The road towards a career in professional dance can be a long and arduous one, but it can also be full of personal triumphs and great rewards. We chatted to Company dancers Chloe Young, Luke Hayward and Mia Thompson to delve a little deeper into the stories behind their success.
Chloe Young: I started dancing when I was two years old and 19 years later, I’m still going. I have a perfectionist streak in my personality which shows up in most of my endeavours but it made me particularly committed to dance. I’m a determined person with a lot of self-drive so I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ll always do my best to rise up to any challenge and even if it takes me a few attempts, I’ll usually get there. I have such beautiful memories growing up through dance, with the girls I danced with, my sisters and my family. I cherish that time in my life and I am sure it influenced the positive relationship with dance that I have now.
Luke Hayward: I grew up In Alice Springs and from an early age I was determined to get out into the world, to travel and experience new places. Dance provided an opportunity for me to do so while being something I was passionate about. Throughout my training, a lot of people questioned if I would be able to make it as a professional dancer. I was driven to prove them wrong and to prove to myself that the seed of doubt that had been planted was not going to pre-determine my success. I think if you’re passionate about something it’s important not to let yourself be limited by doubt or judgement.
Mia Thompson: I am one of seven girls in my family and there was a point when we all danced together. I was lucky that I really enjoyed dance and through this my self-drive and discipline allowed me to make a career out of it.
Chloe Young: There were moments throughout my full-time training when harsh comments were made and as an impressionable teen that has the potential to be incredibly damaging. I have a pretty tough skin and usually managed to withstand the negative impacts of a ‘tough love’ approach to dance training, which is lucky because that kind of approach can have long-lasting negative repercussions. I also think my tendency to want to prove those who didn’t believe in me wrong, helped me to forge ahead and rise up to challenges in times of doubt.
Luke Hayward: I believe we all experience these moments during audition periods. I had a long phase while auditioning when a lot of companies expressed very positive interest after I visited them, but then would email later saying they couldn’t offer me a contract for various reasons. I started to question if what I wanted was possible. I’m naturally a shy person, however, I decided instead of waiting for someone to give me the chance or for an audition to come around, I would make it happen by networking more and putting myself out there and eventually this paid off.
Mia Thompson: I have had many moments over my life where this has been the case which although challenging at the time, usually served in helping me to come out stronger. One moment that sticks out is when I was a student and I was told by my teacher that a career in jazz would be more suited to my abilities, knowing full well my aim at the time was to be a professional ballet dancer. Fortunately for me, this just strengthened my drive to keep pursuing my dreams and also to prove her wrong.
Chloe Young: I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I performed with Sydney Dance Company on my first tour as a trainee in 2018, but I’ll never forget the day I got offered a full contract for the following year. I was absolutely stoked!
During this time of no shows or tours, I’ve realised how lucky I am to do what I love and to have had the opportunity to perform for audiences all around the world. Performing at the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris was a beautiful highlight, but I also loved the opportunity to perform for all of my Brisbane friends and family when we toured to the Gold Coast last year.
Luke Hayward: I don’t think I can pinpoint one particular moment and that probably comes down to the fact that I’m always striving to develop myself further as an artist. I have appreciated moments along the way but they are fleeting as I’m quickly on to thinking about the next milestone. Having said that, there have been moments when certain choreographers and artists whom I truly respect have complimented my dancing and upon reflection, this did give me a feeling that I had ‘made it’. Those moments of recognition are something that I treasure.
Mia Thompson: It was a beautiful moment when I was standing on the stage at the Royal Opera House in London, ready to perform my first soloist role with Scottish Ballet. That is a memory I’ll always cherish, as it signified a great milestone in my career.
Chloe Young: I am extremely grateful to have a job that doesn’t feel like a job and that in itself keeps me motivated each day. Lately, there has been a lot of time to reflect and we’ve been forced to approach our work in a different way with physical distancing measures still in place and no live performances in the immediate future. This magnifies how much of a rewarding feeling it is to actually perform in theatres for audiences and highlights the privilege I am afforded to inspire people through dance.
Luke Hayward: There are still so many choreographers I want to work with and the idea of working and exchanging ideas with them excites and inspires me. I also find a lot of inspiration in observing other dancers which in turn influences how I choose to develop my dancing and artistic expression. I also find it useful to reflect on what it is that I can or want to contribute to the art form as an ongoing source of motivation.
Mia Thompson: At times I forget how special it is to be a professional dancer, getting lost in the day to day routine of it all but it is so important that I remember what a gift it is to dance as my job. Our current situation has forced us to take a backseat from performing which has allowed me to remember exactly why I set out to dance in the first place. Sharing my artform and love of dance again with our audiences in Australia and hopefully around the world is the one thing I cannot wait to do.