THE HONEYKATS performing as part of KICK UP YOUR HEELS at Harbourfront Centre (around 235 Queens Quay West), Friday (August 26), 7 pm. Festival runs August 26-28. Free. 416-973-4000.
Don't get Katarina Rajkovic started about Britney Spears.
The multi-tasking local dance artist has been trying to legitimize hiphop and jazz, but realizes some people can get the wrong impression from watching dumb music videos.
"This kind of dance can be done badly, and it's just as boring to watch as bad interpretive dance," she laughs. "You have 12-year-olds pretending to be 20, and that's just not right. So much of what you see out there isn't about the dance, it's about how few clothes you have on."
Rajkovic's trying to change all that with her troupe the HoneyKats, one of the country's premier companies devoted to urban dance. They're part of Kick Up Your Heels, Harbourfront's weekend of dance performances and interactive workshops.
"When I audition dancers, I look for people who can do jazz, hiphop and modern," she says. "I don't want to be limited."
Rajkovic's own training includes dance of all kinds, as well as competitive figure skating and classical piano. Although she graduated with a fine arts degree in dance at York, she was disappointed with the school's program.
"There was ballet, modern and choreography - and that's not enough variety," she says. "In any of the performing arts, how can you only study two genres?"
She admits that the bias against jazz and hiphop extends from academia to the local performing arts scene.
"I think people have forgotten about dance as pure entertainment," she says. "That's why we're calling our show This Is What We've Got. There's no theme. Just lots of interesting moves."
Eventually, she'd like to take those moves and choreograph them into a larger work, something with a narrative arc. It's been done before with hip-hop and jazz.
"But you need time for that kind of artistic statement," she says. "Developing a story takes commitment. And time is not something I have a lot of right now. I don't even have time to write a grant application."
As well as being a performer and choreographer, Rakjovic also manages the company, booking them into corporate gigs, classes and the occasional music video. Since 2002, the HoneyKats have mounted an annual gala that draws in hundreds of urban dance lovers.
But don't expect to find them shaking their booties onstage at the city's nightclubs.
"I try to stay clear of that scene unless it's for a special event, like an awards ceremony or something," she says. "Go-go dancing is not what we're about. We're more than eye candy."