Nelson Earl: PPY Graduate to Helpmann Award Nominee


24 July 2018

Nelson Earl began his dance career with Sydney Dance Company as a Pre-Professional Year (PPY) dancer in 2015. The years since have been filled with tours, awards, and adventurous new ground. Nelson was offered a Traineeship with Sydney Dance Company in the final days of his PPY studies, and is now a full member of the Company. His performances have garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, and was featured as a New Breed choreographer in 2017 with fellow Company dancer Cass Mortimer-Eipper. Nelson was awarded Most Outstanding Dancer and Dancer to Watch in Dance Australia’s 2017 Critics’ Choice Survey and nominated in the 2018 Helpmann Awards for Best Male Dancer.

We spoke with Nelson about his journey from PPY to Company dancer.


Can you describe your experience of auditioning for PPY?

To be honest I had low expectations going into the audition. There were a lot of mature artists. I remember Jesse Scales leading the room for repertoire and thoroughly enjoying her demonstration of the phrase we were learning

How did you feel when you were offered a position in the course?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Can you describe your experience as a PPY dancer?

I am a strong advocate of the course and how Linda Gamblin has structured it. Each week is a new set practitioner/choreographer. This structure cultivates a ‘beginner’s-mind’ mentality that penetrates habitual thought processes we so easily abide to. It taught me that everything is fluid. Some weeks tested my ego a lot more than others. Plenty of self-reflection.

How did you first join Sydney Dance Company?

It was good timing. A member of the Company was injured so I was asked to fill his role for the National Tour. I must’ve made a good enough impression for Rafael to give me a traineeship the following year

Is there a piece of advice or learning from PPY that you still think about or work with?

Dare to be wrong.

Would you recommend the PPY program to aspiring professional dancers?

Yes. Not only aspiring professional dancers but to anyone. The course is so much more than just a means into the Company. It can be a transcendental experience if you let it be. You get out what you put in. Be generous!

Applications are open now for PPY2020

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