What does the gift of dance mean to you?

Dancer Teri Crilly

Christmas is all about giving, but that doesn’t have to mean spending money. As dancers, we are blessed with the opportunity to spread joy year-round, and what better time to appreciate this than at Christmas? Dance Informa spoke to professional dancers around Australia about what the “gift of dance” means to them, and how we as artists can all share our passion for movement.

The Australian Ballet

Dimity Azoury, soloist with The Australian Ballet. Photo by Daniel Boud.

Dimity Azoury, soloist, The Australian Ballet:

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

“To me, the gift of dance is having the opportunity to be able to pursue expression and beauty through movement and imagination. Also, to be surrounded by people on and off the stage who are also ‘transported’ by dance.”

How can we as artists share our passions this holiday season?

“Dance is a gift that brings people together with creativity and music. To me, dance is joyous and brings unity with that happiness. Surely they are the most important gifts to remember at Christmas, and beyond. Kindness, acceptance and joy – remembering how lucky we are to dance and holding onto that.”

Bicky Lee, independent dance artist, Melbourne:

Bless the Beasts

Geoffrey Watson and Bicky Lee rehearse ‘Bless the Beasts’ by Maximilian and Laura Summers for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival at Artshouse. Photo courtesy of Bicky Lee.

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

“I like to use this period of festivities to connect with all the wonderful people with whom I have created dance and friendship this year. As I approach 2016, I am challenging myself to make that first step and approach new people and new goals so that I may share the bond of creativity with new artists in the New Year. My corny Christmas message to you all is: we may be poor artists and dancers, but we can always afford the gift of collaboration and creativity!”

Teri Crilly, junior soloist, Queensland Ballet:

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

“Dance brings joy and so many people together all around the world – professional or otherwise — and in this way can very much be seen as a gift. As professional dancers, it is our job to refine this gift and share it with audiences. Being able to take the audience on a journey and bring a story to life on stage is truly a blessing. This is one of the things that keeps me motivated and inspired in the studio throughout the rehearsal process. One of the most exciting parts of being a dancer is exploring and developing a character and sharing that interpretation and creation with audiences.”

Alexandra Cownie

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Cownie.

How can we as artists share our passions this holiday season?

“I love that so many ballet companies around the world have created a Nutcracker Christmas tradition; it’s the ultimate festive ballet. Many of these productions involve dance schools and students, which enables the community to share in the magic of ballet and Christmas. Christmas is personally my favourite time of year, so to be able to do what I love and be a part of other peoples’ Christmas traditions is a privilege.”

Alexandra Cownie, director of International Ballet Workshops and author of How to be a Ballet Dancer:

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

“Although it starts with very self-centered work to reach outstanding body and emotional control, dancing is all about the experience shared on stage between dancers and audience. Giving dance is putting light into the world. It is making the people in the audience relax, rest and disconnect from the world they live in to enjoy something beautiful and refreshing… This is what they pay for! This is why dancers must hide their pain and effort to make it look so happy and easy… Dance makes the world better. Dance makes people better… That is the best gift in the world!”

Melbourne City Ballet

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Price.

Charlotte Price, junior artist, Melbourne City Ballet:

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

“Dance is the perfect way to escape from my thoughts and troubles. I’d like to think that having the gift of dance means I can help other people escape from their thoughts and/or troubles, too, by performing with all my heart.

How can we as artists share our passions this holiday season?

The Christmas season is all about family. My favourite way to share my gift/passion is performing for the people I love. I believe that showing our passions can inspire others to follow their dreams, especially during the festive season.”

Olivia Jenkins, director of Danceworks Sydney:

What does the gift of dance mean to you?

Danceworks Sydney

Photo courtesy of Olivia Jenkins.

“The gift of dance for me is joy – a way to fully express myself and to become one with the music.”

How can we as artists share our passions this holiday season?

“Sharing the joy of dance can happen any time, but encouraging others to join in is easier at this festive time.”

Tell us what the gift of dance means to you in the comments below:

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): Junior Soloist Teri Crilly in Queensland Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker.’ Photo courtesy of Queensland Ballet.

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