JUNE 2018, ISSUE 5 VOLUME 1
ODE TO ALL BREAST CANCER WARRIORS
The month of June is a very emotional edition for Dance Writer. You may have noticed our logo is pink to help raise awareness and show our support for Breast Cancer organisations. As part of our charity campaign, we are hosting a dance charity gala on August 4 at Gasworks in Melbourne that proudly supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This organisation is turning pink between June 18-24, which is why we have decided to dedicate this edition to all our Breast Cancer warriors past, present and future. It is with excitement we introduce our regular columnists Sandra Kluge from New York City, who is always on the ground running endorsing the Dance Writer brand, Ruth Letch—the dance mum / copywriter from Melbourne, Sian Corrigan, a Melburnian who is currently living in Paris on a Disney contract, and to our brand new columnist Jenene Land from The Dancer’s Pod bringing a podiatrist’s point of view to dance. www.dancewriter.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram and Facebook: @thedancewriter Twitter: @dancewriteraus Snapchat: dancewriteraus Editor; Jessica Poulter Columnists: Jessica Poulter, Ruth Letch, Sandra Kluge (NYC), Sian Corrigan, Jenene Land. All enquries: email@example.com
It was a great pleasure shooting our campaign front cover for the gala in late May where we posed among the autumn leaves and rose bushes of the botanical gardens in St Kilda. Our ambassadors proudly wore custom-made pink ribbon leotards designed by Couture Costume. Our photographer Alicia Ruberto, whose mother is also going through Breast Cancer, took awe-inspiring photos of the dancers. I am confident this gala will truly exceed expectations in both levels of entertainment and in our fundraising ability. With our magazine growing every month, we want to thank all our supporters who loyally read our content and get involved in our events. Don’t miss out on our entrepreneurial event June 6 at the Exchange Hotel! Jessica Poulter Editor-in-chief
NEWS Lucy Doherty....................................................................5 Brianna Taylor..................................................................6 Dalisa Pigram....................................................................7 PROFILES Nadia Komazec...............................................................10 FEATURES Stephanie Murphy..........................................................11 Daniela Zoe Croci...........................................................13 COLUMNS Jenene Land (Stretching)............................................16 Sian Corrigan...................................................................18 Ruth Letch (Melissa Togni)........................................20
@thedancewriter REVIEWS Sydney Dance Co...........................................................22 @dancewriteraus COMMUNITY Tahlia Gerosa..................................................................23 Mia Hayward...................................................................24
AMBASSADOR CHAT....................................................26 www.dancewriter.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram and Facebook: @thedancewriter Twitter: @dancewriteraus Snapchat: dancewriteraus Editor; Jessica Poulter Columnists: Jessica Poulter, Ruth Letch, Sandra Kluge (NYC), Sian Corrigan, Jenene Land. All enquries: email@example.com
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DANCE WRITER GOES PINK JUNE 18-24 IN SUPPORT OF NATIONAL BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION
SUSAN WALL PHOTOGRAPHY
LUCY DOHERTY'S GIFT TO ALL BREAST CANCER WARRIORS Sydney-based dancer and choreographer Lucy Doherty will release the third instalment of her film series ‘Dancing For Jane’ this Mother’s Day in memory of her own mum who lost the battle to Breast Cancer. On November 9, 2014, Lucy’s world imploded when she lost her mother Jane Doherty to breast cancer at age 54. Jane was not alone in her battle. According to the Cancer Council Australia, 16,614 women were diagnosed in 2014. The current statistic says onein-eight women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer by the time they turn 85. Through transforming her pain into a poetic memoir on film, Lucy aims to bring awareness to the often silent struggles with grief that many people can face after losing a loved one, or witnessing someone they love going through something as traumatic as Cancer and Cancer treatment. This project allows her to use dance as a tool for her own healing as well as a way to
connect with others who might be sharing a similar journey. Even though Lucy still struggles to speak about her loss in day-to-day life, she finds strength in performing an emotive dance on film. Her first of the three instalments in collaboration with cinematographer Patrick Mazzolo is 6TEEN DREAM, featuring Lucy on a desert plain moving irrationally while screaming in silence.The second instalment MANDALA focuses on the themes after sudden grief—love and sorrow—as she dances through thick mud and flowers to show devotion to her mother’s legacy. This project was nominated and shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award in 2017 for Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film. Now, Lucy is back for the third instalment REMINISCENCE, which is a collaborative project with renowned choreographer Sarah Boulter. Referring to the quote, ‘All that we love deeply becomes a part of us’ showcases Lucy’s endless love and admiration for Jane. As .
a mother’s day gift, Lucy is releasing a link to the third instalment via Facebook on the morning of 13th May 2018 "It is a topic that is hard to talk about but dance has the power to transcend words. I have found it to be a powerful way to process, grieve and share my journey with others,” said Lucy. To watch the anticipated short film REMINISCENCE, go to Lucy Doherty's YouTube channel or Lucy Doherty’s website. lucyjanedoherty.com/
“When we lose somebody we love, it is natural to seek the emotional support they once provided to us in other people, relationships, and circumstances when really the comfort we are seeking and ultimately our healing is already existent within us. The deepest bonds of love cannot be broken, rather they become a part of us and are calling us to remember what is already there.
