Angela Hamilton

Duration: 24:59

Audio transcript – Angela Hamilton

In this episode, we chatted with Angela Hamilton, tutor for the 2023 NSW Public Schools Senior Dance Ensemble. The hosts, Madi and Duke, are both students of the NSW Public School Senior Dance Ensemble.

Angela completed her tertiary dance training with Brent Street Studios, the National Theatre Ballet School and Ev & Bow. Angela has a wealth of experience as a performer and choreographer, having worked across Australia, Europe, the UK and the USA. She founded ‘Twisted Element’, an immersive and interactive dance theatre company and 'Wild Hearts Youth Dance Company’.

This is a chance to learn more about Angela’s experience in the industry and what it’s like working with the fabulous NSW Public Schools Dance Ensemble. Thanks for tuning in to this episode.

Angela Hamilton
Angela Hamilton – dance tutor
Madison Pintley
Madison Pintley – host
Duke Garnsey
Duke Garnsey – host
Back to:

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 @ The Arts Unit.

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JOANNE KING: My name is Joanne King, and I am the dance performance officer at the Arts Unit for the NSW Department of Education. This episode, we chatted to Angela Hamilton, tutor for the NSW Public Schools Senior Dance Ensemble in 2023. The hosts, Madi and Duke, are both students from the NSW Public Schools Senior Dance Ensemble.

Angela completed her tertiary training with Brent Street Studios, the National Theatre Ballet School and Ev & Bow. Angela has a wealth of experience as a performer, choreographer, and having worked across Australia, Europe, the UK and the USA.

She is the founder of Twisted Element, an immersive and interactive dance theatre company, and Wild Hearts Youth Dance Company. This is a chance to learn more about Angela's experience in the industry and what it's like working with the NSW Public Schools Dance Ensemble. Thanks for tuning in to this episode.

MADISON PINTLEY: Hi. I'm Madi, and I attend Cronulla High School.

DUKE GARNSEY: And hi. I'm Duke, and I also attend Cronulla High School, and today, we're here interviewing one of our state senior tutors, Angela.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Hi, guys. Thanks for having me on your podcast.

MADISON PINTLEY: We have a few rapid-fire questions to start with. So I'm just going to go really quick. One, what's your favourite dance genre?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Contemporary.

MADISON PINTLEY: Favourite food?


MADISON PINTLEY: Biggest pet peeve?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Uh, lateness.



MADISON PINTLEY: What is your most prized possession?


MADISON PINTLEY: Favourite subject in school, other than dance?


MADISON PINTLEY: Cheeky guilty pleasure?


DUKE GARNSEY: And we'll end with the last one. What's your most inspirational quote you live by?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Oh. There's no competition for your true purpose.

DUKE GARNSEY: Ooh, that's a good one. So we'll start with, what do you enjoy most about working with the NSW Senior Ensemble?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I love that we have such amazing dancers that come into the program. So I feel like that's a real privilege for me as a teacher and a choreographer. So I really have a lot of scope creatively, and I also find it very inspiring working with the talent because I get to see the dancers really, really grow because they work very hard comparatively to, maybe, teaching at a studio or something like that.

MADISON PINTLEY: Well, speaking of inspiring, who inspired you to dance as a young child?

ANGELA HAMILTON: It was actually my friend, Cleo. She was forced to be my buddy when I was new at school up in Byron. Yeah, she hated that she was assigned to be my buddy, but we ended up being best friends because she was a crazy, kooky, little creative kid, and so we just hit it off, and she did a lot of dancing. She's an actress in Hollywood now.


ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, and so we used to just make up dances every day after school, on the weekends, and then, finally, I think, after about a year, her mum said to my mum, 'I think you need to enrol Angela in dance lessons.'

MADISON PINTLEY: She has too much energy.

DUKE GARNSEY: That's funny. Speaking of your dance journey beginning in Byron, what makes you continue your passion for dancing today?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I just love it. I love everything about it. I think it's the most beautiful form of expression. There's no-- you don't need anything. All you need is your body, and it's based on the most primal form of language, which is body language, and that's where dance evolves from, and I think that's so powerful.

MADISON PINTLEY: Do you ever find yourself getting stuck, though, with creativity?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah. Not so much these days. I think when I was starting out, I did, and I would get nervous and feel pressure, as though the dancers are judging me for being stuck. But I think once I let go of that, I would just be OK with the stuck moment and then move through it more quickly.

MADISON PINTLEY: It's very cool watching in class when we're just like sometimes--

ANGELA HAMILTON: When I just stare into space.

MADISON PINTLEY: And then the next minute, it's something crazy that's so cool.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, because the whole thing is happening in my mind.

