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Photo Eva Schroeder

Four full-time elite dance students from Canberra Dance Development Centre (CDDC) will pointe, pirouette and plié their way into prestigious dance schools across the country and as far as New Zealand. Jessica Robertson, Isabella Wolter, Bethany Gillard and Riley Jane Dickie prepare to graduate from CDDC’s full-time elite course and enter tertiary programs next year.


he dancers, all aged 17, have been accepted by audition into Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) for full-time tertiary courses starting in 2017. Bethany Gillard has been accepted into QUT on the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship, offered only to the top four students in the whole year. Gillard has been dancing for 13 years and favours contemporary style. “It’s a bit scary to move to Queensland on my own, but it’s also really exciting,” Gillard says. “I have the support of all my family, and being on my own will just be a big adventure. The Canberra dance community is so small, so it’s exciting to be able to see what else is out there.” When she graduates with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance, Gillard hopes to join a contemporary dance company. Jessica Robertson will continue her dancing journey on the other side of Australia at WAAPA. She has been dancing for 14 years and also favours contemporary. Robertson says she researched WAAPA’s program and found it to

be suited to “what I needed to continue to get to where I want to get”. She hopes to end up in a company that blends both classical ballet and contemporary style. “I’ve only ever danced at CDDC,” Robertson says. “So it’s very exciting to get to work in a different environment and experience a different program.” Riley Jane Dickie and Isabella Wolter will both move to New Zealand to study at NZSD. For each of them, it will be their first time to New Zealand. Dickie says that NZSD has been a place she’s always dreamt of going. “It has a phenomenal success rate, impeccable training and stunning performances,” she says. “I’m so excited about exploring a new country. The whole experience will be a nice challenge.” Dickie’s dream role is Juliet from Romeo & Juliet. “Ballet is my life. I’ve only been dancing for five years; before that I was an Olympictraining gymnast, but now I can’t imagine my life without ballet.” Wolter says that NZSD also really “spoke” to her. “I’ve been dancing for eight years, doing

ballet for seven, and want to pursue a career in ballet and contemporary dance. I researched NZSD and it really spoke to me. I felt if I went there my dancing would get stronger and my technique would get better. “It’s a big move, but I’ve heard it’s a lovely place to live, and to be able to dance in such a beautiful setting – it really is my type of place,” Wolter says. “Dance is such a beautiful art form, and it makes me, me.” Jackie Hallahan, Director of CDDC, says that it is a pleasure to be able to work with up-andcoming young dancers and help them reach their potential. “It’s very exciting to see them grow and become better and better dancers,” Hallahan says. “I spend every day with these girls and to see them leaving to pursue their dreams and their dance careers is really very exciting.” There will be an opportunity to see the girls dance at CDDC’s vocational dance students 2016 performance season with Authorize at the ANU Arts Centre, 8 and 9 December. - Laura White


Profile for Canberra Weekly Magazine

08 December 2016  

08 December 2016