At 15 years old, Navid Charkhi took a high school dance class. Born in Iran, the Canadian dancer grew up watching live performances by Michael Jackson on television and emulating the pop singer’s signature moves. With formal training, Charkhi soon fell in love with the art of dance and went on to join award-winning competitive dance crews in Vancouver, eventually taking his career to the next level with professional film, television and live performances. The support of his parents has been essential in his climb to the top.
“Every parent wants their kid to become the doctor or dentist, or something. It was hard for my parents to understand my interest in a performance career at the start but they saw my hard work and how much passion I have for the art of dance and, of course, that I was earning an income,” Charkhi adds.
Working with some of the best dancers, choreographers and directors in the business, Charkhi watches closely and learns from each new person he encounters, gaining inspiration to keep pushing and achieving his goals in this profession. As a result, those who work with him immediately recognize Charkhi’s abilities, talent, and drive.
Famed director and co-choreographer of the High School Musical films, Kenny Ortega was impressed with the talent and skill Charkhi showed recently on the set of Descendants 2.
“Navid’s natural instincts performing complex dance moves as a principal dancer made him an irreplaceable asset to the film,” Ortega says.
Co-choreographer on the film, Tony Testa agrees that Charkhi brings value to the movie and its producers.
“[Charkhi] is able to instantly adapt to any type of dance depending on the style of the production, which,” Testa explains, “is an extremely important characteristic for a Descendants 2 dancer to have.”
This versatility and ability to rise to any challenge have made Charkhi a standout during auditions and production, leading often to his promotion as a leader on film and television projects. Ron Oliver, an Emmy-nominated director who worked with Charkhi on Mostly Ghostly 3, mentions quickly assigning him to work as assistant to the choreographer, Richard O’Sullivan. Charkhi collaborated with O’Sullivan to create the movie’s choreography in just three days.
“Working under such pressure did not faze Navid,” recalls Oliver. “In fact, he welcomed these obstacles and dealt with them with incredible ease by having the entire dance scene completed in less than two days.”
Charkhi, who specializes in Urban Hip-Hop, has trained in Jazz, Contemporary, Popping, and other styles. His talents are not limited to the screen, however. They’re not even limited to dance.
Having received his license in pastry arts, Charkhi is also a remarkable baker, using his creativity to plate desserts, build and decorate wedding cakes, and sculpt chocolate. If his still young career in the movie business were not skyrocketing, Charkhi says he would probably own a food truck highlighting the most important portion of any meal– dessert.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for anyone with a sweet tooth, Charkhi has been unstoppable as a dance talent in the industry. He’s successful as a live performer as well, appearing in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony and with Vancouver’s finest Urban dance talent in Urban Alchemy. Most recently, Charkhi collaborated on a contemporary dance project choreographed by Heather Laura Gray called The Tunnel. Performing live is very different from dance for camera.
“When you’re in front of the camera you can cut as many times and capture the best parts of the performance,” Charkhi shares. “When performing live, you only have one chance to send your message out there. The process was longer for The Tunnel but the thrill and the reviews we got were amazing.”
The most rewarding part of such a performance, according to Charkhi, is that it allows him to grow and stretch himself as a dancer. Gray witnessed this process first-hand and describes evidence of Charkhi’s ability to tap into his creativity and make great artistic choices.
“Navid is a very open person and that makes him extremely easy to work with. Any tasks that were given, even if it was something new, he would fully commit and not let fear take over,” she remarks.
Gray also mentions that Charkhi’s energy behind-the-scenes makes him a skilled and effective collaborator.
“You can tell he values working with people to create the best outcome possible, it is not just a solo venture for him.”
In this spirit, Charkhi is quick to credit his teachers and mentors for helping him keep his feet amidst the challenges of a thriving and diverse career in entertainment. It’s not easy doing it all but Charkhi gives insight into what keeps his passion alive.
“I believe if you focus on something that you really love to do, it will take you far in life and keep you and everyone around you happy. I love to perform,” he declares.
That love is obvious judging by Charkhi’s stage and screen successes so far and this dancer on the rise is just getting warmed up.