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Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year

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JOANNE KING: The dance team at the Arts Unit of the NSW Department of Education have produced this podcast as part of the 'Listen @ the Arts Unit' series. This podcast is produced on Gadigal and Cadigal land of the Eora nation. We pay our respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land, with further acknowledgment of the many lands this podcast will be listened to across Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, storytelling, music and dance, along with the people, hold the memories of Australia's traditions, culture, and hopes. Let us also acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and people in our presence today who guide us with their wisdom.

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ANNOUNCER: Listen at the Arts Unit.

JOANNE KING: Well, welcome, Alex and Linda. Thank you for joining our Dance @ the Arts Unit podcast series. It's really great to be here today and I look forward to chatting with you. So, Linda, would you be able to start by telling us what's your role at Sydney Dance Company?

LINDA: My role at Sydney Dance Company is that I'm head of training. We have a quite a large education and training department now at Sydney Dance Company that has been developed over the last 10 years, and with the philosophy that's been created and that was there from the beginning of the PPY program, it's filtered out into all of the other education programs, which is really exciting, and even to the open classes as well, and through the processes and policies and procedures that we have for our young people, can get filtrated through to the whole company, which is-- it's just very exciting to work for an organisation that is open to this culture change and the shift to be individual with diversity.

JOANNE KING: And how long have you worked at Sydney Dance Company? So, you--

LINDA: Oh, gosh.

JOANNE KING: --obviously developed the program 10 years ago, but have you had an association with Sydney Dance Company before that time?

LINDA: I was a company dancer when Graham Murphy and Janet Vernon were directing the company. Gosh, that was a long time ago. Let me think.

1997, maybe? [laughs] And then I was pregnant, had a child. So, I moved into the office then as I was shifting away from my performing career for that moment and became company manager and personal assistant to Graham and Janet.


LINDA: And then I came back just teaching company classes. I started teaching. Really enjoyed teaching after my career, which led me to understand what I was teaching, why I was teaching it. And it started me on the track of changing some of the-- teaching differently to my teachers and trying to work out what that was, and why that was, and why did I want to teach differently, and created an obsession with philosophy and culture. And that's when I came back to the company and started working with them full-time again as the head of training.

JOANNE KING: That's proof that you've got that passion, which is why the program has been so successful because you've been there. You've experienced it. You're bringing back that knowledge, and you're creating it and reforming it into your way of what you see is best fit for the dancers of today. Because obviously, things change over time. But from your experience and the experience of the students, to create that valuable program--

LINDA: Yeah. It's pretty exciting.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. It's really nice.

LINDA: Before my contemporary career, I was Australian Ballet, Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Portugal. So, I was a ballet dancer. And it's really interesting how I'm creating-- as much as I absolutely, passionately love ballet, I just see the culture that I need to delve into and find out more about. The contemporary world accepts me more. And there's a lot of things I'd probably want to change.

JOANNE KING: That leads me to ask. What jobs did you have prior to Sydney Dance Company that provided you with skills and experience to complete your current role? So, above and beyond, I guess, being a dancer yourself, what are some other aspects that have given you those skills to confidently develop the program into what it is today?

LINDA: Really interesting enough, it's-- at high school, I loved the English language.


LINDA: And I loved typing. So, I'm a touch typer.


LINDA: And then you have a passion for something. You just type what you think. So, I think really getting those administration skills-- so I worked a lot in the office. I just did courses, Excel courses, computer courses, just because I had-- wanted to have a voice in the industry. So, it's really great to have young people staying at school and able to still dance. Actually, it was one of the philosophies that I started the program going 18 years and over, for that reason.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Fantastic.

LINDA: And of course, I do understand-- my son left school early to do carpentry through COVID. So, I do know that school may not be for everyone. But if we can encourage schools to be really inclusive with diversity and encourage them to keep going and exploring what else there is in their life than just their art form or their passion, that's really important.

JOANNE KING: Well, as an educator myself, it's really nice to hear you speak so fondly of the importance of education.

