QUESTIONS ASKED TO PROFESSIONAL DANCER - recent questions asked by a Bachelor of Fine Arts Student
Hello All =D Recently I was sent a Q & A from a lovely young full time student who had to interview an Australian Professional dancer for her Bachelor of Fine Arts. I found all of the questions a joy to answer and hope you also find the answers helpful & insightful.
Who was your most influential teacher and why? That’s a really tough question! I feel as though each teacher has brought something truly imperative to my dancing & to my career. As we all have our own learning styles, personalities and traits - I found too that each teacher taught in their own way, communicated differently and had vastly differing knowledge. This made me connect with each teacher in a different manner. As a student I had to learn how to be incredibly adaptable to adjust to each teacher’s style, personality & approach to how they conducted their classes or passed on their knowledge. Each teacher brought something to me that to this day I utilise - and for every single one of them - I am forever grateful. What was your most memorable experience throughout your dance career? Again, there are so many moment and each memory holds a very special place in my heart. There isn’t a lot that I don’t remember about my dance career and I always looks back on it fondly. However, if I had to pin point one specifically, I would say my first ever show with my first professional company: Sydney Dance Company. I was so young and quite literally dancing amongst stars! I was so humbled to be part of the company and within a week of being in an artist with SDC we were off to Shanghai to tour for 3 months. We were creating, producing and collaborating with the Shanghai Song & Dance Ensemble. Honestly, the whole experience was utterly mind blowing for someone so young, had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was all real! What quote or affirmation has stuck with you? "Hard work surpasses talent, when talent doesn’t work hard" - I have seen this quote in action so, so many times throughout my dance training and career. It really holds true. What do you do in order to prepare for a performance? Besides a lot of rehearsals to ensure that I am “stage ready”…..and this is either in proper studio time or rehearsal time outside. I used to have to take to rehearse and prepare myself wherever I could to make sure I felt “show ready” as I knew that was always my personal responsibility as a company member. When it comes to a performance I love to be with my colleagues in a dressing room (always found it too isolating a quiet being in a “principal dressing room”). I adore the buzz of a dressing room; the chatter, laughter, music, crazy dancing and shenanigans. I like to keep things light and cheerful backstage - because after all it’s a performance, we aren’t saving lives here! How do you deal with nerves? Fortunately I seem to manage nerves, or I like to call “pre-show energy” particularly well, I think this due to the fact that I’m at my most comfortable and most myself when on stage. I believe in the philosophy that if you’re prepared for your show, know and trust yourself well - then you have nothing to be nervous about. The only shows that make me a apprehensive is when they’re painfully hard (cardiovascular wise - something that I know is not a strength of mine)…and you know that you have to rely solely on adrenaline and mental preparedness to get you through the muscle and body fatigue. What dancer was an inspiration to you growing up? Growing up I was so fortunate to be surrounded by many members of the Australian Ballet Company. I was an Australian Ballet School Associate (part time program) since I was in primary school, which gave me the opportunity to line the corridors of The Australian Ballet, when not in the studio myself, and watch the company members each and every week. So my biggest inspirations were the greats such as Justine Summers, Vicki Attard & Stephen Heathcote - all absolute legends of the ballet world. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently to get to where you are now? Absolutely nothing! How have you dealt with the COVID situation? Fairly well I would say. Fortunately I moved to Queensland at the end of 2019 - so we didn’t have to live through long lockdowns or painful situations like poor Victoria. I felt extremely lucky to not only be living in Australia, but in particular Queensland. The COVID situation also gave me the well needed push to exit my performance world and explore more of what I had developed in the background of my dancing. Career - which was my own coaching business.
What impact did COVID have on your dance career? Honestly, it forced me to retire - which wasn’t a bad thing at all in my eyes, it was the full stop that I needed to keep taking on more and more dance contracts. All of my upcoming shows in 2020 were progressively cancelled and I had recently (end of 2019) moved to Brisbane and started working for other very well established full-time ballet studios. COVID has given me the opportunity to reflect deeply on my performance career and made me realise that I have so much to give back to my dance community that has given so much to me.
So, with that mission in mind, I made it my new goal to do everything to set up my own coaching business - Teagan Lowe Coaching, whilst working in conjunction with the incredible full-time studios up here in Queensland. I know that I have so much to offer as a coach and I really looking forward to helping Australian dancers, not only in the studio with all of their dance and technique training, but also outside the studio. I have set up Teagan Lowe Coaching as a place where dancers, dance teachers and parents can come and seek advice on ALL areas and facets of dance, dance training and dance careers. There isn’t a lot of help out there for our incredible Australian dancers., especially after they finish their full-time training, and I wanted to make that transition into the professional world the easiest one possible.
