This month, we shine a spotlight on one of our talented members, Clarissa Harrison. Dance has been a huge part of Clarissa’s life for as long as she can remember. She regularly attends our Ballet, Contemporary and Lyrical classes. When she’s not in the Studios, you can catch her on stage as part of Twisted Element, a dance theatre company.
When and how did you start dancing?
I started dancing at the age of three. My older sister danced so mum decided to put me into ballet class too. So dance has been part of my life for about 16 years! I begged my mum to also let me do tap when I was younger, and a few years ago I began to explore contemporary dance.
Why do you dance?
Dance lets me go into my own world. For my entire life, if I had any problems, dance allowed me to forget about my worries, even for a moment. Although it can sometimes do my head in, I love the challenge of constantly pushing my mind and body. I just love the feeling of moving and focusing on my body and how it is feeling that particular day. I dance because I have to. I feel like there’s something missing if I don’t.
What classes do you attend at Sydney Dance Company Studios?
I mainly attend Ballet, Contemporary and Lyrical classes, but lately I have been venturing out and doing JFH, Jazz and Hip Hop more often. The Membership has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and take more commercial and urban classes.
What do you enjoy most about classes at Sydney Dance Company?
I enjoy the welcoming and friendly atmosphere created by everyone at the Studios, from the ladies at the front desk to the dancers chatting and stretching in the hallway. I enjoy sharing this energy with other dancers by doing what we love together.
What has been the most valuable advice given by a teacher in dance class?
To not worry about what other people think of you, and to just go into class and be yourself. Everyone in all aspects of life will judge you and have their own opinion of you; you can’t control that. What you can do is choose to not let it affect you by just embracing and being confident in yourself.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dancer?
Definitely being more dynamic in my dancing. I am naturally a very soft dancer so my teachers always remind me to be stronger or sharper in my movements.
A huge challenge has also been to keep dancing and training and doing what I love despite any doubts or lack of faith from others.
What’s your favourite dance style and why? Who are your favourite teachers?
My favourite dance style is Contemporary, especially the type with lots of floor work and the kind where you really get into your legs. I also love how Contemporary has many different types of styles within itself. I enjoy the creativity and versatility of it.
My favourite teacher in Contemporary and Lyrical is Georgette Sofatzis. She is truly passionate about pushing each student and never gives up on us. Her classes are so fun and are set so there are opportunities to continually push yourself and improve every week. I always come out of class knowing what I want to work on next time. I also love taking Catherine Goss’ class. She has so much passion in her dancing and teaching. She immediately brightens up the class and is always there to push the dancers and share her extensive knowledge and experience. Andrea Briody is also one of my favourites. She has such a gentle, calm nature and genuine care for her students.
What do you do outside the Studio?
I’m a second year uni student studying Physiotherapy. When I’m not in the Studios, I’m usually at uni daydreaming about dancing, or trying to juggle uni work in between dance classes. I also dance as part of an independent contemporary dance company called Twisted Element, directed by Angela Hamilton.
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