LINDA: Yeah.

JOANNE KING: Like you say, it's not for everybody. But if you can see through to the end of Year 12, it definitely has its benefits.

LINDA: Absolutely.


LINDA: And we're not in a rush.


LINDA: We can have dance careers and complete Year 12. So, yes, I'm a big one on that one as well. My other skills were really in that business management. Going from a dancer into the administration in an arts company, in a dance company, made me see a little bit of the difference that we were missing out as dancers. So, I'm really quite passionate about changing the culture and the language around dancers and bringing the dancers back up to understand a little bit more about the big organisation. So, that's one of my passions.

And then went straight back into teaching, I think, after my career. Actually, mid-career, I studied Pilates. The reason why I studied Pilates was a few injuries I had, one of them being through incorrect training. And definitely I don't have the dancer's body.


LINDA: So, that's why I'm very into inclusivity. I had 43 and a half degree turnout for the dancers out there. And I had a ballet career. And you can, too.


LINDA: However, in my day, hopefully they don't do it now, but you really had to pick that pretty picture of a super fifth or the heel toe, heel toe. And it's not effective with technique. On stage, I was doing principal roles: 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Coppélia', 'La Fille mal gardée'. A lot of principal roles.

You have to work to your ability and dance from your heart. And technique is not turnout. Technique is technique. Turnout is turnout. Of course, the ability to not dance parallel is actually really helpful. So, yes, of course we need turnout.

But I became injured. I had knee and hip injuries from forcing my turnout and really having the wrong thought and understanding of turnout and what it was. Because I had teachers that wanted me to look a certain way.

So, basically, through injuries, I went to a lot of physiotherapists and Pilates and did a lot of Pilates through my whole career. That kept me strong and able to work through that understanding of, what is turnout? What is technique?

Then I went on to train as a Pilates instructor and worked in a Pilates centre. So, that was really great. And then I just got obsessed by understanding more about the body, and whether that was psychologically or physically. So, I would do 4-day workshops on the psoas muscle.

JOANNE KING: Oh, wow. Yeah.

LINDA: And then I was-- and then I got into mindfulness. So, I did practise mindfulness. I'm not a mindfulness teacher, but I did practise a lot myself, and understood, read a lot of books about it to really hone in about specifically what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we're doing it. And that's what helped me then go to-- my first teaching ballet class was at Newtown High School, actually.


LINDA: And it was the first class I taught the way I was taught. It was only one class. And then it shocked me. And I went, I've really got to teach differently because I want to teach my way.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. So, Alex, congratulations on making it into the PPY program.

ALEX: Thank you.

JOANNE KING: First of all, what training did you complete before auditioning for the PPY program?

ALEX: So, of course, as a dancer, I had my studio training. And I studied dance at school as a subject. And then, of course, I was in the Arts Unit State Dance Ensemble for 8 years.

JOANNE KING: Wow. That's so fantastic.

ALEX: Yeah.

JOANNE KING: And did that provide you with a good grounding of knowledge to be able to pursue this as a career? Or did you find that you still had a lot to develop once you got into the Pre-Professional Year?

ALEX: I still think I have a lot to develop. And you never stop learning, no matter how old you are. But I do think the Arts Unit did really give me opportunities into the contemporary dance world and the commercial dance world as well with the different opportunities they give you, from the State Dance Festival to Schools Spec. So, yeah, I think it created opportunities for me.

JOANNE KING: Oh, that's great to hear. We certainly loved having you in the program. Continuing on from that, what was the audition process like to audition for the Pre-Professional Year at Sydney Dance Company?

ALEX: Yeah. So, I applied online. And with the online application, you do a couple videos of ballet, improv, contemporary. And you can actually choose whatever style you want in one of the videos, so hip hop, tap, whatever you wanted to do. I did contemporary just because I believe it's my strongest style.

