Tessandra Chavez Brings Unity LA Back to the Spotlight on 'World of Dance'
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Unity LA made a big statement in The Qualifiers on World of Dance a few weeks ago. Their score of 95.3 set them up as one of the hottest acts to watch in Season 3 of the reality competition show.
Last week, the group, along with Rudy Abreu's Radiance, performed at Girls Athletic Leadership School in Panorama City, California. The middle school empowers girls to thrive in all areas of their lives from academics to leadership and physical wellness — everything that World of Dance stands for.
Dance Dish had the opportunity to speak with Unity LA's founder and Emmy Award-winning choreographer Tessandra Chavez, who is well-versed in World of Dance on and off-camera. She was one of the show's supervising choreographers in Season 1, she choreographed for Upper Division act Zack & Ashley in Season 2 and now she has her team — which includes Zack Everhart and Ashley Gonzalez — in Season 3.
Dance Dish: What made you realize the time was right to bring Unity LA to World of Dance?
Tessandra Chavez: I've been in the business since 2004, I've worked for a lot of people. I've done a lot of things. I've lived a lot of my dreams, but my roots are in creating work on dancers who are true pros and who have an infinite amount of possibilities skill-wise. When I'm working in the industry, sometimes I can be limited in what I am creating because I have guidelines from executive producers, which I love because that pushes another side of my brain. But with my company, I am fully free creatively.
DD: Did working on the show in several capacities give you an edge in competing on World of Dance?
Tessandra: I will be honest, I think it helped me in minor ways, but I don't think it truly, truly helped because, at the end of the day, those three judges call the shots on what they are feeling. I know as much as any viewer knows, which is the structure of the show and how acts are eliminated. As a supervising choreographer, I know you need "wow" moments to create an amazing piece and I know you need a narrative. But I would know that not working on the show because I am a pro in the business, so I don't think that working on the show gave me an edge.
DD: Post-World of Dance, what are your goals for Unity LA?
Tessandra: The vision was to utilize this great opportunity and platform to launch us into a more commercial household name. I always say my childhood dream when I was 11 was to establish the commercial version of Alvin Ailey, so I want to have a dance company that entertains everyone. I want them to entertain children to dads who don't dance to dancers to experts to artists. I want to entertain the masses and inspire them.
DD: Besides Zack & Ashley, you have another Season 2 act that works with Unity LA. Will Sean & Kaycee be working with Unity LA moving forward?
Tessandra: Sean & Kaycee work with me a lot. They are at my house sometimes hanging out. They have the greatest parents who hold them accountable, keep them in line, are in charge of their schedules and remind them about being kind in this crazy world. They are amazing. I work with them a lot and they are training with my company as well.
DD: The GALS LA students loved your performance. What do you think the Unity LA dancers got out of performing in front of the GALS LA audience?
Tessandra: I think they were reminded about being young, having a dream and having someone else inspire them. They can all rewind the clock and be that age and remember seeing another dancer who made them dream big and want to do this as a profession. What would be cool is that if one person sitting there today decides, I want to be a choreographer or Tessandra started her company when she was 15, I could do that one day. Or I want to be like Ashley, I can dance like her if I work hard. Anything is possible. It's never too late.
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