Jump Dance Challenge started four years ago in Melbourne, when Director Cathy Carey identified an opportunity to launch a dance competition with a difference. Catering for a broad section of dance styles, Jump offers dancers the opportunity to perform ballet, tap, lyrical, different styles of jazz, contemporary, hip hop, own choreography, as well as acrobatics.
Growing up in the dance world and now as a dance mum, Carey knew she wanted to create a competition-based event where dancers can also network, build on their skills and ultimately grow in self-confidence. “We have different heats throughout the year and a qualifying opportunity throughout our heats where the dancers can then compete in the state championships at the end of the year, so this gives them a chance to perform and gain experience and confidence,” says Carey. “It’s also a platform for them to network and make friends and meet people who aren’t from their dance school.”
Last year, Jump expanded with events in Hobart, and this year, Carey is excited to announce that Jump will be held in five different states across Australia. “We’re heading to the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney, as well as Melbourne and regional Victoria, so together there are about 14 heats happening.”
With this expansion, Carey is also launching a training session for the competition judges to ensure they align with the vision of Jump and that there is consistency across the board with their scoring approach. “We require judges who are knowledgeable in all areas of dance and can bring feedback to the dancers,” she explains. “It’s important to have some constructive criticism but also have positive feedback as well. In order for the dancers to grow, they need to hear both.”
There have also been some amazing prizes on offer for dancers and teachers. “For our soloists in the championship sections, they received a four-day return trip to Sydney to participate in Village Nation workshops over the April holidays, and there are vouchers and products from all our sponsors,” says Carey. The teachers also have a chance to win an overseas trip. “We gave away a trip to Phuket for the teachers with the highest scoring junior troupe and highest scoring senior troupe.”
Giving young dancers new opportunities to grow their skills by learning from industry professionals is an important aspect of Jump. “When picking our industry professionals, our team looks into the type of choreography and the type of work that they do, and we pick them according to what we think our dancers would like and could really benefit most from,” says Carey.
Industry professionals who have previously taught workshops at Jump include Donnie DiMase (commercial), Freya List (lyrical), Lucy Doherty (contemporary and inspirational), Indigo Hunt (lyrical), Blake Wood (commercial), Taylor Lord Diamond (hip hop), Mitchell Fistrovic (jazz) and Demelle Demetita (hip hop and inspirational).
A unique aspect of Jump is its ambassador program. Through this program, Carey is fostering a supportive culture in the dance community where dancers are being recognised for their skills and positive attitude that help create the friendly environment that Jump is known for.
“Every year, we pick a group of dancers who represent Jump,” says Carey. “Throughout the year, we give Rising Star Awards, which are good sportsmanship awards, at our event, so we look for dancers who are really encouraging and really friendly backstage and give that great atmosphere. They get discounted entries into our events, and at the events they help out and they get the feel of being part of the organisation. We run different activities like photoshoots, fun days out, and they perform in a showcase at the Victorian Dance Festival each year.”
A positive story from this program is the wonderful friendships that are formed between the ambassadors. “There is a group of three girls who have really connected, and it’s just lovely to hear that because they’ve been Jump ambassadors, that they’ve become good friends,” Carey shares. “They take that outside of Jump so when they see each other outside of competitions, that friendship still continues, and that’s what you want, the networking to continue beyond Jump’s boundaries.”
Uniting the dance community and giving back to the local community is important to Jump. Each year, dance schools from Jump participate in a showcase called “Together We Dance”, a fundraiser for the Good Friday Appeal for the Royal Children’s Hospital Victoria, where over $12,000 was raised by Jump in 2018.
“With that event, we ask schools to come and showcase one piece each, and we put together a performance and it’s just a really lovely event because the dance community comes together to raise money,” Carey describes. “There is no competition involved, but it’s great to see the groups who do compete in our comps dance together.”
In creating Jump, Carey has built a values-driven event that connects young dancers and provides the right foundations for them as they work toward a career in the industry. “We’re trying to create a really friendly vibe and create a platform where these dancers can not only build the skills that they need for later on but also the networking and friendships,” Carey concludes. “That’s really important to us. We feel that as they grow and get older and mature into the industry, those networking opportunities and foundations of friendships are really important, and that’s what we’re trying to create from a young age.”
For more information on Jump Dance Challenge, visit www.comps-online.com.au.
By Nicole Saleh of Dance Informa.