- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 20 July 2022, 5:30PM
From South Auckland to the world stage!
Jessica Toatoa was born and raised in Papakura, Aotearoa. A hip hop dancer that took her first class at 6 years old at the Papakura Rec Centre. In her early teens Jess would train upwards of 30 hours a week and competed all around New Zealand.
In 2010 she took the competitive NZ dance scene by storm. Winning numerous awards both locally and nationally, she won The Ora Burnett Award in 2014 with a $5000 scholarship prize claiming her as the top dance soloist in New Zealand.
At 15, Jessica joined Parris Goebel’s internationally recognised “The Palace Dance Studio” where she competed at World Hip Hop Championships and was featured in her first music video 'Sorry' by Justin Bieber. Since then she has moved across the world to dance professionally in cities such as LA, NYC and Taipei. Parris continues to work closely with Jessica and hires her for the top tier jobs in the industry. This includes featuring as a lead role in both previous Savage X Fenty Amazon Prime Shows Vol 2 & 3, curated by Rihanna and choreographed by Parris. This year she was flown out twice to New York to perform alongside Parris in NYFW for The Blonds Fashion Show and The Made Fashion Show.
While Jessica has booked some of the best dance work in America she continues to refine her craft by training under the best. She was accepted into VMA winning choreographer Dana Foglia’s 3 month mentorship, along with dance Icon Danielle Polanco’s advanced course in New York. Jessica keeps up her training regularly and assists some of the best tutors/choreographers in LA at studios such as Millennium, TMilly and Playground.
Handpicked by acclaimed choreographers such as Ysabelle Capitule, Jon Boogz, Rhapsody James, Kiel Tutin and Parris Goebel, Jessica is always striving to push herself into new areas of the industry. From legendary Kpop music videos to show stopping award shows, the dancer proves that her wide variety of knowledge and training has paid off.
In 2019, Jessica along with 400 other dancers auditioned for C-Pop superstar Jolin Tsai’s Ugly Beauty World Tour. The creative directors “The Squared Division” casted the 21 year old as 1 of the 16 Principal Dancers who went on to perform multiple sold out shows during the pandemic for 20,000 plus fans each time in Taiwan.
Jessica was recently brought on for a crucial role alongside fellow NZ choreographer and dancer Kiel Tutin. She was hired to be the stand-in for none other than the icon Jennifer Lopez, for her summer series of shows, including the Los Angeles Dodgers Gala Foundation and the World Air Transport Summit in Qatar. Jessica’s crucial role included guiding Ms. Lopez with choreography and serving as a reference dancer for the choreographer. Her role was promoted again further to dance with Jennifer for her IHeart Radio Icon Performance and Movie premiere concert “Marry Me, Tonight”.
Jessica likes to think back to her beginnings in her hometown Papakura and is grateful for her journey thus far and everyone who believed in her. From dancing and dreaming in the studios back home to an artist representing Maori on world class stadium stages, Jessica feels so blessed to be living her dream and creating space for future artists.
Follow Jessica on Instagram here!