Was there any particular situation throughout your career that you felt completely out of your comfort zone?
My career worked out a little backward, upside down and side to side: I graduated from The Australian Ballet School and then joined Sydney Dance Company, which felt like a very natural progression for me (I was a performer and an absolute theatrical bunny too)....but the most I’ve ever felt from my comfort zone was going from being a “contemporary” dancer at Sydney Dance Company - back to being a “classical ballet dancer” of The Australian Ballet Company - that was a HUGE leap in another direction. Still to this day, I am very grateful for & humbled by the opportunity I had to be an artist with The Australian Ballet, but I was certainly well out of my comfort zone when I rejoined the "ballet world". What was the biggest and hardest change in your dance career and how did you deal with it?
Change - there is so, so much change and variance in the dance world and the best piece of advice my incredible first boss (Founding Director of Sydney Dance Company) Graeme Murphy AO ever gave me was - change is the only constant in this world. If you know how to manage change you’ve made it.....he was right! You have to learn how to be the most adaptable dancer and human in the performing arts - if you don’t adapt to the ever changing things that surround you, you will get left behind.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young dancer wanting to start their professional career? Work hard, but smart. Stay focused, but find balance. Always be adaptable to change. Always be open to new doors - you never know where they may lead you. Be flexible in a career sense - try not be so fixated on one particular pathway - there are many out there, so try not to close yourself off to the huge wide world. What were some of the best moments in your career? All of the many, many tours & adventures we went on. The world wide stages I have danced on! Each tour, show, production, movie, TV show....everything holds a special place in my heart. They’re all why I am who I am today - those moments have shaped my life and I am so thankful for each opportunity and for the people whom have been with me along the way - they make this crazy journey all worth it!
What advice would you give to dancers regarding auditions? Don’t be shy, but know the etiquette! Sometimes you have to be a little bit pushy, and that’s okay - but always remain respectful to the process, those around you and in particular those in charge. What is the biggest correction or valuable piece of information that has stuck with you now? Posture! It’s the key that unlocks it all. Having correct weight placement in dance (particularly ballet) changes your whole world! It all becomes a little bit easier when you master your posture and weight placement - it is something that I wish I had mastered a little sooner. What are your goals for the future? Growing my coaching business to help others achieve their goals!!! It has always been my dream beyond dance, to use the knowledge that I have gained over my 20 year career, couple it with my Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) - which I attained whilst touring and performing (that was so very hard to get through), to help aspiring dancers achieve their goals. To me, this not only means teaching dance, for me this means passing on knowledge and techniques on how to handle and manage the industry and how to find your place in it - which for a new dancer breaking in, can be really challenging, difficult to navigate and outright daunting at times. I absolutely love seeing people that I coach succeed and I hope that I can help others achieve what they set out to with my full range of coaching services that I now provide. What is the best advice regarding time management? Be early, be reliable & use your time outside of the studio wisely - this doesn’t mean always rehearsing - rest is just as important. It’s good to find a harmonious balance between “real life” and “dance life” as they certainly can either enhance each part of you, or detract from each part of you. What is the best part about dancing for you? That I feel so much myself when I dance, move and perform on stage. From someone who was painfully shy as a child to have performed on some of the world’s biggest stages is just an insane thought....so I very much know that the best part of dancing for me is being my most authentic self, and to be my most authentic self it the greatest feeling and achievement as a human. How did you deal and manage setbacks? This is a tie back to adapting to change. We all have a lot setbacks, rejections and heartache to deal with in the dance industry. You have to know that you are not alone in this and that you have all of the support you need - you just have to ask for it. Know that injury, job rejections, technical setbacks, are all a natural part of getting to where you truly need to be. Take the time to manage setbacks correctly to be able to be able to steam ahead when you’re ready! Use “setback” time to enhance, rethink and breathe - to come back stronger than before. How has dance helped you in everyday life activities or work? Dance has taught me how to do life, and how to do it well! I gained invaluable life experience through every opportunity or setback that I lived through. I gained the skills of how to be incredibly independent, intelligent, self-reliant, resilient, determined, adaptable, reliable, poised, skilled.....the list could go on and on....dance teaches you endless life skills and these will never, ever be forgotten.
- IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE ANSWERED BY TEAGAN LOWE COACHING, PLEASE LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW -