Justin Corbo: Dance for the Passion of It

Justin Corbo understood from an early age what it means to be a dancer. This Montreal native felt the call of Dance and understood it to be a celebration of creativity and life; a constantly evolving artistic narrative expressed with the human body’s grace rather than through exposition. Accepting that the investment he placed in the art would likely receive its greatest compensation in the form of public adulation and the praise of his peers/collaborators rather than a deluge of cash, Corbo has never looked back and questioned his decision.

Live performances in front of crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands, music videos, and well deserved recognition as one of the great dancers and choreographers of Canada is the result of years of refining the extraordinary talent which is so intuitive to Justin, though he will adamantly profess that there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance in the Arts.

He relates, “Dance is a very competitive field and requires strength, focus, and determination as we receive more ‘no’ than ‘yes.’ Dance is evolving every day which requires us to be up to date, to keep training as well as exercising as it is a very demanding job. The pay may not always be commensurate with the work, and the treatment we receive as dancers is not always equal to that of other artists, but we choose this path because of our passion and that passion comes forth in our work.”

Dance doesn’t always require a partner but we often think of it that way. For Justin, his professional relationship with dancer/choreographer Sarah Lefebvre has been one of the most enduring and fruitful of his life. He credits this association with providing the opportunity to display his talent and for leading to his own sole career as a choreographer.

The duo’s collaboration on music videos for artists such as Laurence Nerbonne’s “Montréal XO” and “Nos Cœurs” and Clo Pelgag’s “Samedi soir à la violence” as well as with the internationally acclaimed Cirque du soleil (Juno/Primetime Emmy/Daytime Emmy Awarded) has led to their renown in the industry. For the 375 New Year final show Montreal, Justin took part in the creation of choreography alongside Sarah for Laurence Nerbonne’s performance at this massive event in addition to performing with the artist on stage.

Pride in one’s own performance and in Canada comes at the expense of harshness of the elements for events such like this as Mr. Corbo communicates, “It’s always a great experience to dance for a crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands but the frigid weather made it difficult, as did the ice which often threatened our balance and caused sliding. In spite of all this, this event reminded me that I am in the right place at the right time pursuing what fulfills me more than anything.” 

Justin and Sarah have collaborated to create works for television as well. The Rentrée hiver TVA Network (Quebec’s largest television broadcaster with 6.3 million viewers per week across all platforms) commercial campaign for the upcoming Fall programs featured talents such as Les Twins, Jean-Marc Généreux, Lydia Bouchard, and others alongside dancers performing a street/hip hop style in various locations around the city.

One of the featured dancers as well as assistant choreographer, Justin had a strong influence on this commercial which achieved such a strong balance of artistry and humor. He reveals, “Most of the TV talent featured in this commercial were not professional dancers. In addition to establishing dance performances that the non-pros could achieve and were comfortable with, we needed to be able to blend the performances of the pro dancers in a way that supports and strengthens them. There is a fine art to being a supportive collaborator.”  

Perhaps more than most, Justin Corbo represents what it truly means to be a professional artist in modern times. Immensely committed to the art form and seeking to create rather than focused on being in the spotlight, his remarkable talent as a dancer fuels his insight as a choreographer. Equally comfortable in front of the camera or on stage in front of stadium audiences, Justin seems unfazed by attention in deference to attaining that ideal creative moment.

Writer: Sharon Howe