Unbeatable Arbour pumps it up

Nicole Arbour (top centre) teaches as a guest choregrapher to some fellow dancers at the Humber dance studio above the gym. Photo by Amanda Tuzi Nicole Arbour (top centre) teaches as a guest choregrapher to some fellow dancers at the Humber dance studio above the gym. Photo by Amanda Tuzi

Amanda Tuzi
A&E Reporter

Cheerleader, producer, singer, comedian, choreographer — there’s nothing that entertainer and activist Nicole Arbour hasn’t mastered.

“Some people will tell you to focus on one thing, and those people are just silly. It’s been the absolute best for me to do a whole bunch of different things and I’ve been able to wrap it all around. I was a cheerleader for the NBA Raptors at the same time I was doing stand up for Yuk Yuks and then putting those together helped me choreograph for the NBA last year,” Arbour said.

Before making her mark on the entertainment industry, Arbour started her career at Humber College. While enrolled in the Comedy Writing and Performance program Arbour made it her mission to establish a varsity dance team, to continue her passion for dance.

Humber Athletics rejected Arbour’s proposal to make their five-woman unofficial dance team a reality. But Athletics made them a deal – win nationals and their dance team would be an official varsity sport the following year.

Arbour and her team, including the present coach and former Humber student Katie Hagan, went up against all of the major universities who had 30 members, uniforms, coaches and huge budgets.

“We were short one girl, we needed six and we had five so I went to the pub found the best dancer and I trained her. It was crazy. We made our own costumes and got the pub DJ to mix our music for us. It sounds just like a teen movie,” Arbour said.

Against all odds, they won the championships and the Humber Hype dance team was created. They continue to compete and support other varsity sports.

“It was amazing, when I think of Humber and going here it was all about the dance team to me. Humber Hyper was my entire school experience, we went to all the varsity games especially for basketball, and those guys were our best friends. All the teams loved us and we performed at everything. The basketball team actually came to our competition and carried us onto the stage. There was actually that much comradery between us,” Arbour said.

On Nov. 3 Arbour stepped back onto Humber grounds almost 11 years after graduating. She came to guest-choreograph, train and provide tips to the present members of the varsity dance team.

Coach Hagan was on the team for five years after it was founded. When she originally joined, her squad captain was Arbour.

“I think it’s nice for it to come full circle and have somebody with the experience of Nicole and the ability of Nicole teaching the students almost fifteen years later,” Hagan said.

Arbour’s bubbly and cheerful personality didn’t stop her from getting down to business – helping the squad improve for future competition.

“I think it’s awesome. Getting outside choreography is great, but to have it being her is even better. Having her here brings it back to the roots of the whole team,” said Erika Sunstrum, 21, a forth-year interior design student and present captain of the Humber Hype.

“I want to make sure that this team is still awesome. For me to come back is to keep an eye on that dynasty,” Arbour said.

Arbour has also appeared on many comedic television shows, such as Video on Trial, Howie Do it and CMT’s The Hottest. She has also starred in movies such as The Rocker and You Might As Well Live.

In 2008, all of Arbour’s new and exciting projects were halted when she got into a car accident.

“I thought I was okay at first but as time went on, it got progressively worse to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore. I was in bed for years but when I saw the report that said I would be disabled for life, something went off in my head and I said ‘no I don’t think this is the end for me,’” Arbour said.

“I heard a little cheerleader in my head and I always say that I heard Denzel Washington saying, ‘Its not time to give up, its time to get up.’”

Arbour switched roles from cheering for others to cheering for herself.

She motivated herself to recuperate by putting sticky notes around her home with phrases saying, ‘you’re not broken’ and ‘you’re better and stronger everyday.’

Arbour realized how much self-motivation helped her and decided she wanted to share her passion and cheer for others, starting the movement #GoTeam.

“It’s karma, it’s instant, it works, it worked for me and now I spread it and the more I spread it the more I see it helping everybody,” Arbour said.

This past summer, the #GoTeam Tour offered an intense workshop in Toronto that drew a wide range of people, from ages 12 to 60, for the full-day event.

“I get letters all the time that it’s changed someone’s life and I don’t even take that in because it’s not me, it’s the whole thing. I’ve had parents write to me and say their kid used to cut and they don’t anymore, I’ve had adults say they were going to commit suicide and they didn’t, or they found a new job, or one left their spouse when they knew it wasn’t right. I’m like, ‘go team, do what’s good for you and be happy’,” Arbour said.

The #GoTeam’s first major project was launching Arbour’s first single called “Bang! Bang!” A project that would be Arbour’s comeback.

“It was so much fun, felt like it was going to be something really special, I have never worked harder in my life. I directed it too and it was my first time directing and I had a cast of over 100 so that was crazy, but it was something for me to focus on that was positive when I was in psychotic pain,” Arbour said.

Fifty per cent of the sales from “Bang! Bang!” on iTunes will go to the Chronic Pain Association of Canada and other support efforts.

Currently, Arbour has worked on CMT’s The Hottest, Sunny Megatron, Too Much Information (all of which are airing now), and has signed a contract with a YouTube Agency.

With all that Arbour has going on in her life she still finds the time to coach and teach people about turning themselves into a brand.

“I feel like when you learn, you need to teach. I’ve been learning so much that I now need to teach,” Arbour said.

Arbour has mastered cheerleading, producing, singing, being a comedian, and a choreographer. “There’s nothing else for me, this is it. It’s not even a career, it’s my lifestyle. I’m just lucky enough to get paid for my crazy job. This is what I’m supposed to do and I think everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, it’s just having the guts to do it.”