A Dancers Life

Introducing...

Energetiks Dancer of the Month!Energetiks DancewearComment
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Name: Saskia

Age: 14

How did you get into dancing, and how old were you?
When I was 9 I invited my friend over to my house and she taught me the first few steps of her tap dance and I was hooked. I enrolled in the same classes as her.

What do you like about Energetiks Dancewear?
I like the vibrant colours. I think they really stand out against the usual black of most dancewear.

Do you have a favourite style of dance (if so what)?
I thinks its a tie between Jazz and Lyrical. I like the upbeat-ness of Jazz and the sass! And I like the emotion and the gracefulll-ness of Lyrical.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself doing music videos, photos shoots and teaching dance.

What do you like to do when you're not dancing?
I like to read and go shopping with my friends.

All-time favourite dance movie:
Footloose FOR SURE!!!!

Best dance memory/moment:
Coming off stage from my first duo in an eisteddfod and feeling like a different dancer.

Food you can't live without:
SULTANAS!

The person you'd most like to meet (living or dead):
Ashi Ross or JK Rowling.

Favourite saying or advice that inspires you:
I was feeling really self concious at one point and my friends asked me this. 'Do you care about what other people are wearing/doing?' And i said no. And she said 'Then they don't care about what you're wearing/doing.'

Saskia.jpg
 

Congratulations Saskia, you've won an Energetiks Mystery Prize! Please email promotions@energetiks.com.au to receive your prize.

Would you like to be featured as our Energetiks Dancer of the Month?

 

Energetiks Dancer of the Month Questionaire 

Name:
Age:
How did you get into dancing, and how old were you?
What do you like about
 Energetiks?
Do you have a favourite style of dance (if so what)?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What do you like to do when you're not dancing?
All-time favourite dance movie:
Best dance memory/moment:
Food you can't live without:
The person you'd most like to meet
 (living or dead):
Favourite saying or advice that inspires you:
Include a photo of yourself (dance related please)

 

Email your answers to promotions@energetiks.com.au for a chance to be featured!

A ballerina tribute

About dance, Things we LOVEEnergetiks DancewearComment

This is the grave of ballerina Marie Taglioni at the Montmartre cemetery in Paris, where young dancers still leave their dancing shoes and flowers. Marie Taglioni pioneered the en pointe style of dance in the 1800's which characterises ballet today.

What a lovely way to honour a dancer whose life & work had such great influence on the classical ballet artform.

Marie Taglioni  (1804 - 1884)

Marie Taglioni  (1804 - 1884)

Learn more about Marie here.

Dance talk: The pros and cons of having different teachers.

Dance Advice, About danceEnergetiks DancewearComment

When I was fifteen, and had been dedicating every waking moment to dance for long enough that my parents began to realise my ambitions of a career in ballet weren’t just childhood fantasies of tutus and tiaras (although, a tiara wouldn’t hurt..) and that one way or another I was determined to succeed beyond the limitations of my little country town dance school and get myself into a prestigious full-time ballet school in the city where I could hopefully forge my way into the dance industry and (pointe shoes crossed) a successful career. And after my dad had recovered from the disappointment that I wasn’t going to end up chasing sheep, and driving the family tractor around the farm like a (comical) protegé for him to mentor, and mum had accepted with thinly-veiled dismay that I would not be discovering the cure for cancer or a new, exotic species of animal (as my eager-to-please six year old self may have intimated on several occasions) then it became clear that in order to continue advancing my technique and skills I needed to be doing more dance classes.

I was already taking every available class with my current dance teacher, and helping teach several classes a week as well, so we decided it was time to try and find another teacher to give me the extra tuition I was looking for. Luckily, by some miraculous turn of events my mother literally bumped into a woman who was not only a highly regarded ballet teacher, she was from South Africa, had owned her own dance school, judged RAD classical exams for years and was notoriously strict. I began taking private lessons with her twice a week, on top of the 5 nights I spent at my original studio. These lessons were amazing, and my new teacher not only challenged me, she picked apart every aspect of my technique and put me back together again stronger and more determined than ever.