DUKE GARNSEY: So although there's heaps of challenges, I'm sure you've had many memorable moments. So what are some of the most memorable moments in your dance career, either as a choreographer or that you've been in?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I would say, definitely, the most memorable moments as a choreographer, especially when I came back from overseas and relaunched my company to be an immersive interactive company and with all of my best friends, we created 'Opus'.

And I think the moment seeing that being performed, as the lights were going down and seeing all the visuals coming to life, was like-- I remember sitting there, and my whole body was shaking, and I was like, 'Far out. This is incredible.'

DUKE GARNSEY: Well, what was--

MADISON PINTLEY: And we created this.

DUKE GARNSEY: That's so cool. What was it about?

ANGELA HAMILTON: 'Opus' was about many things, but it was kind of like a journey through imagined futuristic realities.

DUKE GARNSEY: That's cool.

ANGELA HAMILTON: I don't know how else to explain it.

MADISON PINTLEY: Did you always know you wanted to go down that path in dance?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yes. Yeah, as soon as I started dancing, I think-- it was one or 2 years in-- I'm like, 'I want to be a choreographer and have my own company.' Well, I just stuck to it.

MADISON PINTLEY: How did you get to there? What connections did you have to make?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Oh, it's a long journey, and I don't think we have time. But it was a difficult journey.

MADISON PINTLEY: It's a hard one.

ANGELA HAMILTON: You kind of just need to find your own way. There's no set map.

DUKE GARNSEY: See what works for you.

ANGELA HAMILTON: And there definitely wasn't a map for what I'm doing now. So there was a lot of trials and going backwards and going forward and sideways, and you just-- you get there in the end.

MADISON PINTLEY: What was your biggest struggle with being a dance choreographer?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I think, maybe, having-- like, I believe in me, and I believe in the work, but then getting it to click with everyone on the outside, which--

DUKE GARNSEY: Getting everyone to have the same idea.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, which I think they do now. But it's sort of-- there was definitely a transition period there where it was like, people were like, 'Oh, what is that? Oh, that's weird.' But now, they're like, 'Wow, this is awesome!'

DUKE GARNSEY: Well, where do you find inspiration for these works? It's definitely hard as a choreographer, picking up and finding many ideas. Where do you find inspiration?

ANGELA HAMILTON: That's a good question, and for me, it's, I think, from within, usually, is the starting point. It'll be some kind of emotional journey or experience that is the seed of it, and then, I'll intuitively, then, be drawn to different images, ideas, scenes kind of thing, and then it just pieces together like a puzzle over a long period of time.

MADISON PINTLEY: Is that-- because our dance this year, isn't that about your work?


ANGELA HAMILTON: No. So your piece is actually about my office job.

MADISON PINTLEY: Yeah, but it's cool.

DUKE GARNSEY: That's cool.

ANGELA HAMILTON: It's about the feeling of being stuck in the grind and a slave to the modern world of having to do something just in order to make money, even if you don't like it.

MADISON PINTLEY: It's very commercial. It's fun to dance.

DUKE GARNSEY: It's cool. It's a cool concept and idea.


DUKE GARNSEY: So what skills have you actually learnt as a dancer which you think make yourself a good choreographer?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I would say, when I did my year of full time at Edinburgh with training with Sarah Boulter, she really taught me to push everything further, so not only physically, like when we were pushing ourselves training in the studio.

She was always encouraging us, OK, like, 'How can you get deeper? How can you stretch further? How can you be more fluid? How can you abstract that more?' I feel like I really took that from her, and I've applied that to my teaching and my choreography.

MADISON PINTLEY: So, did you do full time after school?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I did-- yeah, I did a few different full-time courses. I did ballet straight after school, and then I went on, and I did more ballet and then I did Edinburgh when I was 24, actually.


DUKE GARNSEY: Well, other than Sarah Boulter, who are other choreographers within the dance industry you grasp movement inspiration from, or different ideas?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I wouldn't say that I have intentionally grasped movement from any particular choreographer. But apparently, some of my choreography looks a bit like Akram Khan, with all the hand gestures. He does a lot of that fast hand gesture stuff. But I've never actually seen one of his shows. I do like his work, though.

And then another one would be, probably, Hofesh Shechter, his work, 'Grand--' what was it? What was it called? It was in Sydney, 2020, when all the fires were happening. 'Grand Finale', I think it's called, and I literally could not speak for 2 days. I was just like [gasps]. [laughs] Just like-- it was so amazing, and I love him and some of the other incredible Israeli choreographers who really make powerful, guttural, very human kind of work.

