This month, we profile one of our talented dance class regulars, Joseph Restubog. Joseph began his dance journey at Sydney Dance Company Studios last year with our four and eight week Intro Short Courses. As an opera and stage director, he started dancing as a means to build on his movement vocabulary and expression.
We talked to him about his dance inspirations, favourite classes, and experience as a beginner dancer:
When and how did you start dancing?
I started dancing late last year with the Intro to Lyrical course at Sydney Dance Company! I am an opera / stage director and I initially wanted to expand my movement awareness and vocabulary onstage. After a few more introductory courses (Ballet 1 & 2 and Jazz) and Beginner Ballet classes, I realised dance is another form of expression for me.
Why do you dance and who inspires you?
I love dance because it is lyrical, expressive, beautiful – and it is all in the realm of your control. Like singers, your body is your instrument, so you must take great care to maintain fitness, technique, and mindfulness to ensure safety, execution, and performance. I dance to develop my ability to express via movement – I want to get to the point where I can develop dance pieces set to music. As I am relatively green when it comes to dance, I am not as aware as I can be in terms of dancers or choreographers that are inspirational throughout history. However, I am inspired by modern dance in music, such as the Maddie Ziegler’s choreography in Sia’s Chandelier and Elastic Heart, as well as Sergei Polunin’s choreography in Hozier’s Take Me to Church.
What classes and courses do you attend at Sydney Dance Company Studios?
I’m currently finishing up the Intro to Jazz short course with Liz Marcobello (a cardio and core workout!) and I am taking the Beginner Ballet class, most recently with Noah Gumbert. I do intend to take Beginner Lyrical or Contemporary classes, as well as more Intro Short Courses, such as Theatre Jazz, in the near future.
What do you enjoy most about classes at Sydney Dance Company Studios?
I enjoy the extremely empowering effect it has on me – before the Intro Short Courses at the Studios, I had no inkling that I could dance in any official form. The introductory courses, especially with teachers like Vi Lam, James Taylor, and Liz Marcobello, have helped me understand the basic terminology, steps, moves, turns, and jumps of Lyrical, Ballet and Jazz dance and have given me the confidence to pursue it even further. I enjoy the physical and mental challenge it provides – you need to be focused and mindful and in complete control of your faculties in order to safely and successfully perform your dances.
How have the Intro Short Courses helped you on your dance journey?
It has launched me into my dance journey – it has set the foundation I needed to tackle the Beginner classes, to hold my own, and to develop my own personal drive to become a better dancer. It opened up a new world of creativity and possibility – I had the permission to dance and to believe myself to be a dancer. I’m excited to see how far I can develop!
What has been the most valuable advice from a teacher in class?
There are many tidbits of advice that are helpful – like engaging the lats, getting rid of that “hump back” that impedes the crucial elongated and straight centre, and adding sensitivity and maturity to refine the port de bras. However, the most valuable lesson is to get out of your own head and “just do it”! At some point, you have to just jump into a sequence and trust that your body and mind knows what to do. If you abstract this, sometimes you just have to get out of overthinking and overanalysing in life and just go after your goals and dreams.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a beginner dancer?
The biggest challenge for me is developing my flexibility. Splits are ever so out of my reach, but now it’s a goal I’ve set, so I believe it’s a matter of continuing the work and making progress.
What has been the biggest surprise for you starting dance?
It has been the support and comments I have gotten when I share this with friends and the world. Being called “graceful” was not something I thought would apply to me, ever, and it made me believe that I am capable of much more if I allow myself to do it.
What’s your favourite dance style? Who are your favourite teachers so far?
Wow, I’ve had so many great teachers, particularly in the Intro Short Courses, who have all been empowering, supportive, and inspiring. Vi Lam was the first teacher to introduce me to the possibilities of dance – his expressiveness and sensitivity is something I aspire to. James Taylor had a professional, expert command of ballet, yet he made it accessible and possible to even the greenest of dancers. Noah Gumbert has confidence and charisma oozing out of his pores, yet when I first started Beginner Ballet, he walked around, acknowledged each dancer and mindfully identified me (and others) as newbies. He then adapted his class to assist all levels of dancers, while being supportive and yet still challenging us to excellence. Liz Marcobello is full of energy and positivity, yet she can also be a drill sergeant, albeit constructive and encouraging, when she wants to get more out of us. It’s hard to choose a favourite style, as I’m still learning, but Lyrical seems the most natural to me – applicable to my style of directing and my inner style of expression.
What do you do outside the Studio?
I am a stage director, having built a diverse and substantial body of work in opera. This year, I am directing my first musical with UNSW Musical Theatre Society – Bonnie and Clyde with music by Frank Wildhorn – as well as directing the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini for Lyric Opera Central Coast. I also have recently started to take singing lessons with good friend and former Opera Australia principal artist, Christine Douglas – combined with dance, this could be my parallel journey into being a performer on stage!
Enrol now in our Intro Short Courses, designed for beginners and those with limited dance experience.