NEWS / 4
Rhythmatic Tap Company accepts first Australian dancer Brianna Taylor Brianna Taylor is the first Australian to be accepted residency with Los Angeles' Rhythmatic Tap Company, kickstarting her journey by performing in their upcoming stage show On Top of the World. Brand new tap company Rhythmatic has announced its two new residence members Brianna Taylor and Chloe Arnold. Founded by 25year-old Nick Young (So You Think You Can Dance), Rhythmatic Tap Company evolved after Nick’s viral self-produced tap video to The Beatles ‘Come Together’ reached more than seven million views and was later shown on NBC’s new hit TV show World of Dance. Rhythmatic Tap Company has already been awarded 2nd Runner up at the 2017 Capezio ACE Awards for choreographic excellence since its establishment in 2017. Brianna Taylor, a Capezio athlete ambassador, starred in the tap production Mickey’s Christmas Big Band at Disneyland Paris before she relocated to Los Angeles to commence her residency at Rhythmatic.
This is such an exciting time for tap, especially to be a female tap dance artist. I’m humbled to be able to make a living from what I love and I cannot thank Nick Young enough for this opportunity to be a part of his company in LA,” said Brianna.
ONE-WOMAN DANCE PIECE ‘GUDIRR GUDIRR’ COMES TO SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE Co-artistic director of Marrugeku Dance Company Dalisa Pigram brings her internationally acclaimed one-woman dance piece to the studio of Sydney’s Opera House from June 27. Gudirr Gudirr fuses traditional and contemporary dance with Silat (Malaysian martial arts), spoken word and projected text, in a searing performance that lights a path from a broken past to fragile present, and towards an undetermined future. As a multicultural with both Indigenous and Malay heritage, Dalisa produces culturally informed works to audiences around the globe about social and political issues stemming from very raw and personal connections. “I’m exploring some of my concerns for my community and country, and coming to terms with our not so nice history…it is on a very personal level,” says Dalisa.
‘Gudirr Gudirr’ can be translated as a “small bird that calls to tell you when the tide is turning”. Dalisa’s grandfather (or great uncle in other terms) who has stood by her since the inception of this dance piece helped title her work.
“I hope the audiences will come with open hearts and be able to take on the concepts I am exploring. I hope they appreciate the process and movement that is drawn from raw and very personal connections to a place and people.”
“You are just like that little bird, that little bird is telling people to get to higher ground or you’ll drown,” Dalisa says, reminiscing.
There are many contributors assisting to this one-woman piece including choreographic collaboration with Belgian choreographer Koen Augustijnen, and visual artist Vernon Ah Kee providing highly technical installations. This combination between art and dance provides the basis for Dalisa’s Greenroom award and Australian Dance Award, including a Helpmann nomination.
Metaphorically, the tide is turning in many ways in our communities. Dalisa says, “We are faced with devastating issues like suicide in our young people at such high rates, which is something we do not like to claim as having the highest rates in the world, it is one of the saddest things we have to live with every day.” Dalisa adds the tide turns with regard to industrialisation on First Nation soil and being at those crossroads of staying true to your culture but also evolving with other cultures.
This is a must-see show that is bound to captivate and educate. You can purchase your tickets from the Sydney Opera House website.
To enter, purchase yuor ticket to 'How To Be An Entrepreneur and the winner will be announced at Dance Writer's event on June 6 at the Exchange Hotel Port Melbourne.Â
AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL! SPRINGS INTO MELBOURNE THIS JUNE From the Tony Award winning minds of Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), comes a hilarious, high-energy spectacle. David Venn, in association with Stage Masters, presents the Australian professional premiere of BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL! This cheerleading spectacular hits Melbourne audiences between June 716 at The Athenaeum Theatre. Dance Writer chats to the principal cast member Nadia Komazec who plays Campbell. DW: You play the lead role in Bring It On The Musical! What makes Bring It On! extra exciting for you? NK: I have been fortunate to have been a part of many amazing productions. Some career highlights were definitely Matilda and Legally Blonde. More recently, I have loved playing Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show. Bring It On! is unlike any other show I have ever performed in and I feel extremely honoured to be playing the lead role of Campbell in this production. Campbell is both a physically and vocally demanding lead role. Personally, it’s always a dream come true for me when I get an opportunity to utilise both skills equally in a musical and now on top of all that I’ve got to do cheerleading as well. I love a challenge and I am so excited to share this fantastic production with Melbourne audiences. There is a heavy cheer component in the musical. Do you come from a cheer background? How has cheer coach Natalie Commons guided everyone during the process?
PROFILES / 10
Although I have played a cheerleader before I have never actually done any cheerleading. If I’m being completely honest, I was terrified when I heard that our choreographer Michael Ralph had plans of throwing me in the air. However under the wonderful guidance of Natalie Commons I can now confirm that I LOVE CHEERLEADING. I have so much admiration for Natalie and for all of our professional cheerleaders in the show. They are so skilled at what they do and it is so inspiring to watch. I feel very grateful to get to experience a small taste of such an amazing sport. How does the musical differ from the Bring It On movies? I think audiences can expect the same vibrancy and energy that fills the screen in the film. The stage show is explosive and exciting with all of the live cheerleading stunts happening right before your eyes. Growing up I too loved the movie. In fact I can still recite the entire cheer section from the film. Slightly embarrassing! The storyline differs in many ways however there is still a strong theme of friendship and equality. Audiences can expect to be entertained, wowed and blown away by the talent of this incredible cast. How has the rehearsal process been for you? What have been some of the challenges or obstacles that you overcame?
