Another year has (so quickly) passed, and 2024 is right around the corner. It’s a great time to reflect on the past year – highlights, milestones, good times and bad – and think ahead to the fresh start of a new year. Here, Dance Informa speaks with several professional dance artists to hear about how they sit with this transition, and how they plan to refocus their intentions and goals for 2024.
When you look back on the past year, what was one of your top personal highlights?
Zachary Lopez, company artist with Australian Dance Theatre
“Reflecting on this year, it’s challenging to pinpoint a specific moment that is the crème de la crème of highlights! If I were to scope it down to an idea, it would be the relationships formed, strengthened and continued through collaboration. We at ADT nurtured, magnified and enhanced this idea of collaboration through various forms. Whether it be epic major works or creative processes/developments, my highlight comes down to the friendships made both professionally and personally throughout 2023. Big love to our dear friends at The Australian Ballet and to choreographer extraordinaire, Ghenoa Gela.”
Katherine Minor, soloist with the Royal New Zealand Ballet
“My highlight of the year was also a career highlight. It’s been one of my biggest dreams to dance Juliet, and this year I had the opportunity to work with Andrea Schermoly on creating the role. It was an experience both onstage and in the studio that I’ll never forgot. I felt the luckiest to share this with a Romeo [Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson] that I’ve always loved dancing with as a partner, and who is very good friend.”
Sophie Jones, artist with Sydney Dance Company
“Working with Netherlands-based choreographer Marina Mascarell for the Ascent program was a wonderful way to start my year. I researched a new way of moving my body that I love. She truly taught me how to strip back the layers of dance and focus on the why.”
Storm Helmore, Co3 dancer/independent artist
“Three performance seasons for three different works in three months – including Raewyn Hill’s ARCHITECT OF THE INVISIBLE for Co3 Contemporary Dance, performing on the Heath Ledger Theatre stage. It is rare for me as an independent artist to have performance outcomes for different works so close together, and it was such a delightful few months.”
Shaun James Kelly, soloist and Choreographer in Residence of the Royal New Zealand Ballet
“A personal highlight for me was being commissioned by Acting Artistic Director David McAllister to create the finale work, Prismatic, for Platinum, the RNZB’s 70th Anniversary Gala. My work was a homage to founding directors Poul Gnatt and Russell Kerr and was a work for the whole company, honouring the history of the RNZB and showcasing the huge talent of the company now and into the future.
As a dancer, I got to create the role of Benvolio in Andrea Schermoly’s Romeo and Juliet. It is a dancer’s dream to work closely with the choreographer to create an in-depth character and bring them to life on stage. I also got engaged this year!”
How are you going to make the most of your holiday break?
“Spending Christmas in my hometown Yamba with friends and family. Also, doing activities I enjoy like surfing and yoga, things I don’t get to relish as much while working full-time in the city and touring.”
“Looking forward to hanging out with my family and friends in Scotland and Denmark, and meeting my partner’s family in Croatia. Maybe a little babysitting of my nephews and niece (but not too much!) and hopefully enjoying beautiful white Christmas.”
“In a very nostalgic way – I will be camping with my family in Queensland at the campground we visited every year when I was a kid. I plan to spend as much time swimming, fishing and crabbing as I can and can’t wait to share this experience with my daughter and husband.”
“A personal mantra of mine is ‘rest when you can’! This idea is of course subjective, so ‘rest’ is constructed in a multitude of forms. For me, rest during the upcoming holiday break is focused on the idea of ‘home’. I am from Meanjin (Brisbane), my partner and I care for place on Wiradjuri (Capertee Valley) and I reside on Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide). So, the holiday break will involve lots of driving, time with family/friends and rest in all these places = home. Excited!”
“I want to soak up the sun as much as possible! I also love swims in the ocean. This year, I’m going to maximise both by spending a week in the Cook Islands. My family will also be visiting from overseas, for the New Zealand summer.”
What are your plans for the new year?
“I will enjoy a change of scenery and a change of pace for a few months, living by the beach in NSW to be close to my husband’s family. Then, I will return to Perth for a choreographic commission and hopefully some more dancing and performing.”
“2024 looks like a very thrilling year! Other than developing new work and performing, there are some exciting personal and professional development opportunities that I am striving towards. I will continue caring for land on Wiradjuri with a large scale tree planting session in Autumn next year with Birdlife Oz, and I aim to engage with Butoh as a dance theatre technique with goals to implement these learnings into creative practice.”
“I have been undergoing an injury for the past several months. During this time, I’ve learned about my body more deeply. I feel very excited about coming back to dancing with a new perspective and more knowledge about myself.”
“As Choreographer in Residence, I’m looking forward to revisiting my creation of Prismatic for the RNZB’s Tutus on Tour Season 2024. I am reworking the piece for 10 dancers in the company and extending the length of the work, using the whole of the Brahms Variation on a Theme of Haydn.
As a soloist, I can’t wait to revisit A Midsummer Night’s Dream and one of my favourite characters to perform as the mischievous Puck. I’m also looking forward to Infra by Wayne McGregor – a dream work – and new creations by Alice Topp and Sarah Foster-Sproull. I love working closely with choreographers on new projects.”
“In 2024, I’m eager to delve into new creations in the studio and perform in theatres across the UK, US, and Europe in my third year with the company. A very exciting year ahead.”
How do you hope to refocus for the new year?
“The focus changes each year as I evolve as an artist. Filtering through concepts and questioning how I enjoy moving my body, and what my weaknesses are that I can take on as a challenge. Looking forward to what 2024 holds.”
“Getting a huge family fix! It’s always good for a dancer’s creativity and feeds the soul! Reflecting on my 10 years with the company, I look forward to welcoming our new Artistic Director Ty King-Wall and an exciting future and year ahead in 2024 with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.”
“To keep engaging with the multifaceted self. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2024, both professionally and personally. So, each facet of this needs ongoing processes. I’ve always worked well with setting mini goals to achieve the larger ones. So, I’ll be implementing this strategy as a refocussing exercise in the new year.”
“I hope to continue strengthening what I’ve learned are weaknesses. This, and the idea of being back onstage soon, gets me focused quickly. Having some time away from performing has made me miss it and look forward to it in a way I haven’t before.”
“I will reflect on my career so far and think about how to keep building on what I love doing over the coming years. Performers in dance don’t always have opportunities to continue as we get older, so I’ll be thinking about how to keep the momentum rolling.”
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.