And then after that, you would get a callback. And then the callback was at the Sydney Dance Company studios, where we did a class. And yeah, pretty simple audition. I mean, not simple the class, but--

JOANNE KING: But the process itself was simple?

ALEX: Yeah. It's pretty standard.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. And Linda, was the process always an online audition to begin, and then go into the live audition?

LINDA: Yes, absolutely. And thanks for having us, actually.

JOANNE KING: No, you're welcome.

LINDA: It's nice to be here chatting about it all. And we love having Alex in the program. And yes, in the audition-- she did a very good addition, by the way.

And to be-- to do a very good audition, yes, it really is just being about-- showing those videos to start with and being yourself in the videos because we are really looking for different artists, and understanding through the video first is a really important aspect of the audition process. And yes, we always do those videos first because then we've got the videos to go back to.

JOANNE KING: Ah. That's right.

LINDA: It is very strange to say. It is very random doing these sort of auditions and picking the right people to get together and spend the year together. It's really quite difficult.


LINDA: I trust my intuition a lot and look for something completely different in the people that we choose, so then we can have a diverse range of different techniques, and abilities, and creative expression in the individuals. So, yes, we do that process every year. It's the same process since day 1, which was 10 years ago.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. I guess that provides them with that comfort, too, being a video first, to be able to show their strength.


JOANNE KING: And then in that live audition, it's a bit more out of their comfort zone, I would imagine, for a lot of people. Some might have strengths in video. Some might have strengths in live. And it gives them that equal opportunity.

LINDA: It is. It does. And the audition is a workshop, basically. So, we do aspects of the course in the 2 hours that you come into the studio and try and make it as comfortable as possible and as more creative. Of course, improvisation will be in there, or task work, a bit of repertoire to learn, which is fun.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Great.

LINDA: A little bit of ballet and contemporary. So, hopefully it was fun. Alex, was it?

ALEX: Yeah. It was all right. Yeah. I think I prefer live auditions to video auditions just because in live, it's like you've got that one chance to show yourself. And I think that's a better preparation for becoming a dancer than maybe retaking videos over and over again if--

JOANNE KING: That's very true.

ALEX: --you don't feel happy with it.

LINDA: Yes. Good point.

JOANNE KING: That's great advice, really.

LINDA: It is good advice. And my advice on that one, then, is just, don't look at the videos. Tape them and send them through because--


--we don't judge the videos. We can tell it easily if you're going to go to the next round. It's more just, show us. We've got them on file, mainly. So, yeah, good point.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. So, I know in our programs at the Arts Unit, we do a lot of tasking with our tutors. But I'm sure there might be some students that come in and have never heard of tasking or had much experience in improvisation. You obviously take all that into account and try and get the best out of the students when they do that audition process.

LINDA: Yeah. It's more play, really, and non-judgement from even the panel. I know we have to actually choose in the end. But it really is to see if we can show some of their bravery and courage in those workshops, too, and just a little bit of curiosity.

So, then if you see someone curious, you know that's going to be nice and easy to work with. And they're going to enjoy it. Because we want people to come to the course that want to be in the course and want to enjoy the course.

JOANNE KING: But I think you need to be quite open-minded. That's going to get the best result, isn't it?

LINDA: In life, yes.

JOANNE KING: Yes. So, you mentioned that you're looking for that individual. How do you, I guess, create that company?

Are you looking for a group that are going to form an ensemble? Are you purely looking for individuals? What's your main focus with the PPY program?

LINDA: I think it's important to know that you will always have to work with the individual. So, if we have 25 people in the course, we wish the course to be inclusive with diversity. We need the people to be-- we need to look after the individual.

We need to know the individual. And we don't need to know them well. We just know that you can't just create a great group of people that are going to work together because it's like, looking after the individual will help them be kind and compassionate in the collaborative environment because every session is collaborative. And helping the young student to know that everyone is coming from a different background, they'll be needing to work together, and not necessarily having to like each other because we're all trying to like ourselves-- yeah, so it's very important to know that, yes, definitely we're looking for the individual, knowing that they'll have to work in a collaborative environment, which is the ensemble that we might talk about.


