TAFE SA/Flinders University students have gained invaluable experience and insight into the life of a professional dancer through a collaboration with Australian Dance Theatre which included a world premiere performance.
Nine third-year dance students joined Australian Dance Theatre (ADT)’s Artistic Director Daniel Riley and the company’s artists on stage for the premiere season of SAVAGE at the Dunstan Playhouse earlier this month.
Student Jasmine Williamson-Gray (pictured at TAFE SA's AC Arts studio) says she was in disbelief at times to think that she was part of the large-scale production.
“I was ecstatic when I heard about the opportunity. You wouldn’t get this experience anywhere else,” Jasmine says.
Fellow student, Tayla Hoadley says there was a lot to be gained from the experience and she enjoyed rehearsing and performing alongside ADT’s artists.
“Sometimes I still can’t fathom this experience, and the fact that I have been lucky enough to be a part of SAVAGE,” Tayla says.
The first major work that Daniel Riley has created for ADT, SAVAGE is a confronting exploration of the notions of myth and identity.
The dance work examines our fundamental belief systems, turning the spotlight on those who hold the power of storytelling and challenging us to question our blind obedience.
Jasmine, Tayla and their classmates in the final year of the Bachelor of Creative Arts – Dance, which is delivered by TAFE SA and Flinders University, balanced their study with rehearsals at ADT for several weeks before shifting to full-time rehearsals in the lead-up to opening night.
Any nerves, they say, were settled by the warm welcome and encouragement they received from all at ADT.
Jasmine: “For me, it’s been really insightful and valuable as a dancer and as a person to see how Artistic Director Daniel Riley and Associate Artistic Director Sarah-Jayne Howard contemplate ideas and make decisions and how that leads to the next stage of the process.
“I’ve also enjoyed watching the professional dancers and how they embody the instructions so quickly.”
During the rehearsal process, she says she has learnt to embrace her strengths, manage challenges and contemplate “different movement possibilities”.
“I’ve gained a greater understanding of industry standards and I’ve been able to forge connections, develop myself more as an artist and I feel more prepared to go into the industry,” Jasmine says.
“When you come out of a training institution, you know a lot about technique, but it takes a while to develop your own language as a dancer and this opportunity has sped up my development.”
Tayla says the supportive environment provided by ADT’s Daniel Riley, Sarah-Jayne Howard and each of the dancers, enabled her to make the most of the opportunity.
“Being involved in this project has allowed me to experience what it is to be a part of a professional company in Australia,” Tayla says.
“I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a company's choreographic process, and the pleasure of learning from different people and bodies in class and during rehearsals.
“I have learnt how to conduct myself and how to push myself in the professional environment, and I have seen how beautiful it is to be a part of such an inclusive and collaborative environment.”
As a student, Tayla says it was an “epic” experience to perform at the Dunstan Playhouse in front of a large audience.
“During the last show, I was just reflecting a lot on this experience, and the fact that I’m performing on stage with company members of Australian Dance Theatre and the Artistic Director – like, that’s just unimaginable,” she says.