This month, we profiled one of our talented Dance Class Member, Kumiko Sueda.
She was the winner of our September Members competition for attending the most number of classes in a month, winning a private class in heels with Steph Thomas!
We spoke to her about her introduction to dance, what drew her to learn so many styles and what advice she has for non-dancers who are first starting out.
Q. When and how did you start dancing?
When I was a teenager I was a big fan of musicals and I used to believe that I was too weak and clumsy to try jazz dance. I may have been one of the oldest students who had the least dance/physical ability prior to attending Sydney Dance Company. When I turned 46 years old after socially dancing salsa for a few years, I thought that it was now or never. I began taking a jazz dance classes at Sydney Dance Company in June 2015. It was my first time learning a routine. Initially, my body was so uncoordinated and for several days after a class, I used to wince whenever I sat down because my thighs were unbearably sore. The good thing was that the class had many friendly regular students who I still look up to, including those in their 70’s. They always encourage me to keep coming. Another highlight was when I finally joined Georgette’s class at the age of 50. She has been skilfully guiding me and showing her beautiful world of contemporary dance to me ever since.
Q. Why do you dance?
I think dance is what people do to express emotions and stories. Although I take many dance classes, I have not reached that level yet. I keep taking classes dreaming that I will start “dancing” someday. This obsession is my driving force. Since I began from a very low level, everything I do is an “improvement”. It is exciting to tackle something that makes me feel awkward, keeps challenging me and delivers results especially at the age when people usually start staying in their comfort zone. Support from the teachers and the friendship with other students are definitely major factors which make the journey enjoyable and fascinating.
Q. What classes do you attend at Sydney Dance Company?
Having a Sydney Dance Company membership allowed me to try all types of beginner level classes. Now, I regularly attend JFH, Hip Hop, Theatre Jazz, Contemporary and Ballet. I occasionally attend Lyrical, Jazz, Stretch and Pilates.
Q. What do you enjoy most about classes at Sydney Dance Company?
I enjoy its family-like culture the most. Teachers/administration staff/students are all extremely friendly. Some of them have been with Sydney Dance Company for a few decades, and many people recognise Sydney Dance Company as their “special place”. In addition, I also love its strong focus on dance technique training. the teachers are knowledgeable and willing to continually invest in the students.
Q. What has been the most valuable advice given by your teacher in class?
“If you want it, you have to earn it.”
Q. What has been the biggest challenge as a dancer?
Everything… slow reaction time, lack of concentration… I get to work on these each time I come into class.
Q. What’s your favourite dance style and why?
I love a variety of dance styles, and heels dance is one of my favourites. It’s the combination of JFH and lyrical dance with a sprinkle of ballet technique depending on the routine. It’s unique and heels embody a certain power, like the cape on a super hero. In my opinion, they put us in the mood and help empower us with confidence.
Q. Who are your favourite teachers?
Steph Thomas is one of my favourite teachers, having chose her as the teacher for my competition prize. I particularly love the teachers who give me personal corrections. I am also thankful to the teachers who greet and encourage me outside of their class.
Q. What would you say to a non-dancer to come along and try a class for themselves?
I would like to share what my teachers/friends have told me. “Keep coming to a class” and “compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to a person next to you”. Experienced dancers and non-dancers are like different animals. Non-dancers struggle only to memorise routines due to weak choreographic memory. I believe choreographic memory can be trained like a muscle. There is no short cut, and I’ve learnt repetition works. If non-dancers are eager to make up for the lack of experience, we can practice outside the class. For JFH and Hip Hop, I review dance class videos and practice the routine by myself at my own speed, trying to let the moves sink into my body. Many of my dance friends, especially those who take ballet classes, including experienced dancers, train extensively outside the class. Having good friends who are inspiring and encouraging really helps.
Become a Dance Class Member for the first time before 31 January 2020 and enjoy the third month FREE.