It wasn’t long though before I realised that as much as these private classes were helping, there was also some disadvantages. For one thing, the fact that I was taking classes with another dance teacher made me even more conspicuous to the other students of my dance school where I was already the odd 'bun' out in a sea of ponytails and t-shirts (the dress code at our school was very casual, and most of the students saw the classes as a bit of fun and somewhere to socialise with friends, whilst my approach was a little more serious), and I couldn’t help feeling a little excluded because of this (though this could have been just in my head, it still affected me). And before long I began to notice the many differences in the way my two teachers taught, and soon started to feel somewhat uncertain about what was the ‘right’ way. All this time I had never questioned the methods of my first teacher, but now that I had another one who I respected equally, yet who had different opinions on proper technique I became unsure, and this dilemma began to affect my confidence when dancing (‘In piqué turns is the passé foot held derriere, or at the side of the supporting knee like my other teacher said…), I’d go to do an exercise that once came naturally to me, and then remember that one of my teachers had told me I was doing a particular thing incorrectly, whilst the other one was happy with it. Then I’d panic, and stuff up.

Unfortunately, rather than being clever about it and talking to my teachers I decided to adapt my technique for each class, I respected them both so much, that younger me thought questioning their methods in any way would be unthinkably rude, instead of realising that a discussion about technique would not only be welcome, but most likely encouraged by any dance teacher.

  Class shouldn't be a stressful experience.

 

Class shouldn't be a stressful experience.

After all, their job is to teach you ballet (or jazz, or tap, or contemporary, or anything) technique, and dance teachers love dance every bit as much as their students do (and if they don’t then it’s time to find a new teacher!). Foolishly though, I took the hard route, and ‘adapted’ for several years, before auditioning, and moving on to a full-time school in the city (just like I'd always wanted too) where I was lucky enough to be taught by not one but six incredible teachers who taught me why it is so important not just to have correct technique, but to understand what makes it correct, and the technical variations between different styles of teaching. My confidence as a dancer had definitely suffered a little (due to my own not speaking up) and this was something that I had to work harder to un-do and eventually overcame, but for the sake of every other dancer out there who has or is thinking about taking lessons with more than the one teacher for each style of dance, don’t do things the hard way, make sure you keep these rules in mind to ensure you’re getting the absolute most out of ALL your classes:

1. Make sure that both/all teachers are aware of the areas that need work...

One of my classical teacher's noticed that I wasn't holding my relevé position firmly enough during double/triple pirouettes (i.e. I wasn't retaining the locked position, instead my foot would drift fractionally downwards - tut tut!), so I made sure to let my other teacher know so that she could pull me up on it as well, if I ever forgot. That way everything was in tune, I was walking into both classes with the same check -list securely in my mind. It's no good if you're putting all your energy into 'fixing your arms', 'faster spotting' and 'tighter fifths!' every class for one teacher and then throwing that out the window because you've got to be all about 'higher relevés!', 'tighter core muscles' and 'deeper plies!' for the other. This is unbalanced and confusing, the body and thought-process of a dancer should be in harmony when you're dancing in class, otherwise the added pressure and adrenaline as well as the addition of choreography to remember during performance time will more than likely overload your brain and negatively impact on your performance. Dance is supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful.

2. If there is an issue with what you are being told... 

- for example if Teacher 1's instructions conflict with Teacher 2's instruction for a particular exercise or step - let them know. Seriously now, you might think 'Oh, so what if I have to aim for flat turnout with Teacher 1, and Teacher 2 insists that I don't ever go past 120 Degrees, I can just swap for each class...' This may be true, but the reasoning behind any dance teacher's instruction **should** be well thought out, and designed with the prerogative of giving you the best possible technique, whilst looking out for your welfare. Therefore if you went and talked to Teacher 2 she might tell you that her aim in limiting your turnout is to first strengthen your ankles and loosen your hip sockets as she has noticed your tendency to roll in when you go past this range. It's easy enough to then explain this to Teacher 1 and ask her opinion, she might just tell you that when she barks 'That's not flat turnout!' what she's wanting is for you to be constantly aiming and pushing for flatter turnout, rather than just sitting in you comfort zone, and that she expects you to actively resist rolling.