DUKE GARNSEY: Yeah. Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you create-- do you wish to create more innovative pieces?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yes. [laughs] 100%.

DUKE GARNSEY: Do you also want to continue teaching and sharing your skills with others?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yes, always. Yeah, I see myself as a teacher, definitely, and I want to keep pushing my work so that I'm a world-famous immersive interactive dance theatre producer.

MADISON PINTLEY: Do you see yourself still living here in Australia or going overseas?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I would love to go overseas. I saw another company in New York, 'Fuerza Bruta'. They have this incredible immersive show, and it's been there in residence in New York City for 10 years. It is so popular, and that was, actually, the show that really made me click that I wanted to make immersive work.


ANGELA HAMILTON: So I just think of 'Fuerza Bruta'. I'm like, 'That's what I want.'

MADISON PINTLEY: That's your goal.

ANGELA HAMILTON: I want a 10-year residency in New York.

DUKE GARNSEY: You want to be that person.


MADISON PINTLEY: As a dancer or a choreographer?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I want to-- it's going to be Twisted Element in residency in Times Square. No, I don't know if it was Times Square. I can't remember.

MADISON PINTLEY: So we'll be seeing your head in New York.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, definitely.

MADISON PINTLEY: What tools do you use to create choreography, or do you just use your creativity?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Well, as you guys know, a lot of tasking. I love tasking, just because I feel like to make more complex and layered and nuanced choreography, the tasking, as in using many, many different brains, can really make that come to life, whereas with one brain, it's hard to get so many layers in and so many different ideas.

DUKE GARNSEY: And as a dancer, just feel connected to the piece, as well.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Exactly. Do you guys feel connected to the piece?


DUKE GARNSEY: Yeah, definitely.

MADISON PINTLEY: I feel proud to know some of the stuff in there.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, exactly. So you're all in there.

DUKE GARNSEY: And we feel it like--

ANGELA HAMILTON: The whole thing is everybody, a part of you.

DUKE GARNSEY: Feeling like we couldn't relate to the piece more, and it's more individual, and we can really show how we feel because--


MADISON PINTLEY: Yeah. Especially the first week we did the task, we were all very rusty in the basic movements, and then the second week, we came back, and we were bouncing off each other, and that was cool.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, definitely.

DUKE GARNSEY: Because you pick up off each other's vibe, as well. You really pace--

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, for sure.

DUKE GARNSEY: And we learn off each other, as well. We find new ideas from you, as well as our peers.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah. I think it's a real gift to the students to be really exposed to tasking. Because that's what you do when you're a professional. In most companies, most projects with most contemporary choreographers, you're going to be tasking all the time. That's what they want. So if you're really good at tasking, you're already halfway there.

DUKE GARNSEY: When were you first introduced to tasking? Did you just find that it worked well for you?

ANGELA HAMILTON: That's a really good question, and I'm not sure of the answer. When was I first introduced to tasking? Gosh, I don't know. I think early on, in auditions as a young dancer after graduating, and that's when I got the shock of my life because I had not been trained in any of that stuff. I had no improv training--

MADISON PINTLEY: It's not easy.

ANGELA HAMILTON: --no tasking training.

DUKE GARNSEY: No, it's not easy.

ANGELA HAMILTON: And then I went to these auditions for companies all around Europe, and I had no idea what I was doing. I had no skills, and it was really shocking for me, and it was very defeating. So I wish that I had been given those tools at your age.

DUKE GARNSEY: Do you believe that tasking also helps us with our improvisation skills, too?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Definitely. The 2 feed each other.

MADISON PINTLEY: You spoke a little bit about Europe there. Did you go over to Europe?



Yeah. So when I finished my ballet training, I went to Europe, and I had no idea what I was doing. I had no contemporary training. I was a little bunhead, and I was like, 'I'm going to go and audition for Nederlands Dans Theatre' and all this stuff.

I just had no idea what I was doing. I had no guidance. So I did all that. It was a great experience. But yeah, I quickly realised that I was not equipped yet to be in the contemporary dance world.

DUKE GARNSEY: But do you think that changed you, those setbacks? Do you think that you've grown as an individual?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I think it actually chipped at my confidence a little bit, and that's kind of been a little bit there throughout my journey. But I've actually recently processed those things emotionally and let them go. Sometimes those things do stick with you, even though you're not consciously aware of it, which is a shame.

But I think we didn't have those tools for coping back then. Mental health and all that kind of thing was a bit more taboo. But I think now if you guys were to go on a journey like that and have setbacks, I think you'd have a lot better tools to deal with rejection and things like that.

