Odjig, an Odawa-Ojibwe who lives in Toronto, auditioned for and became a featured performer for Canada’s Got Talent.
The first-year show, similar to the established America’s Got Talent, enables any person or group to showcase their skills in front of judges, a live audience and all those watching at home on television.
Odjig, a two-time world hoop dancing champion, was one of 36 contestants who advanced to the semi-final round. But after her second national TV appearance on Apr. 22, Odjig was eliminated the following evening during the show’s results broadcast when the semi-final votes were announced. Anybody could vote for their favorite performer by phone, text, Facebook, Twitter or online.
“The whole journey – all of it was a fantastic experience,” she said of what she will remember most about her time in the national spotlight. Odjig’s journey with the show began last summer.
“I was walking through a department store when I heard an advertisement on the radio,” she said. “When I heard it, it said it could be any talent.”
And what was Odjig doing in the store?
“I was on a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll,” she said. “I was actually going to look for bug spray.”
Upon hearing the ad, Odjig thought she could fit the bill. After all, she had won the world hoop dancing championships, held annually in Phoenix, in 2000 and in 2003. She’s also been a runner-up at the world competition four other times. Plus, she’s won seven other hoop dancing events across Canada and the United States.
Odjig last competed at the world championships in 2007. Work commitments – she’s a program associate for Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre – have prevented her from participating in Phoenix the last few years.
“Yes I would like to get back there some time,” Odjig said of the world competition. “But right now I’m just trying to balance my work and my performances that I have here and there.”
Thanks to her appearances on Canada’s Got Talent, Odjig has already started lining up some other gigs as various organizers of festivals throughout Ontario have shown interest in having her perform at their events.
After hearing about the search for contestants, Odjig filled out an online application. From there, she was invited to audition at Toronto’s Rogers Centre last September. Then, five weeks later, she received an email informing her she would move on to the next stage – auditioning in front of the show’s judges as well as a live audience.
Odjig sufficiently impressed the judges at that December performance as well as at another January cutdown showing, where they narrowed the field of competitors to 36. Odjig, however, did face some challenges throughout her Canada’s Got Talent journey.
For example, her televised routine could only be a maximum of 90 seconds. Usually her hoop dancing performance lasts about eight and a half minutes.
“That was a challenge (cutting the routine),” Odjig said. “Ninety seconds is not a lot of time, especially for hoop dance.”
And Odjig was not entirely thrilled will some of the decisions of the show’s organizers. During what proved to be her last performance on the show on Apr. 22, Odjig was joined on stage by various Native dancers.
Though she was focussed on her routine – which included dancing with up to 17 hoops at once – Odjig said she was disappointed afterwards when she saw the performance. That’s because there was one dancer in particular who was banging on a drum and running around the stage. Odjig felt that performer took the attention off her routine, a fact that was echoed by a reviewer in a Toronto daily newspaper.
“I loved the idea of the eagle dancers,” she said. “But I was not really fond of some of the CGT artistic choices.”