Now you know the logic behind what your teachers are doing, and with an open discussion an agreement can be reached, either through mutual compromise or sometimes through one graciously agreeing with the logic of the other. However, if your teachers don't want to compromise then either way, you now have enough insight to make up your own decision about which method is safer and more effective. It is still important to be respectful of your teachers. They are trained experts, and there to guide you for a reason, but if outside of Teacher 1's class you think that you would rather adopt Teacher 2's approach whenever you're dancing, then you now have the power to decide for yourself.

3. Remember, it's about you...

Yes, it's great to be pals with the other students, and even better if you have a great relationship with your teacher, but ultimately you're here for you. Whatever your goals, whether you're dancing just as a fun way to stay fit and healthy,  you simply enjoy the discipline and challenge of mastering an art form,  you just LOVE dancing plain and simple, or perhaps you're ready to go all the way to the top and make a living from your passion. Whichever the case, you're doing this for yourself and it's important you make your own goals the priority. If you don't feel like you can talk to your teacher about what you want out of your classes,  if he/she doesn't respect your decision and understand that you could benefit from classes with another teacher then perhaps it's time to find a different school. Also keep in mind that in the dance world people can unfortunately be unnecessarily bitchy (it's what happens in any highly competitive and challenging environment). It's natural that there might be a little resentment from some of your classmates when they find out you're going to 'some other teacher' for classes. Most of us feel some kind of loyalty to our beloved schools, but a teacher should always have their students best interests at heart, and new experiences and the challenge of taking a new class and learning from a different teacher is all a part of helping you to grow as a dancer and performer, so trying new things isn't a betrayal to your school and it's important you realise that. In all likelihood some of the students will also be a little envious of you (in a sense you're getting double the skill set, and that might make them feel a little threatened), but just keep being your happy, positive self, focus on the dancing and they'll eventually get over it ...after all they're here for themselves too, and dance is a lot less fun if you spend all your time being jealous of another student.  

So what are the Pros? 

Well, aside from being a fun way to challenge yourself and mix things up...

  • It makes you more observant; 'Coup de Pied you say? Well I wonder if he means Vaganova Coup de Pied or Cecchetti Coup de Pied? Better check....' And just like that, you're doing an audition and after demonstrating as he calls out the instructions, the choreographer turns around to find you're the only one who noticed he meant Coup de Pied Derriere, not a Cecchetti Coup de Pied... you just got hired
     
  • You get a better idea of why, not just what. Like in the example above, finding points of difference between your teachers' teaching methods makes you aware of the different technique that can be applied, and the specific benefits of these differences. Vagonova (Russian) relevés, require you to 'pop' up onto pointe, where as Cecchetti (Italian) ones roll up to the relevé through the demi pointe. The Vaganova method requires more strength and puts more emphasis on preparation (tick!) but puts much greater strain on the ankle and could cause a weaker dancer to injure or sprain themselves (not-so good...), however the Cecchetti method requires more control, as you rise gradually and there's much less chance of strain/injury (tick!), but it also won't build your strength as effectively as Vaganova, and leaves more room for lazy 'demi relevés' (You know when you're not 100% pulled up on your pointe? Yeah, not good.). So now you are much more aware of your body and what you need to be doing in order to demonstrate proper technique, and you're also able to analyse your own weaknesses better.
  • You get more feedback - you're probably thinking 'well duh! ...double the teachers obviously means double the feedback, sheesh!' which is fair enough, but hold on because what I really mean is that it offers more thorough feedback. Yes, you could just double your lessons with your good old trusty teacher and hear 'Shoulders downnnn Elly!!! (**except with your name and not mine. That'd be weird...) seven more times a week than usual. Great, you're really going to be super on top of those shoulders now ('Shoulders, what shoulders Sir?') BUT! If you decided to make the effort and find another teacher, then I can guarantee that they WILL pick up on things that your first teacher has missed, because no-ones perfect. Teacher A might notice your shoulders, and Teacher B might have missed them creeping up towards your ears all day but only because she just noticed that you sickle your left foot every time you developé derriere and she's busy busting you for it. Now when you head back to class A you've got something new to focus on. Maybe Teacher B even also noticed that the reason your shoulders rise with more certainty than the sun in the morning is because you're taking the strain from all your allegro out on your neck, shoulders and upper torso, instead of channeling it out through your legs during preparation and 'take-off'. Voila, problem solved! 

