Tag Archives: performer

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DREAMING BY DESIGN

So last weekend I ate lots of food, saw tons of relatives, and reflected on things that have happened for me between Thanksgiving 2013 and Thanksgiving 2014.

Like 2 super-exciting gigs, for example. I got to escape winter by singing in Dubai for 6 months, then I came home for the summer and filmed my first movie role playing the young Missy Elliott in Lifetime’s Aaliyah: Princess of R&B.

Of course there’s a silver lining in every cloud and a cloud for every silver lining. The Dubai experience was awesome, but being away from family and friends for that long can be tough. Playing the part of a pop culture icon in this major project is my biggest booking so far, but it didn’t come without a certain amount of . . . let’s call it . . . character-building.  =)

Now this post isn’t going to count, characterize or rehash any negative comments from the world of social media. (Although I offer a sincere “Thank You” to all those who took the time to send me encouraging messages; more than I expected! Bless up.) Nope, I’m writing this to share something that helped me keep my head up when it would have been easier to get angry or defensive or sad.

Let’s take it back to high school for a minute. As a tenth-grader at Thornhill Secondary, I had my first taste of graphic design in a course which I think was called Computer Sciences, and one project really stuck with me. Our teacher instructed each of us to Photoshop our face onto the cover of a popular magazine.

I loved the idea, and I scanned a hard copy of VIBE that I’d bought on a recent trip to the States (it was hard to find in Canada at the time).

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I’d never heard of a vision board or a dream board back then, but I kept a copy of this assignment. And I almost forgot about it until years later when the “controversy” arose about me portraying Missy Elliott. You cannot imagine how encouraging it was to find that 12-year-old piece of paper and hold it in my hand. It taught me 3 really important lessons.

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1. THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS

Me designing this made-up cover, and keeping it, was my way of saying to God and the universe (long before I learned about the law of intention or self-fulfilling prophecies or anything like that) that I wanted fame and fortune and photographers. I still want to be a cover girl; I would love to do so in the world of music, but if it comes about through acting or some other form of expression, I’m fine with that as well. This taught me that making and using vision/dream boards is incredibly powerful as long as you’re putting the work in too. Mind what you wish for, because if you think it enough times, you’ll end up with it somehow.

 

2. NEVER GIVE UP

Notice, the time lapse between my magazine assignment and the headlines for this casting was 12 years. I originally thought I’d have a record deal around the time I finished high school — HA! It would have been so easy for me to trash this printout when I realized I was headed to university instead of being the next teen pop music queen, or any of the times I auditioned/applied/submitted for a role/gig/deal and didn’t get it. Now I understand that years or even decades can go by, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get what you’re going for. It might just mean you haven’t grown enough, or learned enough, or sacrificed enough yet.

Let’s say you set your ultimate goal 20 years ago and you’re not there yet. I don’t know when you’ll make it, but if you give up, I know you won’t ever make it. And it might be right around the corner. So keep going.

 

3. GOD HAS A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOUR

To be honest, my choosing that cover was a matter of convenience; it had nothing to do with Missy herself. Of course I’m a longtime fan; the woman is a legend! But it ended up as my backdrop simply because we were told to choose our favourite magazine (mine was definitely VIBE) and that was the hard copy I had to scan. Of course, the funny plot twist is that I went from replacing Missy’s face with my own to being the face of Missy in the movie. So the timeline looks like this:

June 2002 – I declare “I’m going to be on the cover of VIBE one day” by inserting my face onto VIBE’s cover and changing up the headlines to reflect my own interests and wishes.

Summer 2009 – VIBE goes out of print. I mope about my lost opportunity. Even the magazine’s later resurrection and reincarnations don’t make me feel much better. I sulk, but I keep working (duh).

June 2014 – I audition for and land the role of Missy Elliott in Lifetime’s biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, and I keep an eye on social media as people speculate about the movie and about who will be playing the lead role. The majority of what I read confirms my suspicion that the public will be vocal about any casting choices they don’t like.

August 2014 – BlackFilm.com publishes a piece about the movie’s cast, announcing that I’m playing Missy. Figuring the cat’s out of the bag, I confirm via Facebook (where a bunch of people who know me are full of congratulations) and Twitter (where a bunch of people who don’t know me are full of something else). Remembering my 2002 DIY mag cover, I remind myself that I earned this role and that my job is to get up, dress up, show up, and play the part. I have an incredible time, working with amazing people — love and respect to Izaak, Alex, AJ, James, Brad, Etheline, Rose, Chris, Gisele, Joe, Michelle, Fast Eddie, and every single member of the cast and crew for making this experience as awesome as it was!

November 2014 – the movie comes out, and a new chapter begins.

 

I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll have to be grateful for by next Thanksgiving.

xoxo

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10 WINS FROM MY STAY IN DUBAI

 

June already! I’m almost back on Canadian soil (editing and posting this from inside an airport terminal actually), after spending half a year abroad. For this edition of Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten awesome memories and/or accomplishments from this stay in Dubai . . .

 

1.  So much writing.

Beginning on Christmas Day 2013, I promised I would write every day. Even a single sentence, or a few words; some days this meant an entire song or three, and some days it meant several scenes of a TV episode. Sometime in April or May I got a little more strict with myself, so now I have to write a snippet or piece of a song, or a song idea, every day. Even on days when I’ve completed a song. Even on days when I’m totally focused on a script and don’t want to think about writing a song.

IMG_0726So, the final tally? 52 new songs and 3 new episodes of the series I’m working on. Plus, I’ve got about 11 pages of ideas to dip into the next time I think “now what can I write a song about?” Not bad at all.

 

2.  So much sun.

What do you when it’s 50 degrees warmer where you are than it is back at home? You go to the beach.

Feb 5 2014.027It’s not like I was out there every day, but I definitely took advantage of my winter and spring in the desert — and I’ve got the tan to prove it!

 

3.  So much singing.

Being onstage six nights a week and singing so many genres (pop, reggae, rock, country, soul, Motown, blues, calypso, jazz) is awesome training. Doing so without lyrics in front of you is great for your memorization skills. Doing so in heels has left my feet considerably uglier than they were six months ago . . . ah well, you can’t win em all.

DSC08154Shoutouts to my incredible bandmates Jo (keys) and Julian (guitar), for allowing me to experience the awesomeness that is playing with live musicians — and alllllll the hilarity that goes along with it!

 

4.  Friends from every corner of the globe.

Maybe not every single corner . . . but I now have people to welcome me in Italy, South Africa, Indonesia, Sweden, all over the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, the Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and of course here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And as eager as I am to get back home and hug all my people in Canada and the United States, it feels good to know that friendship transcends borders.

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IMG_0110Of course I look forward to welcoming any of my new friends if and when they find themselves in Toronto, too!

 

5.  Fly boarding.

Hands-down the coolest single activity I’ve done since leaving home.

flyboard10You can watch the video here (in fact, go do it right now) and I really hope I get the opportunity to do this again one day . . . Does anyone offer it in southwestern Ontario yet?

 

6.  Loving on nature.

At home I can jog along Lake Ontario, and I’m frequently amused by the friendly (well, probably just hungry) squirrels in my neighbourhood, and there are some nice views of the sunset from my building before it’s hidden by condos.  In Dubai, I’ve been bathing in the Gulf of Arabia, taking pictures of flowers and sandscapes and water views, and loving the sight (though not always the sound) of tons of birds — including obnoxious crows and shrill peacocks.

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10am in Toronto, and 6pm in Dubai

 

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There are some really cool manmade wonders out there, obviously, but it’s also been really nice to just look at a seashell or a cliff and enjoy that.

 

7.  Opportunities.

I’ll do my best to explain this clearly and without offending anyone.

Opportunities are everywhere, and so are opportunity-seekers and opportunity-creators. But it seems to me that there is a greater sense of possibility in Dubai than at home; and it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with attitude. Both Toronto and Dubai are big, bustling cities with international populations and people at different socioeconomic levels . . . but they differ when it comes to the ratio of whiners to risk-takers. At home, I find a lot of people who feel that they’re stuck in a rut. In Dubai, I find a lot of people who are hustling, who are keeping it moving, who are creating some type of change instead of just complaining.

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old "Rpince Pavel," a future world tennis champion from Poland

Example: my friend Davide Giusti (grey shirt), tennis coach extraordinaire who is opening his own academy in Dubai, and 15-year-old “Prince Pavel,” a future world tennis champion from Poland

This is probably because roughly 80% of the people there are expats (not local to the area, they were born somewhere else), so they’ve already taken the step of leaving home, their physical comfort zone. Granted, many of the people I met were on vacation, but when I did meet someone who’a planning to stay for awhile I tended to notice a quiet confidence and certainty that they’ll be able to do what they came here to do. And if not then they can go somewhere else and try again. It’s all good.

