Co-founder of Hallowed Grounds, Caroline Torti, talks about her passion of dance and taking a step into entrepreneurship

By Marjan Asadullah

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In this weekly series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. A professional choreographer and a creative director, Caroline Torti co-created Hallowed Ground—a digital platform for choreographers. 

From an outsider’s’ perspective, it might seem like being a professional choreographer and creative director is always fun. Behind the scenes however, the job comes with personal sacrifices, unprepared injuries, and a whole lot of ups and downs.  

For Caroline Torti, though, this isn’t just a job because she’s always been driven by passion. The 33-year-old choreographer, who was born in Kamloops, British Columbia and later raised in Toronto, found her passion while still in high school where she spent her time teaching other students at her studio, going to auditions, and performing with a few young recording artists.

Since pursuing her career in dance a decade ago, she says she’s fortunate that her work has taken her across the world, including the United States, Asia and Europe and more.

It was a few years ago that Torti became fascinated with film and creating dance for the scene while she worked in Vancouver’s television industry. Torti later went on to create her first dance film, RUIN, which was later selected to screen at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. When she went down to screening, she was blown away by the sheer talent other dancers could offer.

When Torti came back home, she wanted to continue watching dance pieces that she saw during the festival but could only find bits and pieces scattered across the internet. That’s when Torti co-founded Hallowed Grounds, a high-quality digital platform that displays various dancing content from featured artists, while also showcasing original Hallowed Grounds material to watch, learn and share from.

We contacted Torti to find out more about how she do all that she does.

What have been some of the difficulties that came your way pursuing a career in dance?

A career in dance is always a challenge no matter what stage you’re in. It is a physically demanding profession, and dealing with injuries is a big part of it. The mental challenges are another big reason why some people push on and achieve success in this industry, and why a great deal leave to pursue other things. The process of creation, self-doubt, and confidence are always in flux; this is not a job based on cold, hard facts. For me I have found that to overcome these difficulties, you have to have a certain amount of blind faith. The attitude that something wonderful is going to come, that you will get the task done somehow someway, is what keeps me going through the doubtful moments.

What has been the outcome once you created Hallowed Grounds?

So far, the response has been overwhelming. We are so excited when someone tells us that they visited the site or saw something they’ve never seen before. And, we have had some amazing requests to collaborate from other artists, creative community programs, even a television series! We have been allowed to shoot content in venues we never thought possible, including the incredible Bjarke Ingel’s Serpentine Pavilion that was stationed in Toronto this fall. Hallowed Grounds is still so young, and we are open and ready for the possibilities the future has.

What advice do you have for young women who are pursuing a career in business?

I think in the time that we live in, it’s more important than ever for women to tackle their dreams with unrelenting ambition. The most important piece of advice I could give to women pursuing a career in business is to be patient. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that things happen quickly and easily. 

What have you done or said to yourself anytime you had doubts or fears about taking risks in your career?

As a freelancer, or a self-employed artist, you think about your career a lot and you are always assessing and reassessing your goals. I think calculated risks are inevitable and it is important to do your research, put the time in to eliminate any negative outcomes that you possibly can, and be well informed when you make that uncertain move. After that, conviction to your goal,  belief in your ability and the work you have done so far have to carry you and give you faith that the right things will work out and the things that do not, were not meant to be. I think any other attitude will drive you mad! 

What advice would you offer to people who are unsure of where their career is taking them?

I feel that many people I speak withregardless of what level or phase of their career they are inare always uncertain to a degree. I think that’s what pushes you to want more and do more. When you realize that you will still be unsure once you pass “the next level”, you start to value how far you’ve come and feel content in your place. Then you just keep moving forward because, if you are ambitious and determined, that is the only direction.

What keeps you motivated?

I chose to take this path because I wanted to do something I was passionate about with my life. I had very good grades in school and could have probably had a successful career in any number to fields, but I chose this. Reminding myself of that is my ultimate motivation when times are trying.

What’s in store for the rest of 2019? 

I am currently working on a show in Zurich until the end of February and then I will be back in Toronto for the remainder of 2019 and I plan to dive right back into content creation with Hallowed Grounds. We have some wonderful collaborations lined up and some wicked events for dancers and creatives in the works. On a personal note, I am getting married in June so this year will be a lovely balance of time for work, and time for love, family, and self-care.