*BUT*

Multiple teachers isn't for everyone... 

Some dancers only want to work with the one teacher that they trust and respect, and feel stressed and uncomfortable if they have to juggle two or more studios or classes.

They don't see the benefit in getting taught from someone with a different style or method, and if that's you then that's fine, after all you know better than anyone what works best for your body. I will say though, that in the highly competitive dance industry it's virtually unheard of for a dancer to only ever work with the one Director, or the one Choreographer. 

The reality is much more likely to be that you work with somewhere between a minimum of three Directors, fifteen choreographers and twenty or so 'teachers' taking class during your career, and that's just if you stay with the one company for the whole duration... if you're moving from job to job, and taking up different contracts each year then it's much more likely to be hundreds of directors and choreographers, all with their own methods and wishes, and their own style of 'instruction'. Some will be very polite and open to hearing your opinions and ideas and may even actively seek your input, and others will undoubtedly be very strong-minded and unwilling to accept any compromise or deviation from their directions. It's in these situations that having experience working with different personalities and teaching methods can give you an advantage over other dancers. You will adapt faster, because you're used to responding to different instruction and you're not 'stuck in your ways' which can be a huge asset when it comes to standing out in an audition; you will be the one jumping into action at an unexpected demand whilst your peers blink in surprise whilst thinking 'But my teacher never did it like that...'. You're more likely to have an awareness of the difference between Cecchetti, RAD, Vaganova, and Balanchine methods for example, and whilst your single-teacher friend might absolutely own her flowing, seamless (Cecchetti-based) Port de Bras, she suddenly loses all confidence and becomes awkward and uncertain when she's asked to 'Do it without the frills' by an impatient Vaganova-loving choreographer. You on the other hand are a master of all trades. And it's generally held that a well-trained dancer should be able to do any kind of port de bras.

So now you're aware of the drawbacks and the advantages of having more than one teacher when it comes to dance, and what to do about the issues that can arise. Hopefully you can apply this knowledge and use it to help you make the right decision for yourself (or your child) so that you're getting the most out of your own dancing that you possibly can. And I'll only say it this one more time (promise!) at the end of the day, the most important thing of ALL is that you're enjoying yourself, the rest comes second (or more accurately 'A la seconde' ... ;) hehe.).

So that's all for now guys, stay happy, keep dancing, and until next time... 

Bye for now! :)

Elly

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Talent Alert!

Dance InspirationEnergetiks DancewearComment

Eight year old Aidan Prince makes this smooth choreography by Matt Tayao look like a walk in the park... can we have some of his skills? Awesome!

Also, big props to the other talented kids in this video for still nailing the routine with a mini-Michael Jackson prodigy in their midst!!

(and what a fitting song!)  ;) 

♬♪♫ ...Don't believe me just watch, don't believe me just watch!... ♬♪♫

Uptown Funk - Aidan Prince

How to choose the ideal audition outfit

About dance, Dance AdviceEnergetiks DancewearComment
auditions

The age-old dilemma of ‘what should I wear?’ seems more important than ever when you consider that your appearance can make or break at an audition. Of course talent comes in to play (well, usually – but that’s another story!). But if the panel are looking at two people of equal talent, and one looks like they just stepped out of an Energetiks photo shoot, and the other looks like they spent the night on the street outside, who do you think the panel will choose?

Dancing is, unfortunately, a very shallow industry. And let’s be honest, if you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you’ll dance well. And if you dance well, you might just get the part! So here are some top tips for choosing the perfect outfit for your next big audition.
 