LINDA: And it's really important in any ensemble, whether you work for a big organisation or a small organisation, that we just need to be kind, and compassionate, and understanding, or acceptance of not needing to understand everything about it.

JOANNE KING: Which is in life, really, Isn't it? across the board. In terms of the dancer's career, they may go on to be an individual artist. But they're still going to have to collaborate with production crew, with a whole range of people that are going to assist them in their production or their performances.

LINDA: Yes. It's very-- they're independent dancers. It's like, well, you'll always be collaborative.

JOANNE KING: That's right. Yeah.

LINDA: I'm not sure how independent that we really need to be. I think-- reach out there and ask people about what the industry is. Find people to work with. And they're the skills that I find is important to develop, and the confidence to be yourself.

JOANNE KING: An individual creative artist, but with the ability to work as a team.


JOANNE KING: You mentioned that the PPY program is in its 10th year. Congratulations.

LINDA: It is.

JOANNE KING: I do believe that you developed this program from the ground up.

LINDA: I did. I can't believe it's 10 years ago. And it's actually my birthday today.

JOANNE KING: Yes. Happy birthday.

LINDA: Thank you.

JOANNE KING: A double celebration.

LINDA: I'm 10 years older as well.


So, it's a bit scary to think that-- sometimes I think, it's only 10 years ago. And other times, I'm like, whoa. It's 10 years ago. The way it came into fruition was the need to support young dancers looking for work to work in this collaborative, compassionate way to find their own self as an artist. And that's what Rafael Bonachela was very interested in.

And we got drawn together. He was already thinking about wanting a full-time course. I was already writing about a full-time course, being passionate about what's missing in-- what was missing in my training as a classical ballet dancer, and, how can you feel good about yourself in a very creative aspect of this working together in the industry?

So, we got together. And I basically said, here's what I think. Please let me apply for the job. And it happened within 6 months of--

JOANNE KING: Wow. That's fantastic.

LINDA: --the meeting. And the design of the program hasn't really changed. The contemporary nature of it changes every year so we're keeping it valid and relevant for each year of what we're learning, as well as the students are learning. But it's exciting to know that something's happening. Something's shifting in the landscape of contemporary dance industry, and we're very excited to be part of it.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. I think the results speak for themselves, the fact that it has gone on for 10 years and it's grown and developed to have 2 PPY groups. Do you want to talk about the difference between those 2--


JOANNE KING: --ensembles?

LINDA: For sure. So, still creating a year experience. The 2 years are very different. The reason why we did develop the 2 programs in the end was, after one year, people felt ready to explore more with the mindset they had.

They could easily go to the industry after that mindset. Some of the younger participants were interested in having another year, so we created the articulation into advanced diploma anyway, which is more in line with a university. So, we did that within one cohort because we only had the space for one studio. Now we have a new, renovated studio space.

JOANNE KING: That's so beautiful. Yes. We're here today.

LINDA: The Arts Precinct here. And as soon as we had that extra studio, I went, let's see if we can have 2 cohorts. And we wrote up another business case for the board, and they agreed. And I feel it's worked really well, separating them as well now and creating a slightly different second year with more long-term choreographic developments, which is challenging for the young person who's come from full-time.


LINDA: You're not going to get class, after class, after class. You'll be sinking in to develop over 4 weeks, full-time with the choreographer.

JOANNE KING: Fantastic. Yeah. Wow. That's so good. And, I guess, touching on that, how many applicants do you have usually apply for each of those ensembles?

LINDA: Yes. Because we can have dancers coming after a classical ballet career, or they've had some time off, or they've been-- they've studied tertiary education and would like to come and work with choreographers on a more deep level. They do apply for just the second year course.


LINDA: We get hundreds.