 

8.  Truly cherishing interaction with people from back home.

It will be such a treat to sit down and have a meal with family and friends again. Even if I don’t like the food, I have to sit on the floor, and no one says a single word for the duration of the meal.

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

See these two? They will be smothered with hugs very shortly . . .

I knew homesickness would be an issue for me; I’m glad that I came through without getting too emotional (for the most part), and I now fully understand what a musician friend of mine meant when he told me staying away for a month wasn’t enough; he wanted to be gone for long enough that he missed being home.

 

9.  Exploring.

I’ll have to make sure I do this in Toronto/Ontario/Canada too! One of the best things about travelling is getting to know a new place. I don’t mean just the people and customs and laws, I mean the physical place. When you’re new to the UAE, you ask a lot of questions like “Why isn’t there any parking?” and “Can I take the Metro?” and some more unique ones too, like “Why isn’t there a street address?”

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

The huge sigh of relief when you finally somehow get to the place you were hoping to find . . .

I’m very grateful to anyone who has ever printed and distributed a clearly marked map, and for numerous online forums where expats and travellers share tips. I’m also newly in love with Groupon (and similar sites like Kobonaty) for offering great deals in the area, making it that much easier to get out there and try a desert safari, or flyboarding, or a double-massage deal.

 

10. Discovering and developing new talents.

I’ve dusted off my photographer, videographer, and video editor hats, in addition to writing new episodes as mentioned above. I decided to share some of my insights in a 30-day art installation project via Instagram and Facebook/Twitter . . . (stay tuned to my YouTube channel for a video recap of that, plus a video recap of the whole Dubai trip) . . . and being genuinely touched and surprised by a bandmate’s comment that I’m “so visual,” I’ve been creating collages (as seen all over this blog) that are way better than those Instathings, and I even came up with my phoenix/mermaid photoshoot out of thin air.

collages.056Plus, I commissioned two newly designed dresses and had them made at a local tailor’s (and blogged all about it), and I’m really loving finding new ways to express myself visually!

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So what’s next for me? A Top Ten Tuesday blog featuring the 10 best things about being back home?

Nah, too predictable.

See you next time ;-)

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Dubai recap – two months left!

Well hi!

130 days in Dubai … has everyone back home forgotten about me yet?  Haha!

With two more months til hometime, here are a few updates for the curious …

 

IMG_0144Our shows continue to go well, especially on Friday nights when we get to perform outside on the beach.  Here’s a clip from two Fridays ago – hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you soon!

instatrisseI now have an Instagram account, and I post new pics and/or videos every day, so you can peek in on the highs and lows of my #Dubailife =) Just follow @chattrisse

jan 30 2014Coming up next, I have my sights set on the Caribbean!  There is an incredible opportunity to spend July and August on the beautiful island of Tobago, and now that my video and bio are in, I need your help to get me there.  I’d be so grateful if you could take the time to “Like” the 60 Days in Paradise Facebook page and leave a comment about why Chattrisse Dolabaille should be the first-ever Island Connoisseur, and/or do the same thing on Twitter by mentioning @60daysparadise and @chattrisse and using the hashtag #60days … the Top Ten finalists will be announced on April 21st, and if I’m one of them I’ll need all the votes I can get to land the gig!

flyboard10Some of the experiences I’ve enjoyed here so far are camel riding, fly boarding (now that was a thrill), some shopping, lots of tanning, and even more peacock-watching.  Last week I posted ten more things that are on my to-do list … so far I’ve completed #9, booked #4 and #6, picked a tentative date for #2 and #5, and I hope to get #7 done this month as well …  stay tuned!

DSC07672And last but not least, I set a personal goal to write 50 new songs during this Dubai sojourn of mine; as of yesterday, I’m up to 37, planning to blow that goal out of the water.  Will I end up with 55?  60?  Time will tell …

 

All in all, I’m excited to go home, but I’m glad it isn’t time to go just yet.  Til next time!

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Chattrisse Dolabaille – #60days Bio

Oh goshhhhhh that was a lot to fit into one 30-second video!  Thanks for checking out my bio here, and getting to know me a little bit better.

At the moment I’m stationed in Dubai, singing at a resort and meeting people from all over the world and LOVING that I found a way to escape winter! :D

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I’d say I’ve been able to travel quite a bit in my lifetime … not as much as I’d like to (haha), but certainly more than the average person … and when folks back home ask for pics/video or some other way to experience the journey vicariously through me, I take the request seriously.  This is even more true since one of my little cousins has health issues which prevent her from flying.  The ability to get on a plane is a blessing I don’t take for granted, and I bring my camera everywhere I travel — even if it’s just to London, Ontario!

