Australian Dance Theatre, Hawthorn SA
15-19 July 2013
By Linda Badger.
Wow! What an amazing, full on, challenging week this was. I went to the Australian Dance Theatre Secondment expecting a challenge and to dance full on, but this week went beyond all expectations!
I completely recommend anyone who is interested in working with ADT, or a company like ADT, with a go-hard or go-home work ethic to experience this unique secondment week at least once (if not many times) to continue to build on your skill and to experience the working company environment.
From day one to day four the structure went along these lines…morning class, tumbling/ADT skills session, and repertoire. Each day also included either a talk regarding company life, auditions/cracking the industry or observing the company work.
Each morning class was taught by a different member of the company, which was reflective of their own practice as a company. These classes were quite diverse in style and emphasis, which kept us on our toes, and really gave us a fantastic broad-spectrum learning experience for the week. The classes had a beautiful flow to them and the exercises were a unique take on technique and often taken beyond the regular boundaries of contemporary dance class exercises, expecting us to use our bodies in unusual pathways and dynamics. I loved the challenge and the thinking behind the exercises, it really made you consider movement differently.
The classes were not similar to what you would experience as a full time student in a dance course, so a secondment like this is something that students should try to get to, as it will stretch them beyond the regular learning experience and skill set.
The company members mostly ran the week, which really gave us the chance to get in amongst them and learn so much just by observation. They were completely lovely, open, honest, real and approachable, which made the experience quite special.
With appearances and talks with ADT’s Rehearsal Director Elizabeth Old, who shared her wealth of wisdom and experience with us in various sessions, there were many opportunities to ask questions of the company, get to know how they work, and what makes this particular company so unique.
Each day in separate groups we learnt company repertoire from both G, which recently toured Australia, and the new work Proximity. Both are completely different works so we got a good taste of the expansive skill required to be a part of ADT. Not only is contemporary dance technique used, but breaking, Aikido, various hip-hop influenced styles, classical ballet, and anything and everything else! There has to be a willingness to go beyond your training, beyond what you think you are capable of. This seemed to be the main theme running throughout the week. Although it wasn’t necessarily something overly emphasised, it was just an excepted reality. It was quite clear that ADT is not for the faint hearted, or anyone who wants to put themselves in any kind of a box.
The company dancers are constantly making the work under the direction of Artistic Director Garry Stewart, so on day four we were given the opportunity to do some tasking. It was fantastic to see the creativity in the secondment group with such interesting tasks set. It was probably my favourite part of the week, as I love the challenge of working with a set task and seeing what unique movement and creativity will come out of it.
Day five was the ‘audition day’, although it was more to experience what an audition for ADT would involve. Again we had morning class, which was slightly more technical than classes we had done during the previous days, followed by learning fresh repertoire, and finally a showing of all the work we had learnt from company rep during the week. Garry Stewart came to the showing, and although this was not strictly an audition, all dancers really put everything they could into this moment, and it was a great ending to the week.
I cannot stress strongly enough that a secondment is the way to get some great company experience, get yourself known and seen, and to really expand yourself as a dancer. Even if company work is not something you are particularly interested in doing, the experience is still an invaluable one. ADT runs two secondment weeks each year, in July and November, and they also have a few other unique educational opportunities for up-and-coming dancers and choreographers. Check out their website for more information at ADT.org.au.