Kelly Aykers has had a long career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. She has danced for multiple mainstage productions with David Atkins, including in Chicago and Sweet Charity. She has choreographed for stage and TV, including for ABC TV and Opera Australia. Aykers also has a full time dance school in Brunswick, Melbourne, where she individually mentors 50 dancers a year.
“There are many things I love regarding what I do,” she says. “Working with the energy of young, inspiring dancers who have a vision and a dream, mentoring and being a guide to help them be passionate, seeing the improvement and confidence coming through in a young person because you have worked and encouraged their journey is incredibly satisfying to me.”
Kelly Aykers’ school teaches commercial dance and musical theatre to Certificate IV and Diploma level. “It is a boutique school,” she explains. “The 50 students whom we take in, I am able to personally mentor and oversee each of their journeys. My incredible staff who work with the students all year-round also then get a very connected feel with each of them and have a great working relationship with them. I also provide incredible professional work experience to the students, giving them performance opportunities in film, corporate, commercial and theatre gigs.”
The dancers who are suited to her training need not be the strongest dancer, singer or actor to begin with. Instead, Aykers says they need to have “the desire and strong mind to work for their chosen field. They need to be able to work with my staff and myself and take direction well and then apply that direction accordingly.”
Aykers is inspired by the confidence the Australian dance industry is currently showing in itself. “I have been involved in this industry professionally for over 30 years, and now I can truly feel its confidence in its art and skill set, as well as its dancers and training that is on offer,” she says. “Earlier on, we second guessed ourselves too much and compared our dancers and choreographers to other countries too much.”
Aykers nominates seeing her students on set in a new Australian film, The Very Excellent Mr Dundee, for which she is choreographing, as likely to be the highlight of 2018. Meanwhile, the busy studio owner is also producing her own work. Watch out for Broadway and Beyond in regional Victoria and Australian capital cities from 2019.
For more information about Kelly Aykers and her school, visit www.kellyaykers.com.au.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.