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Both of my parents were born in the Caribbean and grew up in Toronto; Mom is Jamaican and Dad is Trinidadian.  This has given me a unique perspective on some of the differences between countries and cultures.  As you might expect from a Caribbean-Canadian, I love roti and jerk chicken and poutine and hot weather and (most) reggae and (almost all) soca and Caribana (it’s so hard to remember to say “Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival” every time, lol).  In fact, being the Island Connoisseur would mean I am not playing mas in Toronto for the first time since 2004 … but I’m sure I can get over it … ;-)

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Keeping it all in the family is another reason I’d love to be in Tobago this summer: my dad’s big family reunion, which I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to attend, is in Tobago this July — how perfect would that be?!

3 generations from "Papa Guhn" ... Pedro Segundo Dolabaille's son, grandsons and great-granddaughter

3 generations from “Papa Guhn” … Pedro Segundo Dolabaille’s son, grandsons and great-granddaughter

Not that it’s all fun and games.  You want your Island Connoisseur to be someone who takes a great deal of care with what they’re doing and how they represent themselves; kind of like being an international diplomat, but one who can wear flip-flops to work.  You can view my online resume here for onscreen testimonials from professionals I’ve worked with over the years, and of course I encourage you to check out the rest of my blog, my YouTube channel, my Facebook fan page, my Twitter account, and my Instagram account too.

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On that note, I’ll quickly mention that no copyrights have been infringed or compromised in the making of my official submission video; the music you hear in the background is one of my own songs, and I created the mixed-flag graphic using Keynote.  Of course, the pictures and videos and voiceovers are my own property.  To respect the privacy of people tagged in my photos, if you’d like to see more pictures from previous trips that are not on my public Facebook fan page, please contact me directly.

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Sun and sand and sky and sea … Tobago’s calling, please send me!

 

Thanks so much, and may the best Island Connoisseur win!

 

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Dubai recap – 2 months in and still going strong …

Before this stint in the Middle East, the longest I had ever been away from home was about 7 weeks, when I interned in Washington, DC.  (Shoutout to everyone from BET’s main campus!) So one thing I was excited to experience was being away from home for a long time. Anything over 3 or 4 months, with no visits back home, is long to me.

Now it’s been 2 months since I left Toronto (flew out on November 27th), and I can honestly say the time is going by faster than I thought it would. Working 6 nights a week is probably one of the reasons why. In Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple one of the characters says “Time moves slowly, but passes quickly” and that is so true – sometimes I’m in the middle of a set thinking “How is it that only 16 minutes of this set have passed and there are still THREE MORE SETS to go before bedtime?!?”

And yet, when I look back through my photos and videos, I’m reminded that I’ve been making good use of the time here. So let’s get you caught up a bit …

DSC07297Ah, the lovely White Orchid Lounge! This has been our show venue since we arrived and in less than a week we will be moving to a different stage here on the resort. I wish we could take all the White Orchid staff with us because they’re so fantastic … fingers crossed, we might get to bring one or two of them … and although I know I’ll miss the children who come dance to our music and the view from the balcony overlooking the pool, I’m looking forward to our new venue too. For one thing, my “commute” will be much shorter … instead of a 3-minute walk, it’ll be a 30-second elevator ride. #likeaboss

 

January 12, 2014

January 12, 2014

I’ve been getting off the resort and into the city a bit more, which is both nice and necessary.  Almost once a week I find myself at the famous Dubai Mall … it’s humongous and one of my fave shopping centres so I have no complaints on that score! We’re currently in the midst of the Dubai Shopping Festival (yep, that’s a real thing – check the pic below) so between that, looking around in souks like the one where I got the pink wallet/clutch pictured above for less than ten dollars, and a visit to the Dubai Outlet Mall (now that’s a heavenly word combination), I’ve been snagging some great deals.

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And I have to say, I feel like I’m settling in pretty well! Eating three times a day is awesome. The weather has had its ups and downs, but it looks like it’s starting to heat back up slowly but surely. Being 9 hours ahead of home makes it tricky to stay in touch as much as I’d like to, but Facebook has become my lifeline and I’m very grateful for Skype as well. I’ve met some awesome people, I’ve written 6 new songs in just over 8 weeks, I’m finding a balance between work and play, and I’m already very excited about the rest of 2014 and into 2015. Oh, and I’m slowly tanning. =)

Stay tuned for more updates and another Top Ten list coming your way!  (The first Tuesday of every month.)  Check out my YouTube channel for videos of the Dubai Marina, the dancing fountains at the Dubai Mall, a baby peacock, clips of our White Orchid performances, and – soon – my first completed video project since I got here.  Much love …

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Dubai recap – Show Week One is done …

… and today is my day off, so my goal is to bang this out and get back outside =)  (Today I finally got to the beach.  Video footage here.)

