Elevating artistry and versatility: AMPA’s Dance Department spotlight

Photo courtesy of Academy of Music and Performing Arts.
AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.

The dance department at Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) is gearing up for its August season, NOVA, at the NIDA Playhouse Theatre. With performances three times a year, AMPA‘s Bachelor and Associate of Dance students are given ample opportunities to refine their craft, enhance their stage presence, and cultivate professionalism.

AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.
AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.

The demanding schedule of producing a show every trimester fosters adaptability and efficiency among students, crucial attributes in the competitive dance industry. Dr. Maya Gavish, Head of Dance at AMPA, emphasizes the importance of versatility for aspiring dancers, stating, “Versatility is paramount in the dance industry. Our graduates exemplify this by seamlessly transitioning between diverse roles. They might spend their days rehearsing for a contemporary project, teach ballet in the afternoon, and perform in a cabaret at night.” AMPA‘s productions showcase a rich tapestry of dance genres, from ballet to contemporary to musical theatre and commercial, reflecting the diverse landscape of professional dance.

Dr. Gavish underscores AMPA‘s commitment to equipping students with a comprehensive skill set essential for success beyond the stage. “In addition to rigorous dance training, students at AMPA develop choreographic, production, arts management and teaching skills, ensuring they are well-rounded professionals capable of navigating various career paths within the industry. In AMPA shows, students take the reins backstage, mastering stage management to ensure seamless productions. From coordinating logistics to overseeing technical aspects, they learn firsthand how to orchestrate performances efficiently.”

AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.
AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.

During their second year, several students at AMPA showcase their final choreography projects onstage. This intensive process spans an entire trimester, during which students meticulously plan every aspect of their performance, from scene outlines to movement, music selection, costumes, and lighting design. This hands-on experience instils a deep understanding of the creative process and the practicalities of production, equipping students with invaluable DIY skills. Dr. Gavish highlights the significance of this experience, noting that many alumni flourish as independent artists due to their firsthand knowledge of bringing their own work to fruition.

Dancers’ quotes:

 “The process of developing, creating and producing Trepidation has been an absolutely invaluable experience. Overcoming obstacles and working through problems has shown me how difficult, yet rewarding, the creative process is.” – Ethan Barrett

“Creating this work has been such an amazing journey. I have enjoyed being able to experiment with movement and characterization. Seeing my vision come to life over the past few weeks has been such a surreal and rewarding experience.” – Jedd Scott

AMPA will present 'NOVA' in August at NIDA Playhouse Theatre.

A distinctive feature of AMPA‘s program is the exposure students receive to a diverse array of guest choreographers, including international talents. These collaborations expand students’ artistic horizons, pushing the boundaries of traditional performance and fostering innovation. Notable choreographers like Raul Tamez bring their unique cultural perspectives to AMPA‘s stage, creating thought-provoking pieces that resonate with audiences on a profound level.

“In one trimester, our dancers delved into the enchanting realm of aerial dance, suspended from the ceiling,” Dr Gavish notes. “In another collaboration, they joined forces with Flamenco and contemporary dance artists, melding the rich traditions of both styles to forge a dynamic new movement language.” These experiences exemplify AMPA‘s commitment to pushing boundaries and nurturing innovation in dance.

Furthermore, AMPA‘s strong ties with leading dance companies in Australia provide students with invaluable networking opportunities. Graduates often find employment with these companies, illustrating the enduring impact of AMPA‘s connections beyond graduation.

In NOVA, AMPA will debut a new piece by acclaimed choreographer Idan Cohen, renowned for his visionary work with Ne.Sans Opera (Canada). This collaboration underscores AMPA‘s dedication to showcasing cutting-edge choreography and pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.
AMPA’s Dance Faculty. Photo by Wenny Tan.

Moreover, AMPA remains committed to supporting its alumni, inviting them to participate in every show. This trimester, alumni dancers, under the direction of Angela Hamilton, will present a segment of her immersive work, Ritual, offering a glimpse into the continued creative evolution of AMPA graduates.

In conclusion, AMPA‘s dance department offers a holistic approach to dance education, nurturing both artistic excellence and professional versatility. From student projects to collaborations with international and Australian choreographers, AMPA‘s productions serve as a platform for artistic innovation and career development, leaving an indelible mark on both audiences and aspiring dancers alike.

NOVA will premiere on the 9th of August and run till the 10th at NIDA Playhouse Theatre. Tickets will be available via Ticketek mid-July.

For more information on AMPA, visit www.ampa.edu.au.

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