LINDA: So, it's challenging.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. And do you try and find a balance between those students who have done the first year progressing into the second year, and enabling others to apply? Or it's simply just a-- at face value--

LINDA: No, it--

JOANNE KING: --everyone's treated, sort of--

LINDA: Equally, yes.

JOANNE KING: --equally, in a way?

LINDA: So, If you-- age-- you've just left high school, you get to go into the first year.


LINDA: And that articulates into the second year quite nicely. So, we do have most of our first years going into second year, and then it's only the 4 or 5 people coming from a different career and wanting to do contemporary or the tertiary. It's great having them in.

JOANNE KING: Fresh ideas, and--

LINDA: Fresh ideas. Sometimes I wish-- it'd be nice if they had the first year under their belt. But again, the diversity of it lends itself to having a really great opportunity for collaboration.

JOANNE KING: Alex, I'll throw to you. Being a member of the Pre-Professional Year, you obviously have to work effectively as an ensemble and have strong relationships, like we spoke about. So, yes, you're an individual artist. But you need to have that ability to collaborate, get along, whether it be just the respect or be friends with other ensemble members.

How did you build this relationship or rapport with the members of the PPY program when you first started, I guess, through to now? You can talk beyond that. But from the start of the year through to now, which are in May--

ALEX: Yeah. Well, I think the first week of PPY was really crucial and important. I think not knowing many people, and people coming from interstate and having different backgrounds, and training, and experiences in the dance industry-- I think that first week, when we all started doing classes together-- and we had Omer in our first week. He was a course coordinator back then.

He really helped all of us get to know each other, and not in a generic way, where we're like, my name is Blah. My favourite colour is plum. My favourite dance style is this. I think it was a much deeper connection and experience of getting to know everyone in that first week. And I think that's extended all the way to now because I think the course has taught a lot of us, including me, I think, that it's much better to appreciate each other, and how you dance, and what your--

JOANNE KING: Differences are.

ALEX: Yeah. And I think-- because I feel like coming from maybe a competition background, the culture's very judgmental. But I think coming here, it's made me so happy to just look at someone and go, wow. I love the way that they move. And then it's also made myself be like, no one's judging me. They're focusing on themselves at the same time as working together and appreciating each other.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Nice. So, what kind of-- if it wasn't a-- hi, I'm Alex. My favourite colour is blue. What kind of tasks did Omer do with you to develop that strong, because it sounds really beautiful, that strong relationship?

ALEX: Well, we did introduce our names and where we were from. And I love that people were not just from Sydney. They were from all over Australia, which I thought was really amazing that they moved as well from their homes. And we did a lot of group improv and a lot of contact improv as well, which is really daunting when you've just met someone and you're now touching them and you're moving together.

But I think you put aside the fact you don't know them and you just think, oh, we're both here for the same reason. We just love to dance. And we get to experience that growth together coming into this new.

JOANNE KING: For people listening who don't understand what contact improvisation is, could you give a really brief summary of what it is?

ALEX: Yeah. So, improvisation is just moving the way you feel, just the first thing that comes to mind. You don't really have to think about it much, just going through your body.

And then the contact part is when you're connecting with other people doing that improv. And that is quite scary because you don't know what you're doing. They don't know what they're doing.


ALEX: But--

JOANNE KING: Responding to their movement. Yeah.

ALEX: You just respond to each other. And I think that really helped with getting to know each other.

JOANNE KING: Definitely. Oh, that sounds really lovely. Do you want to talk about what your daily schedule is like?

ALEX: Yeah. So, usually, our first class is something really nice to start the day, whether it's ballet, or yoga, or Pilates. And I really enjoy that easing into the day because you get warmed up. It's nothing too high intensity straight away, which--

JOANNE KING: That's important.

ALEX: --that's not great to do that straight away. First thing in the morning, not great. So, I really enjoy that.

And then usually second class might be some technique classes, whether it's contemporary, or-- we're doing Cunningham technique and Horton technique recently. And afternoon, usually a guest teacher or choreographer. This week, we have Charmaine for choreographic development. So, that's very exciting.

