Dance News Australia

Sydney Dance Company’s new Pre-Professional Year

By Rain Francis.

Everyone at Dance Informa was very excited to hear about the introduction of Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year. We spoke to Executive Director Anne Dunn about just what it will entail, how to apply and what the panel will be looking for at the audition.

“Sydney Dance Company has a long history of delivering open classes and school holiday workshops and we wanted to develop a program that was more specifically targeted at dancers that were interested in the dance form of the professional company,” Dunn says.

Four years ago they started a series of dance intensives and began working with tertiary training institutes to give students exposure to company life and to the type of training that SDC dancers receive in the studio. “We realised there was a training niche that Sydney Dance Company was uniquely placed to fill,” Dunn says.

The Pre-Professional Year will provide “a unique opportunity for aspiring professional dancers to attend a new, full-time, one-year training course with Australia’s leading contemporary dance company.”

A maximum of 25 students will be accepted into the inaugural year of the nationally accredited intensive. This opportunity is open to all dance students from school-leaving age, and will offer successful applicants the chance to work with some of Australia’s most successful choreographers and educators.

During the full-time programme, students will study contemporary and ballet technique, improvisation and composition, partnering, Yoga, Pilates, nutrition, safe dance practice and injury prevention. They will also learn repertoire from both SDC and international choreographers.

“Professional development will be experienced each day in the studio, as students are exposed to professional choreographers, teachers and dancers from the industry who will help students to understand the expectations and requirements of working in this challenging but rewarding industry,” Dunn explains. “The course aims to help dancers round out their studio skills by exposing them to the choreographic process, task devising and technique development.”

Sydney Dance Company, De Novo

Sydney Dance Company’s Jessica Thompson & Chen Wen in ‘De Novo’. Photo by Ellis Parrinder.

The more practical aspects of professional development will also be taught, including audition techniques and preparation, media training and CV writing.

A graduation performance will be held in October at Sydney Theatre, alongside Sydney Dance Company’s professional performance season, which will be just one of the opportunities students will have to engage with the company. During the year, besides learning repertoire, they will also be undertaking company class, composition workshops with Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela and classes in Merce Cunningham-based technique with Dance Director Amy Hollingsworth.

The invitation-only audition for this exciting initiative will take place on September 1 in Sydney. The audition process will consist of a ballet class followed by a contemporary floor phrase and a standing phrase. The panel will be on the lookout for students demonstrating strong classical ballet and contemporary technique, artistry and musicality, kinaesthetic awareness and spatial awareness. The correct attitude, of course, is also crucial, says Dunn. Students will need to demonstrate “a strong commitment to completing the one-year course [and the] determination and dedication to learning and improving as a dance artist.”

Although a place in the full-time programme does not guarantee a contract with the company upon graduation, it is an ideal way for aspiring professionals to be exposed to the company. “Unfortunately there are very limited contracts that come up each year with Sydney Dance Company,” explains Dunn. “That being said, we always remember a face and it is the perfect environment to be seen. Students will be encouraged and guided to keep exploring their chosen art form by auditioning around Australia and overseas. They may also be encouraged to train further at a tertiary level or be encouraged to explore the independent dance scene through the contacts and mentors they meet throughout the year.

“The ultimate vision for this initiative is to develop artists that are well rounded and have sound technique. The initiative aims to foster not only a love of dance, but practical skills in the studio and an approach to dancing that shares the discipline and expertise that exists within Sydney Dance Company.”

Applications close on August 16, so interested dancers should hurry and get their paperwork together! They will need to fill in an application form, pay a $30 application fee and supply two photos; one headshot and one current, full-body dance shot in dance wear. There are specific instructions on exactly what is required, so interested dancers should contact Sydney Dance Company via email at fulltime@sydneydancecompany.com or by calling 02 9258 4800.

For further information visit www.sydneydancecompany.com

Photo (top): SDC dancer Janessa Dufty.

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