In the shadow of the pandemic, West Australian Ballet has made a bold move to invigorate the Australian dance industry by creating seven new full-time positions within its Company, an unprecedented gesture of faith in the face of COVID-19, and a critical investment for the future of the arts in Australia.
When asked why now, Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella knew that this ambitious investment in Australian talent was necessary to create opportunity in a generation of dancers whose careers could otherwise be adversely impacted by the pandemic.
“This confident action by our Company underlines the responsibility we have as a leader in the Australian arts community,” Scannella said. “This decision to provide security to the next generation of graduates, it builds our Australian dance industry and makes it clear that arts are essential to our lives. To see Australian talent disappear due to the pandemic would be a tragedy. It has long been my goal to increase the size of West Australian Ballet, and the time to start this mission is now to create a brighter future for our Company and for the arts.”
It’s with this ambition, and the support of West Australian Ballet’s Board of Directors, that the seven current Young Artists for 2021 will have the offer of full-time positions in the Corps de Ballet and seven new Young Artists will join the Company in 2022.
“An increase in the number of dancers is needed to support the health and wellbeing of all our dancers, which is something that is very important to me,” Scannella explained. “It also enables us to consider new artistic opportunities of size and scale that has not been previously possible. This will help us connect to new audiences around Australia and the world.”
He continued, “Receiving a dancer contract is incredibly challenging around the world at this time. A lot of companies are still not performing, and many dancers are sadly moving on to other things. Our current Young Artists are immensely talented and have bright futures. I couldn’t risk them going into an environment with so few opportunities.”
Long being a champion of dancers’ physical and mental health, Scannella will now be able to deliver larger scale opportunities as well as proactively balancing the health and wellbeing of the troupe with dancers, who often perform multiple roles in performance seasons, increasing the likeliness of fatigue and injury.
West Australian Ballet’s Board moved with confidence on Scannella’s plan following the success of the Company’s Endowment Fund and continued box office growth. This investment in Australian artists will, however, require ongoing support from Government, corporate partners and private donors.
West Australian Ballet has recently launched its ‘Pas de Deux’ program, inviting corporate partners, private donors and Government to partner with the company by supporting individual dancer’s positions, and share in the vision to build Australia’s future in dance.
For more information on West Australian Ballet, visit waballet.com.au.