DUKE GARNSEY: What's the biggest setback you have had happen to you?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I feel like that was a big one, but then it made me more determined, and I've had a few incidences like that through my life. So the first major one was when I was a teenager, and I was really obsessed with dance, doing a lot of dance, and then I got very, very sick and had meningococcal disease, and I nearly went blind. I nearly lost my leg. They told me I wasn't going to live. It was hectic. Yeah, it was hectic.

And then, when I came out of it, I just remember saying to myself, 'You are meant to do something in this world,' and from that day, I was so absolutely razor sharp determined. So I feel like that drove me, and then the audition experience, that kind of-- it set me back, but then it made me more determined again.

MADISON PINTLEY: Like things are meant to be.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, I guess-- I guess so, or just--

DUKE GARNSEY: A blessing in disguise.


DUKE GARNSEY: Because dancers, too, you could really express yourself, even your experiences, and you could really show your strengths and things that you've learnt through different experiences. Whether it was a sickness, illness, or whether it's a setback, you can really dance-- you can really express yourself.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Yeah, definitely.

MADISON PINTLEY: Do you recommend anything for anyone that's, maybe, going through struggles at the moment through dance, like setbacks or anything?

ANGELA HAMILTON: Gosh. I think the biggest thing, and the biggest thing that I've learned in the past couple of years, is really embracing your emotions, so not running away from yourself, and I think dance has a really powerful place in that.

Because another thing I've learned-- fact-- trauma, we actually store in the body. So dance can be very healing in your body, somatic movement. So, yeah, hot like embracing your emotions, accepting your emotions without judgement and then moving and letting tension and emotion release.

DUKE GARNSEY: That whole idea of expressing yourself with no judgement, that's what really helps everyone, really. Dance is one of those things that you can really use any experience and really share it through movement, which is really exciting.

ANGELA HAMILTON: It is exciting, isn't it?

MADISON PINTLEY: You let us do that a lot in your class, as well. I feel free.

ANGELA HAMILTON: Oh, that's great. What do you guys want to do?

MADISON PINTLEY: I have no clue. There's so many different paths, because being a choreographer sounds really cool, but then I've always dreamed of being in a company one day, like Sydney Dance Company or something.


MADISON PINTLEY: Yeah. It's hard because--

ANGELA HAMILTON: You don't have to choose one. You can do it all.

DUKE GARNSEY: Well, for me, maybe the idea of teaching, because I feel so inspired by the teachers around and the things that they've shared with me that I feel like that I could share upon others and share my knowledge and experiences, and I feel like that I just want to share with others what I've been taught, which could be pretty cool.


MADISON PINTLEY: I just don't want to lose the dance bit because I love dancing. So as a choreographer, I feel like sometimes they don't get to dance as much on stage. You're more like the audience. You watch it, you know?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I mean, it's up to you. It's up to you, totally up to you. I've been choreographing since I was 22, and I danced. I just danced in all my own works--


ANGELA HAMILTON: --until I was 27 or something.


ANGELA HAMILTON: And then I was like, yeah, I'm tired. Now I'm just going to watch.


You can do it. The script is up to you. There's no rules.

DUKE GARNSEY: Have you ever felt, with choreographing, that you've ever had-- obviously, you would have had mental blocks, but where do you find the best place for you to grasp different ideas-- not from but your ideal setting to feel the most creative?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I find going for walks really helps me get ideas. So I'll just listen to the music, or if I'm at the initial stages, just listen to random music and see if something strikes, and yeah, I'll usually just start to get visuals and images. They're usually just flashing images, and then, eventually, it's like a puzzle, and then it gets pieced together.

MADISON PINTLEY: How do you disconnect yourself from being in a dance classroom all day and then going back almost into reality, like leaving dance class?

ANGELA HAMILTON: I don't really find that transition difficult. But to relax, I guess I love playing with my dog and scrolling on TikTok. I probably shouldn't mention that again. I just really love TikTok. It's just-- there's such profound content on there.

MADISON PINTLEY: That's good to know.

ANGELA HAMILTON: I follow a lot of psychologists and stuff like that. There's such interesting stuff. Anyway, don't go on TikTok. It's terrible. It's a black hole.

MADISON PINTLEY: I found my mum scrolling on it the other night.


DUKE GARNSEY: All right. Well, that's great that you've shared with us some great information.

MADISON PINTLEY: Thank you so much.

DUKE GARNSEY: Thank you so much.


Thanks for having me.

DUKE GARNSEY: Thank you.


JOANNE KING: Thanks for tuning in to 'Listen @ The Arts Unit', our series introducing the 2023 NSW Public Schools Dance Ensemble tutors.

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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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