Keen to enter the vibrant, exciting world of Australian dance? There’s an increasing number of ways to get your strut on and develop a career in dance and choreography these days, with the traditional dance schools no longer the only pathway to success.
One of Australia’s brightest new dance makers, Amrita Hepi, knows a thing or two about forging a path forward in contemporary dance theatre, and today, as part of our series with AustralianSuper helping you kick start your creative career, she shares her insight into some of the lessons every up and coming choreographer and dancer needs to know!
Dance is not just your Eisteddfod sections (ballet/jazz/contemporary/hip hop)
There is a whole world of dance that exists outside of the traditional realms that is just as valid as these forms. Do not dismiss what you’ve never tried, nor assume that because you’ve got “great technique” you’ll be good at everything.
Search deeper, broader, and longer. Don’t be a dance snob. No style is more superior than the next. It might not be your forte but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have worth.
Who’s to say this isn’t a perfectly respectable dance style?
Making the “company” first year out of grad school isn’t the be all and end all
Hate to break it to you babes, but more often than not you won’t make it into the company straight away (and ignore the tutors or teachers that tell you that’s the be all and end all – it’s awesome to have a goal but sometimes you have to reassess).
While this can be heartbreaking, keep in mind it can also be the best thing that ever happens to you! Go to Europe and dance your ass off, become an independent maker, try again next year, look to other companies and try your hand out at making your own work. Heck, make your own company! Work with the others that also didn’t make it in the first year out. There is more than one way, always!
You’ve GOT to support your community
Go and support the person that DID make the company! Go and support the person who is making their own work! Pledge five bucks to someone’s Pozible campaign.
Dance is competitive but the competitiveness needn’t be personal or take away from supporting others. Don’t be a jealous loser. We all win when our medium is visible and celebrated.
The more people are engaged in dance as an audience, maker, producer, dancer, etc. the better. There is plenty to go ’round and the more you give the more you get back in the end.
Be classy. Support your friends!
Knowing your form through and through (physically & intellectually) is vital
Some dancers I know can speak about their form so beautifully, as well as physically, it gives me goosebumps – but it takes practice. I think there is a really common misconception that dancers don’t have a voice or are considered stupid – they’re most definitely not.
You don’t have to deliver whole speeches, but you will be asked to discuss your work, so make sure you’ve done your research and can verbally express your ideas.
Doing stuff you’re bad at can help in the long run
Take the advanced class and go and go until you improve. Yes, it feels good being good at something, being the best in the class and nailing the basics but I think there is merit in honing it back in and slowing it down. Sometimes it’s worthwhile trying something new, or pushing yourself to the next level.
It can feel awful not being great at something, or feeling out of sync or time, but sometimes it’s necessary. You may find yourself in an amazing improv class or if you’re unlucky, you may end up in a really weird contact improv class with lots of middle aged dudes in harem pants (but at least you’ll know!).
It irritates me big time when I see people who are crazy talented but not pushing themselves by staying on the same level to save face, with the whole “OMG I haven’t done class in ages!” *stays in the same beginners/elementary class*
Get out and move up! Better to fall on your face and learn why, than to be going through the same motions and not changing face at all.
Don’t be afraid to fail!
Seeing other dancework can give you the breakthrough you need
I get it. You want to be in Sydney Dance Company and they are the bee knees for you – but go and see the weird experimental African dance troupe your mum is taking you to!
You may love it, or you may hate it – but you can learn from it. Identify why you hated it (other than that it’s not Sydney Dance Company). It’ll help you with having a truly critical thought process with your own dancing.
Amrita Hepi is a Sydney based dance maker. Find out more about her and her work here.
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