Our rehearsal process is extremely short. Personally, I enjoy the fast paced nature of a short rehearsal process as it forces cast members and creatives to dive head first without hesitation or uncertainty. With the cheerleading component required of every cast member it makes the short rehearsal process seem even shorter. Learning the cheer stunts were initially quite confronting however it wasn’t long before I was asking to fly again and again. With such a wonderful team of cast and creatives all looking out for each other the rehearsal process has been painless, aside from a few small bruises. What influence do you think this musical will have on cheerleading as a sport in Australia? Our production is all singing, all dancing and all cheering. It is eye opening to see humans do such incredible stunts and I hope audiences are inspired to go home and see what else they can discover about cheerleading and arts. More than that I hope that they leave feeling inspired to take a leap, be brave and be true to who they really are.
The Australian professional premiere of BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL is playing for a strictly limited season at The Athenaeum from 7-16 June. Tickets are on sale now via bringitonthemusical.com.au.
Breast Cancer strikes twice in one young family
STEPHANIE MURPHY Stephanie lay on the couch beside her boyfriend watching television. As she reached up for stretch and gently grazing her inner breast on the way up, she found an unusual lump on her left boob. The then 22-year-old Stephanie Murphy was diagnosed with triple negative Breast Cancer after many ultrasounds and biopsies. Doctors initially said her lump was benign— because why would a fit and healthy 22-year-old have such a disease? But with Breast Cancer running in her family, doctors quickly raised eyebrows. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would be fighting for her life in her early twenties.
Story by Jessica Poulter
After her diagnosis, Stephanie spiralled quickly into a burning reality known as hell on Earth. Her treatment began with a lumpectomy, then the removal of her lymph nodes, followed by a fertility egg collection, not to mention four painful rounds of intense chemotherapy, a double mastectomy straight to implants and the list continued. Her skin around her breasts died, which allowed for wounds to open. Her implants were removed and she had expanders put in. Not long after, she had a fat grafting surgery to try fix the fragile thin skin on the boobs. With infection after infection, Steph was hit with every bug that came her way. Despite her physical adversity, no pain could ever compare to the painful sorrow of losing the woman who brought her into this world.
Stephanie Murphy is a Diva Dance Photography ambassador. Photo: Leah Hoffman, Diva Dance Photography.
“I remember hiding in my mum’s cupboard one day getting ready to jump out to scare her. I was just about to do the big jump when I heard my mum and dad walk in, and mum sounded really sad. I heard her say to my dad, “The Cancer has spread” and I could only imagine how scared my mum was,” Stephanie reminisced.
“No matter the age, history or not—I would never wish breast cancer upon anyone or family.”
STEPHANIE Stephanie was just six-years-old when she found out her mother had Breast Cancer. What was considered a long, painful and treacherous six year battle ended in heartbreak and loss. The Cancer had spread through her entire body. The battle became one-sided, weighing in favour of the cancerous cells. Her mother took her last breath at age 40 while her three daughters and life long partner watched her soul float out of her body. It is tragic for any daughter to live her life without the witness of her mother, particularly facing the same battle her mother faced with such bravery. Stephanie misses out on the small joys like having her mother give her away at her wedding or introducing her children to their grandmother. It is something so sweet and innocent that Breast Cancer has now stolen from young Stephanie. As a result, Stephanie never had a normal childhood. Her classmates would stay up all night playing video games and laughing about kid jokes, while Stephanie stayed up all night listening to her mother howl in pain, crying ferociously.
“But that’s okay because, maybe, if I didn’t go through everything I went through with my mum, I wouldn’t be as strong and fierce as I am today fighting my own battle!” It has been a year since her diagnosis and she is stronger than ever. She’s had six surgeries and has lost all her hair but still smiles like an energetic 23-year-old. Stephanie is a proud Diva Dance Photography ambassador, posing in aweinspiring shots and unapologetically showing her battle scars. Initially, the thought of having no hair for a young woman posing in high quality editorials, Stephanie’s confidence hit rock bottom. Photographer Leah made Stephanie embrace her baldness in the most beautiful way imaginable with golden beads to decorate her scalp. “It was so much fun flaunting my glittery bald head! Showing off all my battle scars has been a great way to share my story, and raise awareness for breast cancer!”
Stephanie has always been an energetic girl, competing in Calisthenics at Heathergene Calisthenics club for many years. The idea of performing in a team still makes her smile. She may come back to her beloved sport one day but her double mastectomy restricts her from doing things she used to do. “Exercising and staying overly positive is what helps me get through my day to day life!” Stephanie’s life mission now is to help raise awareness for Breast Cancer and help fight the statistics back to zero. As organisations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation receive no government funding, spreading awareness is even harder. “Every year breast cancer diagnosis figures seem to increase. Younger and younger people keep getting diagnosed. Women need to know their risk and be taught how to self check,” Steph advised. “No matter the age, history or not—I would never wish breast cancer upon anyone or family.”
Nine months that transformed her life
DANIELA ZOE CROCI Zoe considers herself a very strong person, and it is contagiously empowering how much she trusts her instincts. Even with such a diagnosis, she knew: “I can do whatever I have to do, it is all part of my healing.” Daniela Zoe Croci was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in summer 2014 after doctors found a lump during a routine checkup. She went through nine months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Italian born, now New York resident Zoe, has been dancing for as long as she can think, and, even though it is not the only thing in her life, she feels that it is her main passion. It was easier and cheaper to receive treatment in Italy, so she stayed
Story by Sandra Kluge NYC Dance Writer contributor
there for the entire nine months of her life with Cancer. Friends of hers had a local dance studio down the road, where she went to stay fit. Dancing kept her happy and going. During that time she discovered a lot of “evolutions,” as she calls it, which she could not access when she was younger. In those four years since her diagnosis, her dancing changed a lot, it progressed, matured, and gained depth. Zoe’s diagnosis was a painful to take in. Like the strong dancer and creative she is, Zoe took it in her stride. Overcoming Cancer has helped her become a different person—a happier one. After initially feeling “mad at the universe” because her professional and personal life had seemed to be going very well, she quickly...