  • Dress for your shape. Dancers can come in any shape and size, and different roles call for different body types. So don’t freak out and wear something that doesn’t suit you, just because you think ‘everyone else will be wearing this’. If you’re not comfortable in a crop top and booty shorts, don’t wear them. You’ll spend the whole time feeling self-conscious and you won’t dance your best. Equally, if you’ve got rockin’ abs, flaunt them! Show off your best assets. Personally, I was always happiest in a leotard and cut off tights, simple and flattering. Think carefully about what suits your body best.
  • That in mind, you also need to dress for the role. There’s no point going to a hip hop audition in a ballet leotard with a bun. If there are any descriptions of what the casting director is looking for on the audition ad, pay attention. If they want Vegas showgirls, then you’re probably going to need to show a bit of leg. If they’re looking for the next hip hop crew, baggy pants and bright colours it is. Use your common sense and you’ll be fine.

 

 
  • I cannot stress enough how important it is to ROAD TEST your outfit. If you’ve decided to buy a new outfit for an audition, make sure you dance in it first. There is nothing worse than being front and centre, starting to learn the audition routine, and realising that every time you stretch your arms up in your brand new spaghetti strap crop top, you’re about to expose yourself (eek!) to the panel. And then you’ll spend the rest of the audition dancing like a robot who can’t lift their arms above 90 degrees to protect your dignity. And who’s going to hire a robot for the next cast of Wicked? So wear your new outfit to class, or at the very least, put it on at home and do ten minutes of crazy dancing to 80s music in the living room (any excuse really) and check that it’s not going to let you down. Your outfit should be working for you, not against you.
 
  • Don’t forget your Make-up. Leave yourself plenty of time to get glammed up. Try not to go too overboard though, you don’t want your face dripping down your neck while you’re sweating it out in a tiny room full of hundreds of people. A good rule to stick by is wear the make-up you would usually wear to class, plus a little extra touch like a lipstick or some eyelashes. If you never wear makeup to dance and suddenly you shovel it on for an audition, you might find that you’re that person who can’t tolerate eyeliner when you sweat. And then you’ve got two red eyes full of eyeliner residue, and you can’t see, and you end up bumping into another dancer looking super crazy with black tears running down your face. So wear the level of make-up you’re used to and can handle. And AVOID LIP GLOSS if your hair is down. You’ll look like a yeti once all your hair is stuck to your lips, and since you’re trying to be professional, you can’t move it off your face until you’ve stopped dancing. #Awkward.
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  • Hairstyle is also important, and like your outfit, it should be appropriate to the role. You also need to consider your comfort zone. If you always dance with your hair up, don’t suddenly wear it down as it will change your centre of balance. Those triple pirouettes you always nail in class might be off-centre because of it. But if you like to dance with your hair out and free, then you should be true to yourself. Unless you’re auditioning for the Australian Ballet. Bun-heads only in that case.
  • Choose one little ‘extra’ to express your personality. I had a friend who always wore a bright flower in her hair for every audition. It didn’t matter what she was wearing, if she had a high pony tail or a French roll, she always had a flower of some description pinned to her hair. That was her thing. You can have a thing! Maybe it’s a pair of sparkly studs, or a collection of 30 MAC lipsticks that you rotate for every audition. Maybe it’s your hot pink manicure, or your secret lucky undies. Find something that gives you a little kick of confidence. And be proud of who you are.

So don’t stress over what everyone else is wearing. When you’re dancing, your clothes should be the last thing on your mind. And if you’re thinking ‘why am I wearing a crop top, I hate crop tops’ or ‘my hair is about to fall out and my pins are going to fly everywhere’, then you won’t be thinking about the combination the choreographer just taught you, or about showing them your beautiful smile. Everyone’s different. And there’s no winning outfit that everyone should wear. It’s just about choosing something that makes you feel awesome. So next time you’re standing in front of the wardrobe worrying about it, take a step back, relax, and remember, you’re pretty special the way you are, so just be you.

These words of wisdom were brought to you by Energetiks Writer Emily.

Exclusive Look: The Ashi by Energetiks collection!

