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Life on the road with Company dancers Bernhard and Emily

30 August 2018

A Company dancer’s life is certainly a busy one. From rehearsing new repertoire, local performances, to touring around Australia and internationally, there is never a dull moment!

We asked Bernhard Knauer who has been dancing and touring with the Company since 2010, and new Company dancer Emily Seymour what life on the road with Sydney Dance Company is like.

How many Sydney Dance Company tours have you been on, in Australia and internationally?

E: Since joining the company in mid February, I have been to Serbia, Slovenia, Paris and Wolfsburg (Germany) and nationally to Melbourne, Darwin, Mandurah, Bunbury, Perth, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Bathurst, Orange, Newcastle and finally Canberra. All up I have been to 16 different places on tour with Sydney Dance Company.

B: To be honest it’s been so many that I have stopped counting but I would say at least 9 National Tours that usually run between 5-9 weeks and maybe double the amount of international tours including Europe, Asia, North and South America.

What is your favourite thing about touring?

E: My favourite thing about touring is getting to travel around the world and being able to perform for such a wide variety of audiences. Also being able to catch up with friends in different countries and cities.

What do you like to do during your free time when you’re not rehearsing on tour?

B: I love exploring and sometimes simply getting lost in a new city. Wandering the streets of New York or Hong Kong without a plan is one of my favourite things. Often I try to avoid any tourist attractions and rather find some backstreet cafe or restaurant and take in the atmosphere.

Is there anything you find challenging about being away for long periods of time?

E: I have found as I’m getting older, being away from my loved ones is getting harder. Especially if I know I’m missing out on family occasions. Missing my friends at times also is a little challenging.

What is the strangest or most interesting place you have visited?

E: I think the strangest place I have been to was Serbia but after spending a day exploring the city, getting to know the heritage of Serbia and seeing all the ruins, it was very interesting.

B: Some places in South America can be pretty confronting and unsafe at times but on the other hand I have met the warmest and friendliest people there. Audiences in China are a lot more lively during a performance which I found strange at first. Shanghai is always a blast and it’s a very interesting city which is constantly changing from visit to visit.

Do you have a pre-performance tour ritual?

B: My pre-show routine is pretty boring and I try keeping it the same whether I am on tour or not. I always try fitting in a nap before the show as show days on tour can be gruelling. It helps being organised!

However I do like having a quiet moment on stage before the curtain goes up.

Can you tell us your favourite tour story?

E: I feel like I have a lot of favourite stories. Maybe one of my funniest ones was in Slovenia when I had my eyes set on a menu board outside a cafe and within a breath, a bicycle hit me like a lightening strike. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt but that sure taught me to look in every direction while in Europe, bikes are everywhere!

B: Often we meet locals who are very keen and proud to show us around. We jokingly call them “John” like “Santiago John”, “Bogota John”, “Orange County John” etc. We were travelling from Irvine to San Diego and decided we wanted to see what was on the way so “Orange County John” put together a care package including a frisbee, towel, snacks and a map that had all his favourite places along the coast. The best beaches, cafes and sights were included. So we rented a convertible and went for it. Best day ever. This sort of thing happens more than you think.

Is there a particular item or accessory that you always travel with?

B: Noise cancelling headphones are a must!

Do you have any advice for those about to go on tour for the first time?

E: Make the most of the time you have on tour and if you haven’t been to a city before, go and explore! For myself, I’m a very social person but tour definitely teaches you a lot about yourself and alone time is always good, don’t forget that! If you’re one to struggle with leaving your family and friends behind, know that they will always be there for you no matter what and tour is only temporary. Don’t dwell on the past, be in the present and look forward to the future!

B: Find the balance between the excitement of being in a new place and being fit and rested for the shows. Travelling and dancing can be exhausting but hugely rewarding.

Catch Emily and Bernhard on stage at Canberra Theatre Centre in ab [intra] 30 August – 1 September.

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