Photo: Massimo Di Marzio
Zoe is the founder of the eclectic production company Zoe Map Films, she loves bringing creative people together.
“Sometimes as an artist you don’t know why you do what you’re doing, you just feel like you have to.” Her experience has brought her closer to this “why”: “I love to connect beautiful people, brains, and talents, and to see them blossom.”
“That is what chemotherapy does. It makes you a sick person. And then you rise from it after.”
DANIELA ZOE connected to the admirable power within her. Being overseas for her therapy made her feel far removed from her life in New York City. People around her felt lost, not knowing what to do or say, and close friends disappeared in helplessness. “It was tough,” she admitted, scrunching her brows. The pain of her chemotherapy could not be compared to the one of the surgery. Losing all her hair, having a metal sensation on her tongue, and being completely filled up with chemicals caused her to feel more like a robot than a person. “That’s what chemotherapy does. It makes you a sick person. And then you rise from it after.” Zoe managed to maintain the incredible strength within her. Even with an IV in her arm restricting some of her mobility, she still kept dancing. “At that moment you can’t understand. But I felt I was chosen before, [with] the chance to change something. When you’re taking life
CROCI the wrong way, that’s when diseases like [Cancer] knock at your door.” The disease as well as the yoga and meditation practice that derived from it “brought up lots of fears and problems I hadn’t released. I was very stressed and drained, not [dealing with] emotions in a good way, and putting my peace in jeopardy for others and outside [influences].” When Zoe came back to the U.S., she put up an event about her disease called “Nine Months Rowing Upstream.” Being the same timeframe as a pregnancy, it is like she experienced a rebirth herself. For the event, she described her experience in nine pages and picked nine people from the audience to read each one and discuss afterwards. Meanwhile, pictures on the screen behind them showed her transformation throughout the disease. Pictures that look like the caption of a strong warrior rather than a sick person. Today, Zoe is “embracing life in a different way.” That also translates into her art and how it resonates with other people.
Photo: Andréas Hernández. Story by Sandra Kluge.
“Sometimes as an artist you don’t know why you do what you’re doing, you just feel like you have to.” Her experience has brought her closer to this “why”: “I love to connect beautiful people, brains, and talents, and to see them blossom.” She feels more aware of what it is she can give. In dancing as well: “You’re giving yourself. It is like being completely naked and giving yourself to everyone. It is a big moment of sharing humanity.” Expressing yourself without words is very powerful to her. “Language can be a big barrier. [In art], everyone can interpret and find their own message, recognize themselves and their own stories, reflecting what you project out.” Learning about Zoe’s story and her incredible transformation is truly inspiring. She reminds us that no matter how difficult the circumstances, choosing to root into our power rather than our fears can completely change our reality. Dance —and any kind of art for that matter—is a miraculous tool to connect to this pure essence. So next time you ask yourself why you put on those dancing shoes: remember you will at the very least transform your own life, one step at a time, and maybe even touch somebody else’s. Just like Zoe.
KYLIE MINOGUE, AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS AND SINGER, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR
“ONE IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW IS YOU’RE STILL THE SAME PERSON DURING IT. I’M MORE EAGER THAN EVER TO DO WHAT I DID. I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING.”
Stretching: how far is too far? Words by qualified podiatrist Jenene Land Imagine a happy and bright five year old girl in the living room with her big sister, practicing back bends like they always do. When suddenly the young girl feels a snap in her back, resulting in a back fracture and no longer able to walk. It sounds horrific, and yet this is a true story of what happened less than five years ago to a promising dancer. It puts in perspective just how fragile our bodies are and even more so is the growing body of a child. There has been an increase in young students seeking medical advice because they want to become more flexible, and they have been trying to do it by themselves— hurting themselves. This doesn’t mean that being flexible is bad, and that you shouldn’t do it, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I have issues with people being flexible. I am more concerned about how it is being achieved and ensuring that dancers can control that mobility once it is achieved. Dancers begin their training usually in the early stages of development, meaning they are exposed to rigorous stretching and training schedules as set by their teachers. You must understand that the bones in the growing body are not fully formed, often these are segments of bone coming together and fusing during puberty. This means that bones and joints are in a vulnerable state during their childhood and should be treated as such. Before I can talk about stretching, I must first talk about joint stability. Let’s divide muscles into two major groups: global and local.
Stretching: how far is too far? To put it simply, global muscles are designed to help us
First, dancers should know how to stretch effectively.
move our bones. They are the bigger muscles that lie
Most dance studios will have scheduled one
closest to the skin surface and can run over several joints.
stretch/conditioning class per week. This is fine to help
Local muscles are smaller. They are situated closest to the
maintain a level of flexibility, however it will not help you
joint and stabilise an individual joint. There can be multiple
to improve your flexibility. This usually means that you
local muscles that aid in the stabilisation of an individual
need to practice when you are not in the
joint, however this is dependent on which area of the body
stretch/conditioning class. If asked, how long would you do
you are focusing on.
think you should hold a stretch? This feels like a trick
So, what about over-stretching?
question, many dancers believe that to feel a stretch, you
A twelve year old girl is winning competitions, booking
need to hold it for several minutes.
professional jobs—the sky is the limit for this dancer. One
What if I told you that there is a more effective way to
day she notices her hips are sore, however a dancer’s
achieve your flexibility goals? The great thing is there have
mentality is to shake it off and continue dancing. But the
been many studies indicating that to achieve the desired
pain in her hip doesn’t go away. Later it’s discovered she
effect of creating more pliable muscles, you need to feel a
has ruptured the blood supply to the head of her femur
constant stretch for slightly longer than 30 seconds. I like
(leg bone) in the hip socket and requires surgery, and is
to think of this as the muscles ‘switching’ off after this
told that she is likely never to dance again.
amount of time.