Dance Inspiration, Fun, Our Product, Things we LOVEEnergetiks DancewearComment

So you know how we spent all day at the beach with one of akind/dancer/singer/actress/extraordinaire (and Energetiks model of course) Ashi Ross the other week for our new collection Ashi By Energetiks ...well the time has come and we can finally announce with great excitement that the new collection will be available from January 28th! So to celebrate (and because we know how much you all love sneak peeks!) here’s a look at some of the gorgeous new styles as modelled by Ashi during our Energetiks beach shoot.

Behind the scenes of the Ashi by Energetiks photoshoot.
Available online and in store January 28th 2015!

Life in Front of the Camera: The Energetiks Dancers

Fun, News, Our Product, Upcoming Events, Things we LOVEEnergetiks DancewearComment

We've got so many exciting things planned for you guys this year (kicking off with our gorgeous new range with Ashi Ross!) and we're giving you the opportunity to be a part of the excitement more than ever before! Stay tuned for lots more inspiration, celebrity interviews, competitions, behind-the-scenes, photoshoots, expert advice, dance and fitness tips and exciting videos to take you with us on all the adventures, hooray for 2015!

Energetiks Teaser: Life in Front of the Camera

Introducing...

Energetiks Dancer of the Month!Energetiks DancewearComment

Name: Roxy
Age: 11

How did you get into dancing, and how old were you? 
I started dance at 5. My mum encouraged me because I was always dancing around the house and loved music.

What do you like about Energetiks Dancewear? 
I love the colours and different styles with the leotards and very comfortable too.

Do you have a favorite style of dance? 
Contemporary/Lyrical

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  
In 5 years I see myself dancing full time and having opportunities to dance more.

What do you like to do when you're not dancing? 
When I'm not dancing I like to see my friends, go to the beach and read.

All-time favorite dance movie? 
Definitely Center Stage.

Favourite dance memory/moment? 
Receiving Junior student of the year at Dynamite Performing Arts and being accepted after auditioning into the Locreado Contemporary Company.

Food you can't live without? 
Eggs and ice cream!

The person you would most like to meet? 
Amanda Schull from Center Stage.

Favourite saying or advice that inspires you: 
"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself"
by Mihkail Baryshnikov.

Congratulations Roxy, you've won an Energetiks mystery prize, please contact us at promotions@energetiks.com.au with your postal address so we can send you your gift

- Energetiks X

Dance: Is it like the movies?

About danceEnergetiks DancewearComment

We had to share this excellent dance article by Michelle Duff for Fairfax NZ News with you all, which gets Sydney Dance Company's Jesse Scales sharing her thoughts on the reality of a dancer's life and why she hates Centre Stage and the 'dance movie' genre. What do you think, is the dancer lifestyle in the movies factual or total fiction?

 

REAL LIFE: Contemporary dancer Jesse Scales, 22, says her life is nothing like what's portrayed in Hollywood movies.

 


The cat-fights. The backstabbing. The pressure of landing a role, the pushy stage mum, the dancer whose heart isn't quite in the right place. The . . .

"Oh, seriously," says 22-year-old Jesse Scales, a dancer with the Sydney Dance Company. "It's nothing like that. And I hate that movie, it's so tacky and superficial," she adds, referring to 2000 dance film Centre Stage, the plot of which I've just been suggesting reflects her everyday life.

So, no bitchiness? "No."

No love triangles? "Nope."

The only similarity being a contemporary dancer bears to Centre Stage, Step Up, Save the Last Dance, You got Served, Honey, or any number of Hollywood flicks, Scales says, is this: it really is a lot of hard work.

Knees and backs are constantly in pain, with physical training from 9am till 6pm five or six days a week. That's not including gym sessions, extra classes, and performances.

Says fellow dancer Thomas Bradley, 24: "I think people still don't understand you can be a dancer fulltime, and even if they do they don't take it seriously - they think you kick your legs up all day."

"We work the same hours, if not more, than an office job, and we've been training for our whole lives. This job is everything, you can't risk anything that would harm your body. It is your entire life."