So, Jo Maharaj and I have finished our first week of shows at the White Orchid Lounge (Palm Tree Court, Jebel Ali Golf Resort, Dubai).

White Orchid Lounge

White Orchid Lounge

With the creative band name of “Jo & Chattrisse” (yep, really), we have entertained several dozen guests for four sets a night since Monday night.

1st night onstage

1st night onstage

We have crooned, laughed and sometimes improvised through such varied songs as Sweet Love by Anita Baker, Beyonce’s version of Fever (we’ve done those two every single night so far), Rehab by Amy Winehouse, Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen, Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, No No No by Dawn Penn (click here to see a snippet of video footage), and Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross.  We’ve had regulars come back for 5 or 6 nights in a row, we’ve had people up and dancing, we’ve even had the power cut out on us more than once.  (That’s when your improv and/or a cappella skills come in REALLY handy!)

We’ve garnered fans, like 5-year-old Daisy who left us this note:

It says "I love your singing so much" =D

It says “I love your singing so much” =D

And taken song requests …

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing.  #proudtobeJamaican

We get more requests for Bob Marley than for anyone else, and people from every background you can imagine are singing along, bopping their heads, or up and dancing. #proudtobeJamaican

And I am already so wholeheartedly grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity.

If you or someone you know is in the Dubai area and wants to check us out, come through!  No cover, if you’ve got questions you can leave a comment here or at www.facebook.com/chattrisse.

And with that – it’s lunchtime!  Feel free to stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course right here at www.chattrisse.com.  Thank you so much for your support and well wishes; bye for now!!!

 

On set for a Divine Brown video shoot ... the first time I was ever paid to dance ;-)

Singer who Moves Well

Those of you in the world of musical theatre, or anywhere else where triple threats can be found, can probably guess what this post is about.

I love to dance; I have as long as I can remember; I’ve spent lots of money and lots of time taking dance classes and workshops, I’ve choreographed and taught others, and I even convinced my father that one night a week we should watch So You Think You Can Dance Canada instead of whatever sports channel he normally lives on.  (In fact, as I post this, I’m packing up my heels for a dance class later tonight – if the video footage I get is any good, I’ll share it later!)

But when people ask me what I do, I usually say “I’m a performer” or “I write and sing” or “I’m a singer and actor” … or, if I’m in a chatty mood, “I write and sing and act and dance.” I never just say “I’m a dancer.” I would kind of feel like a fraud if I did.

For one thing, Dancer Chattrisse is a baby compared to Singer Chattrisse (started singing in public around age 6) and Actor Chattrisse (first took classes at age 8) and Writer Chattrisse (who was born at age 10, an outgrowth of Poet Chattrisse who came on the scene around the same time as Actor Chattrisse but faded into obscurity much sooner). I never took a dance class in my life until I was the ripe old age of 12, and I doubt I will ever be able to do the splits; kicks and pretty turns are still challenges for me, and it was an absolute shock to discover in 2009 that my male dance partners could lift me into the air. So dance is still the area on my resume in which I have the least experience, and therefore the least confidence.

Besides that, many of my dancer friends have been dancing since they were toddlers. Baby ballerinas are not only adorable; by the time they’re in their teens and twenties, people who have been dancing for that long (with adequate passion and proper instruction) are not to be messed with! So I have this tendency to shrink away from calling myself a dancer because to me, they are dancers.

The labels “singer who moves well” and “ strong mover” are more appropriate, as dorky as they look and sound. And I’m not saying I’ll never consider myself to be a dancer dancer, because since 2010 dance has been creeping back up my list of priorities and presenting itself as an activity that really does keep me sane. It also makes me feel liberated and sexy in a way that singing and acting don’t always do … though that may be because the styles I’ve been learning and teaching lately are almost exclusively burlesque-tinged or Caribbean. Many of my professional friends and acquaintances have been nice enough to show that they really appreciate my talent as a dancer, and if the dancer dancers are calling me a dancer, hey, I must be getting closer to the point where I am one.

For now, though, let’s not ask me to do any triple pirouettes; let’s hold off on even the double turns. Isn’t that what body doubles are for??