Now I am not saying what happened to this dancer is the
Would you think that after being in a stretch, that
result of over-stretching, but it can be a contributing
effectively switches off the muscle’s reflex loop, that it is
worth holding it for longer? Not really.
Most often by stretching an area in a certain direction will
There are many factors that a dancer must consider
actually make it weaker, as you would be stretching the
before partaking in flexibility stretching. If you are new to
local muscles and ligaments that support the joint. This can
stretching, a little each day focussing on one area at a time
then lead to instability, and ultimately weakness around
is the best place to start. Get your body to trust you and
that particular joint.
your flexibility will improve. And those dancers that I
What can dancers do to get more flexible?
mentioned above… well, they are doing great, and are now stronger than ever.
SIAN CORRIGAN The doctor says two months, you say one. The physio says six weeks, but you know you’ll be back at class in three. Trust me I’ve been there, I know how absolutely frustrating it is getting injured—and as Murphy’s law suggests, injuries crop up when you are at your peak.
What I do hope to do is to share the hard lessons I learned throughout my own experience so you can hopefully avoid making the same mistakes I made. In retrospect, I wish people had told me at the time to listen to medical advice as my recovery would have been much quicker.
In 2016 I injured my ankle, and despite it not being broken, it took me away from dancing for far longer than expected. It just didn’t seem to get better because I kept dancing and didn’t allow it to heal properly.
If you do find yourself injured, the one thing you must do is to take away the guilt. I want to remind you taking six weeks off dancing because your doctor told you to, isn’t going to undo any of your hard work. You may come back a little stiffer or less fit than you were before, but those things will come back quickly after you fully recover.
I’m not here to tell you how to look after an injury because I’m not qualified to do so.
Sian Corrigan is the founder of the dance blog No Standing Only Dancing. She is also a columnist for Dance Writer.
If you’re feeling bad about not being in class, take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, ‘I am doing everything I can’. The next thing that was extremely difficult for me to learn was it’s okay to say no. I said yes to doing a performance two weeks after injuring my ankle. TWO WEEKS!This meant I was dancing only a few days after coming off crutches and it was honestly one of the most stupid decisions I could have made.
CORRIGAN I felt like I couldn’t say no because the person who asked me was someone I considered to be important in the industry. I thought if I turned it down I would never be asked again. But I what I’ve learned since is that no gig is worth putting yourself at risk. The choreographer would have fully understood that. Something else you might consider doing during your down time is setting goals for what you want to do when you recover. There’s nothing like a bit of a break that gets you excited for what’s coming. It really helped me to plan out what I wanted
to achieve with dance and reignited the good old motivation flame! I even made a vision board. It’s such a fun way to feel like you’re still working towards something while you rest. Lastly, as much as we all wish injuries didn’t exist, sometimes it’s also our bodies way of telling us that we do need a break. It’s important to try and change your perspective of injuries being such a negative, life-ruining thing. Rather, think of it as potentially an important reminder to listen to whatever signals you are being given. Whether that be from your own body, or the universe (if you’re into that sort of thing).
As much as having time off dancing can seem like the worst thing in the world at the time, the way you react to it can be a true test of your resilience. We all know what a vital personality trait resilience is for a dancer. If you are injured currently, and find yourself feeling down about it, just know that you will come out the other side stronger, and ready to take on the dance world. Keep your head held high, your injury iced, and your vision board in sight! You’ll do just fine.
Until next time, Happy Dancing xx
MICHELLE Story by Ruth Letch As she bravely steps into the spotlight, Melissa fully embraces the gift she is granted; a Cancer diagnosis that shows her the beauty of life. The disco lights flash and a mirror ball glosses above, hanging elegantly from the ceiling. Melissa channels her nerves as she quickly runs through the choreography with her fellow dancers. Although she grew up dancing to 80s music in her bedroom singing happily into her hairbrush, never did she think she would be standing backstage dressed in Madonna-esque leather and lace. Melissa Togni is an advocate of the importance of ‘healing as a whole,’ the balancing of our mind, body, and spirit to help fight disease.
Diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer in June 2012, she credits her holistic approach, including involvement with an adult dance class as having a marked impact on the balanced and healthy life she now lives. According to Christina Devereaux’s (Ph.D., BC-DMT) article published in Psychology Today, Cancer patients who “dance, move and be in their bodies” display many positive effects, from shorter hospital stays to reduced need for medication. Positive psychological benefits and enhanced emotional well-being are also cited as a result of engaging in dance. The inner strength and harmony Melissa experienced changed her life. Through dance, she is able to reconnect with her body, to feel strong and centered.
TOGNI “To put on music and start moving was incredible. Each step gave me power; I felt less vulnerable, less fearful. I believe it was true healing—as a whole. I forged a beautiful connection between my body, mind, and soul. It’s a crazy, beautiful amazing story,” said Melissa.
Story by Ruth Letch
MICHELLE Recent information from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation reveals there were more than134,000 new cases of Cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2017, and in the same year, nearly 48,000 Australians passed away from a Cancer-related illness. Sadly, these figures indicate that “Most people will be touched by Cancer at some stage in their lives, either personally or through friends.” It’s all too common. The myriad of health benefits resulting from consistent exercise is proven repeatedly. Organisations such as Cancer Council Australia encourage everyone to undertake daily exercise to reduce our risk of developing Cancer. However, there is growing medical evidence that, for adults or children suffering from Cancer, dance and movement has a therapeutic power to help them fight and heal. After seeking medical advice, Melissa elected to have a full hysterectomy, but not to undertake chemotherapy.
Passionate about health and nutrition prior to diagnosis, Melissa always ate organic, alkalizing food and exercised regularly. However, she believed her body was ‘unbalanced’ due to a difficult personal situation in her life, and felt a strong pull to ‘reconnect with her feminine’ through dance. As a non-dancer, finding an adult class was daunting, but she discovered Born to Boogie Dance Connection and never looked back. Six years later she has never been healthier.
Initially, Melissa was totally side-swiped by the discovery of her aggressive Cancer. She felt frightened, vulnerable and totally disempowered. Conversations with doctors left her uncertain and full of questions. However, on top of the wellknown benefits of exercise, she found that joining a weekly dance class gave her a safe space to work through her feelings, both emotionally and physically. Learning something new brought the students together; the bond providing a strong support network of belonging and positivity. Such moments of empowerment helped Melissa to find her voice when working with the medical professionals to develop her best course of treatment.
Programs such as Perth’s Exercise Medicine Research Institute are being trialed across the world as researchers determine the effects of exercise used in conjunction with Cancer treatments. The physical benefits are multi-faceted, from increased energy, muscle mass, and cardiovascular health, to developing balance, flexibility and bone strength, all so very important to ‘counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment’. On a psychological level, dance helps people to communicate, addressing common issues such as isolation, depression, anger, fear, and stress. It provides an avenue to express emotion and allows patients a level of control over their bodies, so important when they may feel so threatened by their illness. Facing the challenge of performing on stage, so totally out of her comfort zone, also helped to reinforce Melissa’s selfconfidence and courage. “On the show nights, my diva takes over” she laughs, “It is the best fun, a total celebration of life and love. Life is to live, not to just exist.”
CONNECTS TENDERNESS WITH TURMOIL Are we relying on our primal instincts enough? Are we wholeheartedly embracing the art of loving making? Are we connecting with other humans on a basic level? 16 cast members of Sydney Dance Company unite to perform a new full-length work by artistic director Rafael Bonachela. It has been five years since his last original fulllength work, and audiences eagerly await to see what he produces this time around.
The show begins with a single cello string on repeat. The rigid black curtain with LED lights on its base rises up to the sky in heavenly fashion. Dancers stand motionless in the haze until they feel the impulse to move. A challenge poses itself already because there is no interval. Bonachela has to work hard to keep audiences captivated for a whole 70 minutes. He does this fairly well. I catch myself staring at the dancers in some sort of trance at times, not blinking. The utter fluidity of movement between different contemporary pas de deux never stops to take a breath; it keeps on swinging in all sorts of directions. It is this kind of entanglement between floor work and bodily lifting Bonachela relishes in.
THE WORDS AB [INTRA], MEANS ‘FROM WITHIN’ IN LATIN, WHICH IS ‘AN EXPLORATION OF OUR PRIMAL INSTINCTS, OUR IMPULSES, AND OUR VISCERAL RESPONSES,’ SAYS CHOREOGRAPHER RAFAEL BONACHELA. FROM TENDERNESS TO TURMOIL, AB [INTRA] IS A JOURNEY OF INTENSE HUMAN EXISTENCE THAT WILL COMMAND YOUR ATTENTION. AND, IT DOES.
COMPANY’S AB [INTRA]
This journey of the human existence cannot live without the unforgiving physical element, which shows the dancers’ athleticism and faultless technique against the lush fuse of cello concerto with ambient electronica. The first extensive malefemale pas de deux is an exploration of gentle but steamy passion between two bodies. The dancers are touching each other at all times with some kind of body part, creating a sense of pure enveloping, like a flower growing its petals. As we watch this relationship blossom, the ensemble dances around them lonesomely, perhaps experiencing their own sense of turmoil—until the pas de deux ends on a somewhat sour note, and then the ensemble unifies to dance as one. Repetition of movement crops up consistently, which must have a purpose if Bonachela has something to do with it. It possibly represents the consistency with which we live our lives, day in and day out, toying with same synthetic themes. Are we learning from our human experience or are we looping them? ab [intra] is ultimately a bodily experience of human connection shown through admiral athleticism and raw emotion. Bonachela should be credited for his ability to create such poetic geometry on stage.
INAUGURAL TEEN WINNER OF MELBOURNE DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS TAHLIA GEROSA Dance Directory hosted its first competition Melbourne Dance Championships with Backstage Dance Academy’s Tahlia Gerosa taking out first place in the 13 to 14-year-old section. Tahlia Gerosa, 14, recently won the Melbourne Dance Championships with her lyrical routine choreographed by Timothy Barnes. It is an emotionally heavy routine, but a theme some young teenagers can associate with. “My interpretation of this routine is about self-blame and feeling like you have caused so much pain in someone else’s life. This routine is very emotionally powerful and means a lot to me,” explained Tahlia. Tahlia is working hard to make a career in performing and already has professional credits to her name. Her extensive dance training gave her the tools to master the role of Alice in the professional production of Matilda the musical when it came to Melbourne. “Being on the big stage at the Princess Theatre having the bright lights shine while hearing the audience applaud was truly the most amazing feeling. I met amazing people that I look up to and formed the best friendships,” said Tahlia, smiling. The musical theatre superstar is already immersing herself in the contemporary realm too. She recently finished her performance season with Indefinite Dance Company at Melbourne’s iconic Meat Market. Under the direction of Tahlia’s idol Casey Chellew, she has expanded herself in the style of lyrical. More than that, she has been a pivotal member of Scimm Dance Company alongside Melbourne’s best contemporary youth dancers. “I love dancing because I can move my body in ways I’ve never moved before.” You can catch Tahlia in the upcoming showcase with Bind Productions dance company performing ‘ELEVATE’ on July 21, which is co-directed and choreographed by Fiona Luca and Zoee Marsh. COMMUNITY | 23
ASPIRING CLASSICAL DANCER MIA HAYWARD WINS JUMP DANCE CHALLENGE HEATS DanceStruck studio student Mia Hayward, 13, has won the first major heat at Jump Dance Challenge for her age group. The Jump Dance Challenge ambassador claimed the top prize after performing an awe-inspiring routine Mia choreographed herself. The song ‘One Beautiful Evening' by Laurie Anderson became the stimulus for her creative movements. “This piece, I feel I have a really strong connection to the words and love that I can make up my own story to the music. Every time I perform this I connect in a different way to the audience and to myself and I believe this is because I am so used to doing my favourites, (classical ballet and lyrical) that I finally get to break all the rules and let my imagination free,” said Mia. The now 13-year-old performer began dancing from age two at DanceStruck with Miss Catherine and Melissa Fennell. As a young dancer, Mia felt determined to work hard and strive for perfection. She takes every class on offer at her studio including character, acrobatics, jazz, and more. But her favourite is certainly Classical ballet. “My preferred style would definitely be Classical ballet. I love the feeling of pushing myself hard to finally accomplish my hopes and dreams!” It is her hard work that puts her ahead of the pack. Dance is not only about keeping active and meeting new friends, it is Mia's heart and soul. One of her favourite moments in dance is the instant adrenalin rush she gets before leaping onto the stage. “I dance for the adrenalin rush…I don’t just do it because it is fun, I dance because I have too and without it, I can’t imagine what I would be doing after school and every weekend.” Mia’s passion will undoubtedly take her far in her dance career. She hopes one day to be dancing in a professional ballet company travelling the world.
COMMUNITY | 24
AMBASSADOR CHAT This month has been really busy finishing off my two solos and trio. I’v e never competed in acro before and I’m a little nervous to do an Acro solo and trio. First is rainbow next week! I still can’t believe I got to dance at Broadway Dance Centre in Japan. If you ever get an opportunity to dance somewhere take it! It was scary at first but amazing. Astara Jackson
It’s been a busy few weeks! Dancing has definitely been a big part of it! I have been working hard at MAPA. We have just started to choreograph end of year concert routines! It’s hard to balance our school and dancing because of school exams, but it definitely helps me with working on my organisation skills! Scarlett Brumby
This month has been busy but so exciting. Get the Beat comps, two days filming on a movie, auditioned for a lead in a TV show and started new dances for our mid year showcase at my dance school, CPD. But the best was performing in Masters of Choreography junior showcase. I performed in a contemporary piece, ‘Black Swan’. It was choreographed by Gulcan Gulen and was amazing. I’m sad that rehearsals and the performance are over but hope I get to dance with the same group of dancers again one day! Lani Hirst
I've been involved in the school musical ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I’v e never been in a proper play like this before so it was my first time and I absolutely loved it! The whole cast was so lovely and kind. Everyone helped each other. We performed four shows all together. The audience loved it and said it was the best show my school had produced in the last few years. Everyone who watched gave us such great feedback and it is something i’l l never forget. Of course at the end of our shows everyone was crying. Hayley Ellis
Unfortunately, as dancers, we are subject to injuries, which stop us from dancing. We always work so hard and strive for the best. We push our bodies to be better and better. Sometimes, this takes its toll on the body. Recently, I injured my hip and was unable to dance for a couple of weeks. This was so hard for me. Thankfully, after several treatments with the manipulator, I have pretty much recovered. This has taught me to stretch my body properly to prevent any further injury. It made me realise that we really need to listen to our body and look after our body if we want to keep dancing in the future. Tiana Bilos
This month I had the opportunity to compete at UDO dance championships with my hip hop crew. It was wonderful to be able witness some of Melbourne’s best talent and learn from other crews. Everyone supported one another and brought a positive vibe. At my dance studio we have also been working hard on our concert routines and everything is coming together nicely. Tayla Williams
The highlights of this month included performing in the Masters of Choreography as Billy Elliott alongside two other DW ambassadors, Sankara and Ayshia-Mila! I am also feeling very privileged to be chosen as a soloist for the Dance Writer charity gala “HER”. I’m currently choreographing my own solo for VCE dance. Rehearsals continue for my school musical, my jazz and ballet exams and my hip hop crew preparing for the Australian Dance Crew Championships – GO KADS KREW! The challenge continues regarding my schooling and how my studies can accommodate my dance aspirations. Lucas Faundez Dance is always full of challenges. Working hard, pushing yourself and going full out. I am facing my biggest challenge over the next few months after dislocating my knee this week. I was doing a turn I have done many times and slipped, hitting the ground. I had my first trip in an ambulance, plus my first experience on crutches and my first time not dancing. I am going to face this challenge positively. I will be on crutches for two weeks and the rehab from there. In my rehab I am going to focus on my core strength and upper body strength. I will come back stronger than ever. Daisy Boo
Last month I attended Melbourne Dance Championships. What an awesome new style of a dance competition. I performed in a real on stage audition then a solo to qualify for top 5. I then tried an improvisation and own choreography competition for the first time. I was really happy with my results and proud. I was so happy to see all my dance friends and watch them compete! I love watching other dancers perform –it really inspires me. Ash Siketa
This month has been exciting for me! We had our photoshoot for my dance school The Rage Dance Company. It was a full day with lots of cool photos and we got our new uniform, which I can’t wait to wear every week. There are many rehearsals ahead for our first troupe dance competition in a week's time. I am a little scared for my solo and duo but will try my best. This month I have been working hard on my turns I am improving but still need lots of practice. Milla Watts
This month I have been involved in the Rising Stars program at school. I choreographed a dance for a group of students and we performed at dance night at the school. It has been a great challenge to choreograph a piece that caters for dancers and nondancers. The dance night was a great success and I had a great time. It makes me realise that I really want to pursue my passion for dance. Maddison Bowly This month has been great to have a rest from Calisthenics solos! But also at the same time, it is very tiring working so hard to finalise competition items for Calisthenics. Recently, I have been training with Masters of Choreography to perform in their senior showcase. It’s so good to have the opportunity to work with so many other amazing dancers and choreographers. Last week, I went to see Ballet Revolucion, an incredible dance show that is currently touring! It was so entertaining and I loved it so much, I totally recommend it. Emily Ryan
Wow, what a great month in dance it has been. At my dance studio The Rage Dance Company, we participated in a photo shoot and had a great surprise from Miss Tayla in presenting us with our new uniforms, We had so much fun together getting lots of amazing photos that I can’t wait to see. I have also been working really hard on my new solos that I will be performing for the first time next week. Bella Jacobs
I have been working on my solos and my duo with my best friend Mila at The Rage DC and am super excited to announce that we will be performing our duo at the "HER" Dance Writer charity gala on August 4 at Gasworks. We also received our Rage DC uniforms and had a huge photo shoot to our launch them! Can't wait for the photos. I also performed at the junior Masters of Choreography showcase in Billy Elliot with my sister and fellow Dance Writer ambassador Lucas! I had such a wonderful time and made so many beautiful friendships. Sankara Stromei
I have learnt five new solos routines with different choreographers and love each routine. I am so excited for comp season to start in a few weeks so I can perform them on stage for the very first time. I am super proud and excited to have successfully received a half scholarship for Joffery New York! Hopefully, I am able to take up the scholorship, so I not only grow as a dancer but visit New York! I also performed in the junior Masters of Choreography showcase, which was an amazing experience. I loved performing in both Swan Lake and Billy Elliot and made so many wonderful new dance friends along the way. It was fantastic to be part of such a huge production and am so looking forward to the senior Masters of Cherography in July! Ayshia-Mila Stromei
AMBASSADOR CHAT A very exciting month of ‘Dance modelling’ for Studio 7 Dancewear and the exciting Poster for the Dancewriter Gala ‘HER’. I am so lucky to be wearing a custom made costume with pink ribbons from Couture Costumes to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. BRAVE: meaning for this month B is BLESSED to be involved in the dance industry R is RIBBONS of pink for National Breast Cancer Foundation A is for APPRECIATION of being selected to take part in some exciting campaigns V is VERTICAL leaps, something I am working on E is EXAMS not only Ballet but Tap too Sharnika 'BRAVE' Chamberlain
I competed in Kingaroy this month, which is one of my favourite eisteddfods.The highlight of this eisteddfod was performing my own choreography that I only put together two days beforehand. It was a BIG challenge, but I did it and I was happy to receive a great result. I also found out this month that I am coming to Melbourne to perform at the Gala Evening “HER” - such an honour. See you all soon Georgia Wall, QLD
This month I was selected to represent Theatrix Dance Centre in their Elite squad! We have begun learning our first dance in preparation for our first comp in July. This month I also competed in the State Dance Association Own Choreography competition and I received first place. I absolutely love creating my own dances - it’s a great skill to have as a dancer as many auditions involve improvisation, so always make time to practice this important skill! Brooke Humphreys
This month I had the wonderful opportunity of adjudicating at the Melbourne Dance Championships. I adjudicated the own choreography sections and ran two improvisation challenges. I loved being able to choose the music for the dancers and guide their movement with my instructions. I was blown away by all the talent demonstrated by all of the dancers and could have watched them improvise all day. This event was new this year and I cannot wait to see how it grows in the future. Keep an eye out for the next one dancers! Casey Chellew, Indefinite Dance Co.
Our ambassadors are performing at Dance Writer's charity gala "HER" on August 4 at Gasworks Albert Park
Melbourne. This is proudly supporting National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Help us raise funds by donating at www.fundraise.nbcf.org.au/fundraisers/dancewriters
We'd love to see you there! Tickets available from July via Gasworks website.
Photo: Leah Hoffman, Diva Dance Photography
This edition has turned PINK in honour of the National Breast Cancer Foundation raising awareness for Breast Cancer this month. Our columnis...
Published on Jun 2, 2018
This edition has turned PINK in honour of the National Breast Cancer Foundation raising awareness for Breast Cancer this month. Our columnis...