The Sydney Dance Company will perform a four-show billing of their work 2 One Another at the Aotea Centre this week. Of the 16-strong cast, four trained at the New Zealand School of Dance, including Alana Sargent, 24, who is originally from Gisborne.

SPREADING HER WINGS: Gisborne dancer Alana Sargent will perform with the Sydney Dance Company this week.

SPREADING HER WINGS: Gisborne dancer Alana Sargent will perform with the Sydney Dance Company this week.

Sargent, who was in her first stage show at the age of 6, and as a schoolgirl got used to travelling the winding road from the east coast to Wellington for dance competitions, will be making her New Zealand debut with the company.

The other New Zealand alumni are Scales, Bradley, and Janessa Dufty.

For Sargent, the audition process was formidable. Two days, where more than 100 dancers were made to perform ballet, contemporary, and improvised routines, with cutbacks after each stage. She was one of two women to be offered a position.

Originally a ballet nut, Sargent only started to really love dancing when she discovered contemporary dance. "It felt more natural and intuitive to me, I feel like a better dancer," she says. "It's exhausting at times, but so rewarding."

Paula Steeds-Huston, head of contemporary dance at the New Zealand School of Dance, says the school is known for turning out strong dancers who can cope with the physical demands of a professional career and adapt to different styles and choreographers.

"Dancers usually come to us at quite a high level, and if they're from Australia they might have done a couple of years already so they are used to how hard we push our dancers - which is extremely hard. Contemporary is a lot more about how you can push your body to the extremes."

Dancers also work with nutritionalists, gym instructors and sports psychologists, she says: "We turn out elite athletes, with very high technique and ability."

 

The work the Sydney Dance Company will perform in Auckland has won awards for both artistic director Rafael Bonachela and the company, including the 2013 Australian Dance Award for the most outstanding performance.

"2 One Another is undoubtedly glitzy . . . the work is a whole lot more than flashy lights and wide open splits," The Herald-Sun wrote. "It's an organic, multi-dimensional creation, gorgeous to look at and ripe with dramatic tension."

Bradley, who was drawn from his home in rural New South Wales to study at the New Zealand School of Dance, says contemporary dance is a strong vehicle for storytelling.

"It's an expression of what is happening now in our society, between people, between leaders and followers, between money-makers and money-seekers. It aims to set up discussion between people, and it aims to explore. It's not a means by which to impress people, or make people go wow, it's about expression."

Another difference from other dance genres is the way it's devised, Bradley says.

Unlike ballet, contemporary does not have a set language of moves. There are no plies or pirouettes, no positions to master.

Instead, movement is designed to suit the philosophy behind the work. 2 One Another is about human relationships, and how people interact with each other. The dancers spent time in the studio and on the street, watching people's body language. Those small character tics, the subconscious movements people make when talking, were then translated into dance.

"Whenever a contemporary dance move is devised, you set out to create a new vocabulary," Bradley says. "It's completely open."

But does that make it harder to understand?

"Even as someone in the industry, I feel some mild anxiety when I see a show, like I should be trying to read something into it.

"But you shouldn't let that stop you, and if you're not sure what it's about afterwards, that's okay. You don't need to explain it in words, because words restrict us. You just need to have an experience."

2 One Another is at the Aotea Centre from November 13 to 15.

Defending the Dancer

Dance Advice, The Dancer's DiaryEnergetiks Dancewear1 Comment

What dancer hasn't had to endure the irritating parody of the goofy, bent-kneed ballerina teetering on tiptoes when unenlightened friends and strangers learn that you dance, and are unable to resist the urge for some light-hearted mockery... 

Most of the time we can just take it with a grain of salt, and even laugh along (no doubt the culprit's interpretation of fifth position port de bras is actually highly amusing... poor misguided soul!) but sometimes the cliches and denigration to the artform you commit so much time and hard work to can get a little hard to bear. Sometimes gritted teeth are replaced by gleeful visions of a grand battement delivered to the offending head - only ever in your imagination of course...

                   Now who's laughing? ;)

                   Now who's laughing? ;)

 

If any of the above strikes a chord with you then here's some indispensable words of advice from dancer and Energetiks team-member Emily on dealing with the inevitable stigma that dancers can face.

