Question: What originally inspired you passion for dancing?
Deon Nuku: I think I was around ten years old when I first saw the moonwalk on a children's news television show and that sparked my passion, my path. Following that, the breakdancing craze hit and I was taken aback by it – it consumed me! Breakdancing really started it all, for me, as I ended up in a breakdancing crew, for many years.
Question: What was next, in terms of dance?
Deon Nuku: I kept dancing with the breakdancing crew and was in a video clip for a band; the owner of the band had a dance school which offered ballet and jazz classes, I took him up on the classes and the other side of dance, took off. I haven't looked back. I tried, I loved it and I haven't stopped, since.
Question: How did you take the step from dancing to teaching dance?
Deon Nuku: Teaching was something I always did because I had taught myself to dance, teaching was a natural progression. I would see something, learn it and then pass it on, whether that was to myself or to others. Prior to starting at the dance school, I had a group of friends that I'd always making up choreography with, all the time; we had a regular spot at an under-aged dance pub in Forest Hill (laughs), each week we'd put on a different show or routine until I was 18 years old.
I had always made up routines and then taught the choreography to friends, it was definitely natural progression.
Question: Where has been your favourite place to perform/dance?
Deon Nuku: I'd have to say Moulin Rouge, the movie, that was a stand out. I also toured in London for quite a while with Will Young who won Pop Idol; it was a highlight to tour London with my friends.
Question: Can you tell us about your involvement in Moulin Rouge?
Deon Nuku: In Moulin Rouge there was a core group of females and a core group of males in the film and we worked on the project for six months, on and off, filming a variety of scenes. The film was shot in Sydney so we were continually flown back and forth to Sydney from Melbourne to film; often we'd be shooting for days and we'd stay in Sydney.
Question: Where do you find inspiration when creating choreography?
Deon Nuku: That's a good question! For me, I listen to the music over and over and over again, sometimes before I even do one step and then, I know this sounds weird, but I feel as if the music tells me what to do, in a way. The music explains a movement, to me. If I listen to something enough then I start to create a language for myself and from that I create moves that correlate to what I'm hearing, the language I'm hearing. Everyone hears music differently, when I listen I hear how and when to move.
Question: How do you choose the music to dance to? Do you have a favourite artist?
Deon Nuku: It's a strange thing – music moves everyone, differently – but the song has to move me; I can try to choreograph to a particular song and nothing happens, nothing comes, my brain does not move and I'll have to try another track. Sometimes I'll hear a song and will have eight counts of eight, in 30 minutes. I have to connect to the song, on some level for it to work.
On bigger jobs, I may be given a song and I just have to make it work which is very challenging especially when you can't change the music and I just have to hope it will happen – sometimes the choreography just happens and other times you really have to work at it.
I've heard people describe songwriting as a flow and other times it takes weeks to write a song, that's the same process with creating and dance
Question: How do you work on big project to ensure all the choreography comes together?
Deon Nuku: A lot of planning (laughs)! A lot of planning happens before you even begin teaching the choreography – I write down moves and chart the sequence; it needs to be on paper before you begin teaching. With Victorian State Schools Spectacular I put together a DVD for the students to follow, when I'm not there – as we only get to rehearse in four rounds.
It's all about planning, when working in big groups, this ensures each group knows what they are doing, where they are standing and facing and what counts they are on – it's a big jigsaw puzzle! Again, with the Victorian State Schools Spectacular we work with students for six months but only have one day in the Arena to put the choreography together, as a group prior to running the show, the next day! I just hope that all the pieces, in this jigsaw puzzle fit right (laughs)!
Question: Can you tell us about your other current projects?
Deon Nuku: There are lots! I have worked with a couple on Dancing with the Stars in the past and a lot of bits of pieces. I currently work with Indigenous Hip Hop Projects (IHHP), I create their choreography. I work with Outer Urban Projects weekly to create, for them. Every night of the week I am at difference dance schools, teaching – I am always dancing!
I am constantly dancing, which I love. In this industry one week you'll have nothing and the next week you'll have the most amazing jobs and the week after that you've got a dance class of five people or you're on a freestyle podium, at a club – it is one extreme to the other.
I've been very lucky, there hasn't been a lot of downtime in my dance career, I've always had dance schools to teach at, and teaching has kept me afloat. I know it's a hard industry and I teach my students that they have to put in the hard work, when it doesn't matter, like in studio classes because when you leave it's hard work whether that's finding motivation or having continuous knock-backs.
Deon Nuku - Dance Director (Victorian State Schools Spectacular)
Deon has worked as a dancer and actor in film, television and theatre. His theatre credits include West Side Story, Fame, Footloose and Saturday Night Fever.
He has worked with international artists such as Macy Gray and Kylie Minogue. Deon's television credits include the ARIA music awards, X-Factor (UKTV), Hey Hey It's Saturday, Australian Film Industry Awards, The Good Friday Appeal, The Logie Awards, Fast Forward and Neighbours.
He was a featured dancer in the films Moulin Rouge and Scooby Doo. Deon is a member of the Wickid Force breakdance team, Australia's leading breakdance champions.