International Ballet Workshops (IBW) brings elite ballet teachers to Australia and New Zealand for extraordinary learning opportunities for young dancers in the school holidays. The Summer 2019 International Guest Teacher was Dusty Button, who awarded the Prospect Award to young Australian dancer Arielle Taylor.
After seeing IBW advertised on Facebook and speaking to her teacher, Taylor decided it would be a good opportunity to attend IBW. “We decided it would be a great experience and opportunity to be exposed to international guest teachers and also for the chance to maybe be selected for one of the unique opportunities on offer,” she says. “I was so excited when Dusty Button was announced as the guest teacher!”
Button is a ballerina who proudly challenges the status quo and considers “bravado” to be one of the qualities that has been one of the pillars of her career. “I often find that many dancers place value on the accomplishments and surrounding opinions of these accomplishments rather than placing that value on who they are when accomplishing these things,” she says. “Speaking comparatively to the pillars that support the weight of my career, I believe my ‘bravado’ to be the most important one, possibly the only one of which I consider to be important. Looking back [on my career], there isn’t a single experience that I would change if I were to do it again. I would rather remain true to myself and accomplish absolutely nothing than conquer the world at the cost of selling out. What good is success if it doesn’t take second place to pride?”
With these values as the backbone to Button’s interests as an artist, at IBW she awarded Taylor the Prospect Award. “We ‘follow’ direction throughout our journey to professional work, and while that is necessary for discipline and growth as we mature, there comes a time when we all come to a crossroad, leaving us with the decision to continue following or to lead.”
Button continues, “An artist can’t earn that title without creating, and if we never find it in ourselves to do just that, we will always follow and never earn the title of an artist. We can’t expect everyone to see qualities in us that we believe to be there ourselves. Some of these qualities are often overlooked because they don’t fit the preformed ‘Ballerina Mould’. These qualities to me are the best a dancer can have, qualities that I value in myself and also the same qualities that I found in Arielle. The Prospect Award is meant to fortify these values so that the flame doesn’t die if overlooked too often along Arielle’s journey, because one day, it will shine bright enough to blind everyone who couldn’t see it before.”
As part of Taylor’s award, Button choreographed a solo for her, and the pair got the opportunity to spend time in the studio together. “I feel so privileged and honoured having been selected for Dusty Button’s Prospect Award,” shares Taylor. “It means so much to me! I can’t wait to perform my solo choreographed by Dusty and proudly represent her Bravado dancewear brand. Spending time with Dusty was such a wonderful experience. She is such an amazing, kind and inspirational person. I am so glad I got to meet her, learn from her and dance with her, something I will always cherish.”
Button chose her favorite piece by Beethoven as music for Taylor’s solo. “Hearing this invokes in me what I hoped this solo choreography would invoke in Arielle — inspiration to be better each day than she was the previous,” Button reveals. “I wanted to challenge her because we can’t grow without overcoming challenges. The choreography was my gift to her, but the reward that I hoped she would leave with and my goal with the Prospect Award was to be discovered in the time spent learning this choreography — the conversation and insight that hopefully allowed Arielle to see her goals more clearly and the work that is ahead of her in order to obtain all of them. The gift that I unexpectedly received was the visualization of her success and being fortunate enough to play a small part in that journey.”
Although Australia can feel very far away from the opportunities abroad, Button encourages this isolation to be inspirational for young dancers. “The best advice I can give Australian and Kiwi dancers is to never use anything as a crutch. If we are asked about hardships that we have had to overcome, I advise they answer that they had none…rather opportunities to strengthen their character.”
Button adds, “Isolation allows us to focus, and there are often things happening in the U.S. and Europe that cloud that focus. IBW is focused on genuine training and provides dancers with opportunities that will result in their success. I only support things that I truly believe in. It’s difficult to believe what you see on TV or read on the internet because the world is full of people hungry for money, power and respect, most of which will give anything for it. The thing I love most is that IBW provides dancers with the tools they need to grant these dancers the respect they deserve, which is where our values align. I am only hungry for the respect.”
Taylor similarly outlines the value of IBW and the unique opportunity the workshops bring to Australia. “IBW’s up and coming 2019 Winter Series in July is bringing Balanchine style and Balanchine technique to Australia with guest teacher Elizabeth Walker, which is such a wonderful opportunity,” she says. “I think this is very important to Australian dancers to be given these lifetime experiences and opportunities to be inspired and exposed to international master teachers. I would definitely encourage other dancers to attend IBW. I had a great time, and I am so glad I attended. I loved every minute and learnt so much.”
For more information and to register for the 2019 IBW Workshop Series, visit www.internationalballetworkshops.com.
By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa.