Every serious dance student’s dream is to land a contract, get paid to dance and fulfil their passions. For most, it is a long a painful process, audition after audition, that battle of being patient waiting for a break, the constant rejection, and trying to stay diligent with your training and craft whilst you chase jobs. For a select few, they get their big break before graduating from full time training or seemingly get plucked out of nowhere.
For Sydney’s Kaya Weight, being snapped up by The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) has happened in a flash, and at the age of just 17. Weight had been training full time at Classical Ballet 121 under the direction of Gillian Revie, former dancer with The Royal Ballet and tutor at the English National Ballet. The RNZB’s artistic director, Patricia Barker, took notice of Weight when she attended the 2019 Alana Haines Australasian Awards in New Zealand. Barker obviously saw something special to offer the young dancer a big break.
Weight’s story has a personal edge for me, so I am honoured to help share it. I had the pleasure of teaching Weight when she was younger and remember when she decided to switch gears from studying the performing arts to making ballet the priority of her study. It was a happy/sad farewell to see her move on to ramp up her ballet studies, but she knew what she was passionate about and she has flourished!
Here, Weight shares some insight into her whirlwind experience, fresh off the stage from her debut with the company for the premiere of Black Swan, White Swan.
You have found yourself in a whirlwind of your dreams meeting reality. How are you feeling right now?
“Yes. Dreams really do come true! I’m overwhelmed in so many ways, as I’ve only recently turned 17 years old, but the excitement of being invited to join The Royal New Zealand Ballet outweighs everything else around me. The last 12 months have been very busy for me, as I’ve been in six different countries. With excellent training and guidance, I’ve managed to stay strong in my body, mind and spirit.”
It’s only the beginning, but so far has it been what you were expecting?
“I relocated to New Zealand mid-May after competing in the finals of the Alana Haines Australasian Awards a few weeks earlier. So this is a sudden change of life for me. Everyone at the company has been so wonderful with helping me adapt to the day-to-day schedule. All my expectations have been superseded. I wasn’t expecting to be cast in the first production only three weeks after arriving. I could never thank our Artistic Director Patricia Barker enough for believing in me and giving me this life-changing opportunity.”
How are you finding the adjustment from student to professional dance life?
“To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, as it was my intention to complete a few more years of training at a finishing school before auditioning for a company. To my delight, although I’m the youngest and the least experienced dancer in the company, I’ve felt very well prepared. Nothing has been a surprise or shock to me. My last three years of full time training has prepared me well for life on a day-to-day basis in the company. It is a credit to Gillian Revie, who has been coaching and mentoring me along with her expert staff at Classical Ballet 121. Their unique program includes all the aspects of company life to prepare you for a career. I couldn’t have asked for a better transition from student to professional life.”
Last night was your professional debut with the company. What did you find the most challenging?
“I wasn’t even cast for last night’s performance. I was asked to fill in on the day, as one of the dancers was injured on the opening night of Black Swan, White Swan. I didn’t really have time to stress about it. I just had to stay focused on the job and do my absolute best. RNZB is a touring company, I think that once I go on tour in a week or so from now, that will present a whole lot of new challenges I’ve never had to experience before.”
What are three things that you would tell other young dancers who are pursuing a professional dance career?
“1) Listen to corrections and remember them. 2) Be you; don’t try to be someone else. Be generous, and dance from your heart. Leave the audience with a little bit of you. 3) Work hard in the studio every day; it will reward you. You are on your own journey; don’t compare yourself to others.”
By Dolce Fisher of Dance Informa.