JOANNE KING: Beautiful.

ALEX: So, yeah. There are days that are much tougher on your body, you can tell, than other days. But I think the course does a really good job of not just rehabilitation with injuries, but also reviving and replenishing your body and your needs with extra Pilates classes-- or we did a mindfulness session yesterday, which was really helpful in that midterm.

Not all of us are tired. Some of us are tired. It just depends. And I think that really helps with your mentality. Because I think your physicality is important. But if your mentality is not there, then it's hard.

JOANNE KING: Linda, is there any support around nourishment of the body?

LINDA: Yeah.

JOANNE KING: So, you've mentioned the mindfulness.

LINDA: We do a lot of resilience, and we have a psychologist that we worked with. And everyone gets-- staff and students get free psychological coaching and counselling through Dr. Sally Grey that we work with. She also comes and delivers workshops that talks about micro-stresses.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Great.

LINDA: And in that aspect of that is digestion. So, usually, if there's micro-stresses in your training, you may not feel like eating. And I know a lot of dancers suffer that and have stomach cramps.

So, we address it in a very different way. We had one lecture on dancers don't diet. So, it's really important, I feel, that it's not about, you need to eat this and you need to eat that. It's more about knowing what is affecting your digestion.

Really important to know that we are physical beings, whether you're training as a carpenter-- so you also need nutrition if you're a carpenter or a dancer. However, dancers have that inherent culture that looks at that diet culture. So, this is where we're really trying to shift that, we don't need to have nutrition. There's so much information on nutrition out there.

We more study the mental health first aid, so that mental health first aid to someone who's struggling with stomach issues, or digestion, or-- then it's getting them-- the first aid is getting them to someone that can help them individually. So, we don't just treat it as a blanket case that you have to eat this and have to do that, and, this is when you eat. We give the students a lot of breaks. And we have a whole hour for lunch. I think it's very important as a dancer in a company or in a studio to know that we need longer for lunch because we have to eat, socialise, digest.

JOANNE KING: That's right. Yes.

LINDA: Then we need that-- another 10 more minutes to know that we have to get our body back to rehearsal mode.


LINDA: So, yeah, I think that's a really interesting one.

JOANNE KING: You've definitely got it all covered. I think that holistic person comes out of this program, which is really beautiful.

LINDA: Thank you.

JOANNE KING: Linda, obviously, throughout the course, you have a lot to do with the students. And you've formed a strong rapport with them. You've mentioned building that ensemble as an individual and also working collaboratively as a group within the ensemble. But you as yourself, as one of the educators, how do you build trust and rapport with the students to gain the best from them?

LINDA: Great question. Thank you. I work on-- trust in myself is very important, not-- and that mindfulness, not judge those that judge you.

So, looking at a director, or a teacher, or a choreographer, knowing that we hold an inherent power imbalance in the studio-- it's something to always be mindful of, looking at yourself as a leader, even if you're insecure in teaching the class or insecure in your own choreography. I manage the choreographers in that same way to help them find they can have the confidence in themselves to fail, to just know that it's a process.

JOANNE KING: We're all consistently learning, aren't we?

LINDA: We are. Yeah, so building that rapport with the students as such is-- I basically just communicate my honest truth with the students in a very professional manner. So, I'm not professional in meaning I have to treat them like I'm the boss.

I'm treating them like I do even my family, making sure I don't make things personal, watching my language, making sure my language is mindful, coaching the skill, not the person. And in doing so, the person just separates from what we're doing in the studio. And we don't make and take things personal. So, therefore, as a group, we end up knowing that we're developing together, even myself as a director in the program. And that rapport then just creates respect and trust.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Nice. I guess that consistency creates that understanding as well, too. They know where they stand. They're not constantly guessing.

