Autumn Feature: Falling in Love with Dance

Dancer in the autumn leaves

This autumn as the leaves begin to fall, Dance Informa looks at why and when dancers “fall” in love with dance. Read on for some inspiring recounts!

Tim Harbour, resident choreographer of the Australian Ballet

“Dance, and particularly ballet, has been the largest narrative in my life. I began training at five and was a career dancer from 19 until stopping at 32. At the start, I didn’t witness dance. It wasn’t Michael Jackson videos or performances by the Bolshoi that inspired me to dance. It was movement itself. Anything dance loses through its ephemeral nature, it makes up for in immediate intensity, and I felt this from the beginning. I was eventually able to turn this sensual inwardness into something I could share with an audience, but it took me a long time.

Chrissy Kokiri. Photo by John McDermott, The New Zealand Dance Company.

Chrissy Kokiri. Photo by John McDermott, The New Zealand Dance Company.

Although it’s been my job to share dance since I was 19, first as a dancer and now as a choreographer, my feeling for dance as something private has never really left me.”

Chrissy Kokiri, dancer with the New Zealand Dance Company

“I don’t recall a particular time or moment that I fell in love with dance. I guess for me it has been something that I’ve learnt to love. Dance was never something I grew up wanting to do; I kind of just fell into it and ended up being pretty good. Over time, I have definitely grown more in love with dancing, probably because it gave me something that I could really focus on. It’s one of those things that if you invest your time and energy into, you’ll see the fruits of that hard work, and I think that’s what I like the most.”

Craig Davidson. Photo by Ingo Hoehn.

Craig Davidson. Photo by Ingo Hoehn.

Craig Davidson, dancer with the Semperoper Ballet Dresden, Germany, and freelance choreographer

“From an early age, I used to love watching the old black and white dance movies with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I fell in love with their class and style, fabulous music and great dance routines. They really knew the art of the business and how to captivate an audience. I knew that I wanted to be a part of something special like this.” 

Carl Tolentino, dancer with the New Zealand Dance Company

“I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I fell ‘in love’ with dance, but I can remember a time when I absolutely loved performing this jazz solo for my final year in high school in Brisbane, which was to James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good). I was supposed to be this sexual James Brown in the ’60s, singing live on stage alongside this chorus of beautiful back-up dancers. At 17, this was the first big solo where I had to hold the entire stage and perform it in front of a huge audience. I remember being so nervous having to create this solo inspired by the ‘godfather of soul’, and for a short, nerdy-looking kid performing as this funky, charismatic big personality was this amazing challenge that I loved performing each night. Also, this solo impressed the director of the New Zealand School of Dance, which helped my successful admission to the school.” 

Bicky Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee.

Bicky Lee. Photo courtesy of Lee.

Bicky Lee, performance artist/writer

“As a shy girl who thought differently than the other people around her and understood music better than words, dance was a natural way to explore and investigate the world. For years, it was the only way I knew how to understand myself, and I got to wear pretty costumes. So, of course I fell in love with it.” 

Katie Rudd, dancer with the New Zealand Dance Company

“Dancing invites you to form deep physical, mental, emotional connections, firstly with yourself, and then with the other dancers in the space. It presents me with a physical pursuit. For me, dance is never a complete; there is always more, or less, or faster, higher, softer, and so in that sense I love the challenge this presents — a constant journey of discovering, questioning and evolving. This is something I thrive off.” 

Teagan Lowe. Photo courtesy of Lowe.

Teagan Lowe. Photo courtesy of Lowe.

Teagan Lowe, principal dancer/dance captain, Opera Australia

“Dance to me was never natural, easy or ‘the norm’. It was, and always will be, a challenge and constant commitment, which is something that attracts me so much to what I do. I remember my turning point in dance being at a very young age, when at my first ever eisteddfod I managed to bring my grandmother and grandfather to tears. I’m still not sure how or why this moment had such a huge impact on my dance future, but all I know is that it is something that will always be with me, to drive me and to remind me of my deep-seeded love and passion for what I do and why I do it.” 

Chimene Steele-Prior, independent dancer and choreographer

“I cannot remember a single moment when I fell in love with dance; rather, there have been many seemingly insignificant moments when I have been surprised by my own joy. As a shy child, dance gave me a way to express myself, and I would enter a beautiful dream world. On stage, I was uninhibited and could find an outlet for parts of myself that I did not feel safe enough to show in my day-to-day life. I also loved the physical challenge of dance. The gradual process of achievement, knowledge and trust developed in the body.

Chimene Steele-Prior. By Lucy Spartalis

Chimene Steele-Prior. By Lucy Spartalis

I saw FOI by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and STAU by Anouk Van Dijk at the end of my dance training, and I remember thinking, ‘Dance can do this?’ When I look back on both these works, it is the magic and mystery that surrounds them. That they managed to pick me up and take me somewhere unexpected. There was a sense of fearlessness and bravery within the work and by the performers. This is still what I love today about seeing dance. When I go to a show and I’m tired or even cynical and I find myself accepting and believing in a place that I never knew existed.

“As a maker and a performer, I love to discover parts of humanity that sit on the edges of reality that may seem too ugly, volatile, vulnerable, surprising, spontaneous, et cetera. It’s all relative, buts it’s endlessly interesting, mysterious and magical to me.” 

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

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