Katya Gray

Katya Gray: My time in Pre-Professional Year 2018

07 December 2018

In the lead up to PPY18 Revealed – the graduation performance of the Pre-Professional Year class of 2018 – dancer Katya Gray shares what she’s learned throughout the course and the lessons she’ll take away from her time with us.

“Coming into Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year, I was nervous, excited but above all – intrigued. I’d heard amazing things about the course, including many hours of improvisation, which terrified me as someone with a ballet background. However, a few weeks into term one, I fell in love with improvisation and realised it’s the backbone of contemporary dance.

This year has given me tools that I can use in all aspects of my life. I have met incredible people, learned beautiful lessons about humans, discovered things about myself and felt a massive range of emotions while working with new choreographers and experiencing new movement.

Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned this year has been during improvisation classes with Omer Backley-Astrachan, our Course Co-ordinator. I understand that contemporary dance is not simply telling a story for an outsider to experience. It is many things, but I feel that much of the time, it is a sacred form of witnessing life in motion held around a solid ‘truth’. A truth that starts from a concept, usually from an outside source. The dancer’s job is to put their own truth into it, deepening the meaning and performance. Omer has a great way of teaching in that he uses clear imagery which paints stories in my mind, enabling me to connect to a quality on levels further than skin deep.

These classes go hand in hand with Linda Gamblin’s ballet classes. Linda has taught me invaluable lessons this year I struggle to write in words. I have learned so much about technique and how we shouldn’t leave our ‘human’ side to become a ‘dancer’. Technique to me is an all-consuming energy that presents clarity inside out. Technique is not only having an extreme sense of awareness in a moment when performing but is grown over years of practice and held within our emotional and physical muscle memory. I am excited for next year’s group of Pre-Professional Year dancers to discover their ‘happy 5ths’.

Due to being lucky enough to have enjoyed workshops with an extensive list of choreographers from many countries, I couldn’t feel more ready to step out into the world of contemporary dance, knowing what I am interested in, how I want to work and knowing my worth as a professional dancer. I am keen to evolve further in this art form. However, I’m sad to leave this group of artists who inspire me daily with their passion for integrity and honest work.”

See the Pre-Professional Year 2018 dancers perform in PPY18 Revealed at Carriageworks, 12-14 December.

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