 

 

 

 

Defending the Dancer

 

As a former professional dancer there have been numerous occasions when I have had to defend my career choice to the narrow-minded, the ignorant, or the misinformed. It can be incredibly disheartening to perform your heart out on stage, only to be asked the next day at a backstage tour – “So when are you going to get a real job?”.

 

Dancing is an art form that has seen increased media interest in the last few years thanks to programmes like ‘So You Think you Can Dance’ and movies like ‘Step Up’. This exposure hasn’t done much to improve our pay conditions or our working rights, but with the amount of dancers showing up at auditions these days, it certainly seems to have inspired more people to pursue dancing as a career. Whilst many aspects of these shows and movies glamourize the industry and put a major emphasis on people’s backgrounds and ‘sob stories’, at least the average person gets to see more of this art form that so many of us love. And you would think that people might be more open minded, right? For the most part, sadly, no.

 

I spent many years dancing on cruise ships, and it always seemed so ironic to me that a waiter or bartender would say, ‘You dancers barely work at all. You have no idea what a real job is like.’ They literally had no idea of how much work a dancer has put in for the duration of their ENTIRE LIFE to get to a point where they can have some days off and dance for a few hours each evening. On the surface, sure, we worked less hours than the bar staff did. But what no one ever seemed to understand, was that we could have done their job too. And there is no way they could have done ours. You don’t train five hours a night (and more on weekends) every day of your life since the age of 2 or 3 sometimes to become a bartender. You don’t give up friend’s birthday parties, trips to the cinema and your entire school holidays growing up to become a waiter. We, and our wonderful parents, sacrifice so much so we can do what we love, and we are so excited when someone finally gives us a professional gig, that it is literally heartbreaking when someone makes a throwaway comment about the credibility of your career.

 

You start to wonder, does everyone in the audience feel this way? Are we all a joke to them? And you would get those inane comments from the audience sometimes. ‘So what do you plan to do professionally?’. ‘Do you all hope to get Broadway someday?’ (Like Broadway was the only place you could find professional dancers), ‘Are you going to go back to university and find a career after this?’. Some of us probably did want to get Broadway, and some of us do go on to go to university and follow a different career path one day. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a career already. Dancing requires talent, artistry and athleticism, traits that not everyone possesses.

We are special. And we’re strong. We are told every day at class that we aren’t good enough, even if we are. We criticise every inch of ourselves. We attend audition after audition and accept rejection after rejection. But we keep going because we love it so much.

There a few jobs in the world that require the level of dedication that dancing does. And most of those other careers are also in the Arts, some of the lowest paid skilled jobs in the western world.

 

You don’t see many people saying that football isn’t a real job. And when you consider the comparisons, what’s the difference? Footballers have to train from an early age. Footballers are selected for their teams out of the huge number of young people that play the sport and aspire to make it their career. They also face rejection and criticism on a daily basis. They are athletes that have to have the perfect body and natural facility, and they have to work on their skill every day. But when they make it as a pro, no one questions them. No one waits outside the stadium to say, ‘When do you plan to get a real job?’. No one asks them to work for free, or pays them just expenses, or a minimum wage salary to play a game. Society accepts them, and supports them in their thousands to do what they do. And that’s a good thing, for them. They are talented individuals who have worked hard.

 

Just like us.

 

So to all the dancers out there, the little girl in her first ballet class, the male dancer that just got his first professional show, the old pro that still goes to class every week, I say this. Dance for fun, or dance for a living. Dance every day like you’ll never get to dance again. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone says. We are the lucky ones.

 

We’ll probably never get to a point where dancers have the same status as footballers. But next time someone questions your career, or tells you to get a real job, don’t let it get you down. Don’t let anyone stop you from following your dreams. People can say whatever they want. But we have one up on them, and we always will. They will never understand what it means to master a triple pirouette in class. They’ll never know the buzz of an opening night. And they will never know what it’s like to dance your heart out in front of a theatre full of people, and to know that the applause you just heard, that was for you.