Pre-Professional Year Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Hadley


30 July 2020


Erik Sawaya

“I wasn’t expecting to thrive so wholeheartedly, actively challenging myself within a creative environment.” 

With Pre-Professional Year (PPY) 2021 applications now open, we decided it was the perfect time to catch up with a few PPY Alumni to chat about their experience of the course. This week we’re featuring 2019 PPY graduate Olivia Hadley.

Experience full-time training with Sydney Dance Company and cultivate sophisticated movement and an inquisitive mind. Applications for 2021 close 14 September.
You were in Sydney Dance Company’s Pre- Professional Year 2019. How was the experience for you?

I really enjoyed my year with PPY. One of the key things I experienced was a revolution in my ability to express my physical, mental and spiritual independence. My inner dialogue became more vibrant and I felt empowered to express myself within my craft. I developed a deeper connection to my truth and have redefined my personal meaning of freedom, which I now experience as something that comes from being truly comfortable and confident within myself. Throughout the course, I realised that my uniqueness and strength shape my identity as a creative individual which also gives me the ability to transform the world in which I live.

Can you think of something small that you experienced that had a big impact?

The many discussions we had as a group were something that although seeming inconsequential at the time, ended up creating a lasting impact. We would often have open tutorial discussions that allowed me to reflect and contemplate my own thoughts and opinions. In these discussions, we were encouraged to explore our values and ideas with others, which lead to more genuine interactions with my peers, educators and mentors. Being in this constructive, safe environment allowed me to continually grow and prosper.

What are you most grateful for from your time in PPY?

I am grateful for the many mentors and choreographers I was fortunate to train with, some of whom significantly assisted me in discovering the direction I wish to take with my life, not just within dance. I feel that I now have a clearer picture of what steps I need to take to further realise my ambitions. I am also grateful that this course illuminated the idea that time and age don’t predetermine my rate of growth as an artist.

I am keen to research many areas of the art form and I no longer fear the long journey ahead nor the slow process of developing my practice. I know the journey will be an authentic one in which my ‘successes’ will be a reflection of my efforts in pursuing the paths that fulfil my ambitions.

In what aspects of your personal development did you experience growth?

Throughout the course, I felt a genuine development in my maturity, particularly in relation to understanding more about the body-mind connection as well as the biomechanical functions and roles of the body in dance. I’d probably attribute my progress to a few contributing factors; the interdisciplinary physical training including ballet, yoga and body conditioning as well as contemporary, the encouragement of self-reflection aided by constant open dialogue and the research I undertook while putting assignments together.

Was there anything you learned throughout your time with PPY that you weren’t expecting?

I wasn’t expecting to thrive so wholeheartedly, actively challenging myself within a creative environment. The stable and supportive atmosphere helped me to establish the importance of not letting the pressures of training diminish my ability to continually explore and trust my body. I learned it is okay to not always know the outcome and to put greater trust in the process. There is a strong emphasis on our connection to an intuitive mind and body and working in this way allowed me to challenge myself physically without sacrificing my mental health and wellbeing. This also allowed me to form a more sustainable and healthy relationship with myself and the art form.

Applications for Pre-Professional Year 2021 close 14 September.
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