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More than Just a Hollow Title

Hearing about the ins and outs of our on-campus model world seemed like a perfect way to build anticipation for Project Red’s end-of-the-year fashion show in less than a month’s time.

Meet Liv, Syd, and Boris: Mentors to Project Red’s 31 models.

One of the most daunting tasks they faced was back in September, hiring a select number of models from a mass of auditions that spanned several days. Certainly, such a selection process is hardly easy or straightforward. Only about 1 out of 3 models that auditioned were cast. When asked what type of personal qualities or physical traits they were looking for, all three of them stressed that personality and time commitment was a big factor. As for these three, their most admirable quality is their easy-going nature and willingness to dispense practical advice in a personal way to the models under their wing.

At the beginning of the year, Model Choreo faced the task of training and transitioning dozens of students into their model roles, many whose first time modeling started this year with Project Red. Acclimatizing anyone to a new role can be difficult. However, on-going socials, additional scheduled practices, and heel walking tutorials were many of their extra efforts to ensure they had a cohesive group. Syd adds that last term, before their rehearsal schedules became busier, Duck Duck Goose was played. Silly ice-breakers reminiscent of elementary school days lightened the atmosphere. Liv, Syd, and Boris complement each other nicely as a team, or as Liv puts it they work essentially as the brains, bronze, and beauty. I’ll leave you guessing who’s who until the Project Red video interview is released. Another thing these three agree upon? They couldn’t imagine having a smaller group. Liv especially loves Wednesday nights when the whole model cast gets together, allowing for bonding time she says.

As much fun as these three make Model Choreo seem, often people overlook or forget the fact that entirely student-led organizations such as Project Red are run by full-time students and are entirely volunteer based. The time commitment works very much like a demanding full-time job so much so that we tend to see each other labeled by our positions and in relation to each other. Comparmentalizing people by their roles is an easy way for us to keep track of one another, especially when the Project Red cast – between dancers, models, interns, execs, and the production team – amasses to a staggering 100+ membership. However, we must dispel the tendency to perceive each other by position titles, especially since each executive member that supervises and liaises with interns and general members are more than their vague and general job titles.

Seemingly, the glamourized role of being head of Model Choreo eclipses the general notion that these three are all students, akin to one of us. The three of them share the same role as Model Choreo, but Syd, Liv, and Boris are inarguably different people – though you may at first mistaken Syd and Liv, these leggy blondes, to be sisters. Or you may make the initial assumption that Boris is as easygoing and laidback in school as he is with his social life. Yet, these three possess more dimension than the hollow label of Model Choreo.

For example, who knew Boris was such a keener and well-rounded student? Certainly, not me last Halloween when I first met him; Dressed as a nerd with suspenders and thick-framed glasses, donning an identical outfit with two of his friends, he left me with a ridiculous impression of a goofball, an epitome of being a carefree student – and not one to be taken seriously.

Yet, Boris demonstrates his versatile reach into other domains – whether it is academics or athletics. He is the Assistant Director of a private music school for classical music. He is the chair for the Biology Capstone Speaker Committee, organizing a speech by David Suzuki’s daughter, Severn Suzuki, for the general student body. He instructs and competes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He organizes an annual park clean up in his hometown of Richmond Hill. He is currently undertaking a research thesis in molecular biology and genetics, deciphering the molecular pathways of neuropeptide signaling. Perhaps self-conscious about coming off as a little nerdy and jeopardizing his self-proclaimed nickname ‘Bigg Boss’, he then adds, he spent a year in the army reserves – airborne infantry. Cool story, I think with genuine surprise. All of this leaves me with the perpetual sense that Project Red to Boris becomes a much needed outlet for fun and an opportunity to showcase his penchant for the catwalk.

Thus, students such as Liv, Syd, and Boris are not just Model Choreographers – nor are they simply models that were promoted to Head Model. They’re more than that. They are mentors, motivating and encouraging each of their models in their individual progress. They build model confidence by cheering and applauding during practice. They are the ideal audience, receptive and accepting of all the quirks of their models. Gradually, over an extended period of weeks from October onwards until the show in March, they foster personal growth in each of their models, acting as a crutch of emotional support. What is more, they help their first year models find a niche at Queen’s. (After sitting in on one of their practices, I can assert all of this with conviction.)

Clearly, taking on a leadership role hardly stops at the job title. A job title is just the superficial shell that reveals little of the entire true (and countless hidden) responsibilities. I would argue that to their models, Liv, Syd, and Boris are more than just the Head Choreographers; they are also their friends and part of a larger support network that will inarguably be there after the end-of-the-year show in March.

Despite an on-rush of rehearsals being tightly scheduled in the weeks approaching the show, Liv, Syd, and Boris remain unfazed for the most part. Actually, Liv and Syd are most excited for the scene in which they are both models and Boris will be choreographing. We know we can expect great things, especially when Boris jokes about his 3 year relationship with Project Red and adds that they are engaged to be married this April. I personally look forward to seeing the creative collaborative efforts of these three and hope to see you at the show this March 8th and 9th.

Yours Creatively,

Jessica Chong, Online Contributor