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When and where: 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on October 6, Centrepointe Theater
Tsehay Hawkins never seems to run out of energy, a quality that makes her a perfect Wiggle.
The 16-year-old Ethiopian-born dancer is the newest member of Wiggles, Australia’s superstar children’s group, joining the colorful pack after the departure of beloved yellow Wiggle, Emma Watkins, who left the group during the pandemic to focus on his family and graduate studies.
Putting on the yellow sweater is a thrill for Hawkins, who was adopted by an Australian family and grew up watching the four boys, known as the Beatles to preschoolers, on television. In fact, seeing them perform on the small screen made her want to do the same, the effervescent teen said in an interview.
“I think I was dancing as soon as I could walk, and that’s mostly because of the Wiggles because I listened to all of their amazing hit songs,” Hawkins said. “It was always repeated in our house, and I think that’s what started it. I always wanted to be an actor. Dance is my passion.”
The Wiggles discovered her through Instagram, where she loved posting her dance videos. In addition to an abundance of natural talent, Hawkins is also a highly skilled dancer with over a decade of lessons under her belt, covering everything from jazz and ballet to hip hop and Latin styles.
Her journey with the group began in 2020 with an invitation to film as a backup dancer. Between lockdowns, she appeared in a DVD special and a YouTube series, but she had pretty much decided she wanted to get back into her own career as a dancer when she got the call that changed the trajectory of her life.
It all happened so fast that she had no time to get nervous about replacing Watkins, who was the first woman to join the lineup of Anthony Field (Blue Wiggle), Simon Pryce (Red Wiggle) and Lachlan Gillespie (Purple Wiggle), who formed the group in 1991. As soon as Hawkins agreed, he went into the studio to shoot some introductory videos.
“It was literally the day before it was announced, so I didn’t have time to hesitate or worry,” recalls Hawkins. “I think that was good for me because I tend to overthink things. Emma was amazing; she inspired so many girls around the world so i knew there were definitely big shoes to fill. But the response has been incredible.”
Even after a three-year pandemic-induced absence, The Wiggles are more popular than ever, with a YouTube channel that has nearly 2.5 million subscribers and more than three billion views. They’ve been collaborating with rock stars like Tame Impala and Kid LAROI, released an album of cover songs by the likes of White Stripes and Rhianna, and were tickled when actor Steve Carell released a video auditioning for the role. of the yellow Wiggle. . (He was too late; Hawkins was already in his place.)
Now back on the road for one of their epic Canadian tours, the group travels the country from St. John’s, NL to Victoria, BC, often putting on three shows a day to sold-out crowds of young fans. Hawkins is traveling with his mother and will continue her studies online. What does he like most about Canada so far? Tim Horton’s hot chocolate.
Hawkins is also collaborating with the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada on a free eBook to help children learn about the importance of representation and different family structures, including adoption. It is available at somethingincommon.ca.
As for the pace of travel and the physical cost, it suits him well.
“I used to dance seven days a week, all day, every day, so I’m used to busy schedules,” she says. “This is different, traveling and flying and driving and doing shows and interviews, so I’m getting used to the flow of things but I love it. I love being busy.”
Meanwhile, Wiggles founder Anthony Field is delighted to see Hawkins connecting with kids from all cultures. Fans have been showing their appreciation for him by wearing sunflowers, his signature accessory, in his hair as well.
“I just think it’s great to have more diversity in the Wiggles, reflecting our society,” he said, noting the multicultural makeup of Australia and Canada. “Children who have a different skin tone than mine can relate to Tsehay. She has wonderful energy, a beautiful personality, she is incredibly talented and she is smiling all the time.”