Justine Gera’s once-upon-a-time has always included dance. Growing up in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada, the young professional knew dancing was what she wanted to do from a very young age.
Many dancers’ stories begin this way but Gera’s drive, versatility and talent have led to exceptional opportunities and a future that looks very bright. She has twice been a representative in the Performing Arts B.C. Provincial festival, been a principal dancer in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Opening Ceremony alongside pop artist Fefe Dobson and received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
One of the highlights of her career has been performing in the song “Rhythm Nation” during Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable world tour in Vancouver. Gera was selected from a group of dancers by choreographer Gil Duldualo in a whirlwind day of audition and rehearsal.
“The rehearsal was intense and I think everyone was just really thankful to be there. One my biggest inspirations, Kelly Konno is well-known for dancing in many of Janet’s tours and videos and is a good friend of Janet herself. It was really rewarding for me to have Kelly in the audience for the performance,” recalls Gera.
Konno, who has also toured all over the world with artists Prince and Justin Timberlake, has extensive film and television choreography credits and is the co-owner of Canada’s largest dance convention, describes Gera as one of the most hungry, driven, passionate and talented dancers she’s seen in a long time.
“Her unique sense of style, ability to morph into any routine that is thrown at her, professional work ethic and versatility,” says Konno, “will have her in demand as a professional dancer for years to come.”
These abilities have secured Gera’s role as a convention assistant to world class choreographers like Tyce Diorio, Napoleon & Tabitha D’umo, Sean Cheeseman, Tina Landon and Luther Brown for six years. Gera is considered one of Triple Threat Dance Convention’s greatest assistants.
“We look for dancers who are not only at the top of their craft,” says Triple Threat director, Dorie Konno-Lazaroff, “but who are committed to all of the behind the scenes work as well. Justine takes pride in all of her work.”
Among her endeavors is the exciting experience of being a featured dancer on cruise ships, most recently the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Carribean’s largest and newest vessel. It is in this specialized industry that Gera can put her skills as a singer, actor and dancer, or “triple threat,” as these talented individuals are known in the business, most to use. Still, the work is often grueling and the repetitive nature of performances can take a toll on the body.
According to Gera, her strong sense of work ethic is instilled by her parents.
“They’ve taught me hard work will pay off. They are both hard workers in their jobs and I have learned a lot from them,” she affirms.
It is their support that inspires Gera to keep going after what she wants and what makes her happy. What makes her happiest is dance, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Gera from pursuing other interests and goals, particularly in fashion and design. For a year, she studied at Canada’s premier fashion school, Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver, where she learned enough ins and outs of the industry to begin some fashion styling in her spare time.
It’s all part of Gera’s unique narrative – one that hasn’t been without its ups and downs.
“There have been many times when I have thought about my dancing career and felt that I wasn’t good enough or talented enough to ‘make it,'” explains Gera.
According to Gera, dancing offers the release of putting all one’s emotions into something bigger, providing relief from both daily and circumstantial pressures.
“Dance has definitely helped me through a lot of personal things in my life,” she says.
The ability to channel experience into her dancing has served Gera well.
“She truly is one of the most exquisite and extraordinary dancers we have seen over the 18 years traveling across Canada,” says Triple Threat Dance Convention co-director, Carolina Lancaster-Castellino.
For Gera, however, it’s fulfilling to share something of herself and her dancing with others.
“The most rewarding part about being a dancer,” she shares, “is having the ability to create what you want and tell your own story through what you create.”