LINDA: That's right. You don't want to be pleasing the teacher. Getting that co-dependency out of the day is really important. And I feel that's across the whole program, from closing the curtains, not having the mirror, finding your internal position of control within yourself. That changes because you're learning. And then it just creates a nice atmosphere that any one of us can feel comfortable saying hello, or saying, I don't feel well today--

JOANNE KING: beautiful.

LINDA: --or, I'm tired today. Yes. I can't make class. I'm coming in after class because I've had a hard night. And it's inclusive and it just brings about a really healthy work environment that's professional.

JOANNE KING: Yeah, lovely. That's setting them up for the future as well. Yes. How do you decide, Linda, on the teaching artists who work with the PPY students throughout the year?

LINDA: The design of the program is really getting the industry specialists to come in and give us their experience of the industry as it is for them today, so keeping it contemporary with those industry specialists. And the artistic staff of the Pre-Professional Year are able to contextualise that into really healthy learning for the young artists. Deciding on those teaching artists and guest choreographers can be varied.

So, of course, I'll go to the ones that I feel the most learning will come about. Or we'll go to the top and see where they land. We often get a lot of choreographers come to us and ask if they can work with us. And then it's just such a great mind map of scheduling the choreographers to come in at the right time for the students' growth.

JOANNE KING: Sure. Sure. Are they often ex-PPY students?

LINDA: Look, they are now after 10 years, which is great. Not so often. They're all still performing and working in the industry, and it's just-- some of them have a practice that they're looking at, an improvisation practice or a technique practice.

Others have really gone to the choreographic career. So, not so much. But we do get so many amazing choreographers that want to work with us.

Of course, we're going to bring them in and see what that experience is. And all experience is valuable, whether they've come from-- whether it's not so liked, the experience, we'll learn from that. And then the week after, we'll get another choreographer coming in and understand it a little bit more.

And that really shifts or helps us look at the culture that we want to work with. So, if you've got someone that's a little bit more old-school or someone new-school, you'll go, oh, that's really interesting. I don't react to that behaviour anymore because I know it's only for that week. And then I'll get someone else and go, yes, this is the way I want to work.

JOANNE KING: So, it changes weekly, then?

LINDA: It nearly changes weekly in the first term for the first-year students.

JOANNE KING: OK. And both international and Australian artists?

LINDA: Yes. Yeah.

JOANNE KING: Fantastic. What an experience. I guess one more question. What piece of advice would you give aspiring dancers who are listening today?

ALEX: When you think-- aspire to be dancers, it's very like, I'm going to become a professional dancer in a company or I'm going to be on tour with someone. I think anyone can be a dancer.


ALEX: You don't have to label it with, because I've done this, it makes me a dancer. And I think if you enjoy it and you find something that you love to do and you work hard at it and continue that passion, then I think you'll be fine.

JOANNE KING: Yeah. Go for it.

ALEX: Yeah.

JOANNE KING: That's great advice.


LINDA: Well, I'd probably just say, if you're interested in it, go for it. But you have to make sure you're interested in it. Sometimes, just because we're great dancers or we've been dancing since we were 3-- know that it's just fun and a way to understand your world.

It's not everything. You have to have a-- you have to be a person. You have to want to read books. You want to do sport. You want to communicate with your friends and the family. And you want to move.

And what is dance? Basically, we're moving and we're understanding a technique to move in and then explore a reason to move, which is to create a story or to-- an intent, or an understanding, or to produce some art. So, yeah. If you're curious, come along.

JOANNE KING: Oh, I love that. It's so beautiful. It's been so lovely speaking to both of you. Thank you for giving up your time today to speak with us.

And yeah, I really look forward to watching the program develop. Being in its 10th year, I'm sure you've got plenty of plans for it for the future. And we look forward to seeing what happens. And all the best for your future, Alex, in whatever you decide to pursue.

ALEX: Thank you so much.

LINDA: Thanks for having us.

JOANNE KING: No worries. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

LINDA: Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: For more information on our programs, explore our website at Background music licensed by Envato Elements. Copyright, State of NSW (Department of Education), 2023.

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