Perth Winter Arts Season 2014: Interview with Juliette Barton, Sydney Dance Company

filed20 Jun 2014 from Carmen Jenner CategoriesCultural, Perth

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It’s not like Perth doesn’t already have a plethora of talented dancers of our own, but we’re very fortunate to have the Sydney Dance Company join us this season. What makes “2 One Another” special for Perth audiences is that three of the dancers are locals, two of which studied at WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I was lucky to have a chat with delightful Perth girl Juliette Barton.

Sydney Dance Company

Juliette Barton and Andrew Crawford in 2 One Another

Why did you choose WAAPA to study dance?

Mainly because of its outstanding reputation and the course itself is so diverse and varied which presents its students with a broad range of skills for them build on throughout their careers. After completing an Advanced Diploma which offered both classical and contemporary dance, I then did a Bachelor of Performing Arts and joined LINK Dance Company which is an internationally renowned dance academy offered to WAAPA graduates.

How did WAAPA compare to a semester at Purchase College in New York?

New York was an amazing experience. I was only 19 and at that time there wasn’t any housing on campus so I found a room in White Plains which is upstate and about an hour from New York City. I was the only white person in the neighbourhood and there weren’t mobile phones around like there are now. It was very isolating but it gave me an opportunity to completely immerse myself in dance. The teachers at Purchase are world renowned and I joined the demanding Conservatory-style training program and performed in a collaboration with the American Ballet Theatre Company.

Describe your role in 2 One Another.

When it was first created three years ago I was suffering from labral cartilage tears around my hips; an injury very common among dancers. So initially my role was gentle and has now evolved into a mixed bag. I close the show in a quiet moment. What does a day on tour look like? Today is opening day which is always a long one. We start with a class in the morning, then there’s the media run-through, interviews and photos and so forth. Then we have a lunch break and a technical rehearsal, which is very important to do with each new venue so we get a sense of how to perform in each space. We have dinner and then it’s show-time.

How much work is involved with each show?

2 One Another was an 8 week creation from its inception but with this remount it was just a few days to bring everyone up to speed. Except for the newbies, who’ve had a lot of work to catch-up.

What’s the training schedule at the Sydney Dance Company like?

Our days run from 9.30am – 6.00pm and start with a techniques class and strengthening sessions like pilates, cycling, reformer exercises and working on body areas which need extra attention.

What do you think it takes to be a successful dancer?

You have to want it more than anything else in the world. Training and lots of hard work can certainly give you the physique required to dance, but it really comes down to motivation and believing in yourself.

Is it as glamorous as it looks?

God no! The hours are long and gruelling and there’s a short shelf-life. But there are many perks, like travelling. When I was with the Russell Maliphant Company in London we toured through France, Canada, Italy, Germany, Hungary and the UK. And of course having a permanent gig with the Sydney Dance Company is great.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a dancer?

I don’t know. I don’t have a Plan B but if it came to that, I’d work it out. Maybe go back to study?

What’s your speciality?

I don’t really have one. My roles are so varied and at the moment I’m working under Rafael Bonachela’s choreography. You’re usually fulfilling someone else’s vision but I’m working with “New Breed” which is an exciting programme for emerging choreographers. In November I’ll be performing at the Carriageworks in Sydney on my first solo show which is a personal exploration into the theme of dissection.

So far, what is the highlight of your career?

There are varying levels of success and many milestones; like your first job or being accepted into the Sydney Dance Company, who I’ve been with for six years.

What’s next?

Well, there’s New Breed, which is really exciting but apart from that we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Any advice to newcomers to the industry?

Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts and follow the path that you want to do. Sure, listen to the advice of others, but be true to yourself and have faith in your abilities.   2 One Another plays at His Majesty’s Theatre from 18 June until 21 June before touring around the state to Mandurah, Albany, Bunbury and Geraldton, and onto Queensland and New South Wales.

Check out the Perth Winter Arts Season 2014 and my blog for more events and reviews.

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