dancing for a long time before I started choreographing. I can say I’ve been choreographing for about 2 years now, people know who I am now. Before it was Romeo the dancer and now people know that I choreograph. You gotta start out as a student, and I’m honored to have been under the tutelage of Luther Brown. Being under him, and just watching him and learning from him as he developed me into a dancer has caused me to emulate him. When it came to choreography time, I just remember how Luther used to vibe and how he made things up.
HipHopCanada:What’s your studio style?
Romeo Casellas: I’m weird when I’m in the studio, I don’t sleep – my business motto is that true entertainment doesn’t sleep – so I’m always thinking, “what’s next, what can I do with this?”
HipHopCanada: What’s been one of your most memorable experiences in the dance industry?
Romeo Casellas: I was privileged enough to work with Nelly Furtado. We did the awards show in front of my home crowd in Toronto, my son got to see me, and plus she’s Canadian. That was big because to dancers, an awards show is like the Grammys. We love awards shows. There’s no time to mess up, it’s live.
HipHopCanada: How long does it take you to choreograph a music video?
Romeo Casellas: I could live in the studio, I could stay there morning till morning. But every day I’m in the studio I make things up right there on the spot. I’m not at home going, “5,6,7,8,” I wait till I’m in the studio. Some people might look at that as not being prepared, but that’s how I get into my zone. Some basketball players shoot freethrows for hours before the game, and some just show up ready to play. I’m not trying to say I’m cocky like that, it’s just how I get into my zone. And I remember working with Luther, we’d be in the studio and he’d just press play and would just be standing there and then would just do something. So I picked up on that, and it just comes to my head and I see things coming. On video sets you’re not really dancing a whole video nowadays, so I just kill the chorus, kill the verse, kill 2 hooks. We did the Rihanna video set for Pon De Replay and it was an all-day shoot. Sean-Paul was, like, 34 hours.
HipHopCanada: What inspires your choreography?
Romeo Casellas: I feed off of my dancers. If the dancers and the artist can move wicked, then I can experiment, if they can flip then we can work that in. It helps when you’re working with hungry dancers.
HipHopCanada: What difference in dance styles have you noticed between Toronto and Vancouver?
Romeo Casellas: The major difference would be Vancouver dancers are very LA-ish. They milk a lot, they’re smooth. And they do a lot of sharp cut moves. But the east coast, we really dance on that hard-hitting type of swag, that smooth groove, that gansta flow. We milk as well, but I got mad love for the Vancouver dancers, but being so close to LA they emulate a lot of that new style type of hit-cut-cut-hit-hit-and-smooth.
HipHopCanada: Where do you see yourself going with your new business?
Romeo Casellas: Up. I started my company Romeo ENT choreographing Danny Fernandez’ “Addicted” video which placed number one and won an award and that was my first video, by myself, me doing it from top to bottom choreographing. So with that being out there, I shot my demo reel and it’s been getting a lot of love. I got hit up by MC Hammer himself, telling me that the video was amazing and we need to work one day. Now that I’ve started I just want to get the word out there that I’m coming and I wanna be a choreographer now, in the background, cause I have a vision and I want everybody to see that vision. I love dancing but now, like an artist stands back when he paints a picture to watch it, if I’m dancing I can’t see the mistakes or what needs to be fixed. I want the company to take off, I want the labels to take notice I want film companies to take notice, TV, commercials. I just want to take Romeo ENT to that other level. Canada crossing the border, going to Europe, going to Asia, I want everybody to know that I have a vision and the vision’s not bad.
Follow Romeo Casellas on Twitter @RomeoCEO
Written by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada