The new intake of 26 up-and-coming dancers for SDC’s prestigious Pre-Professional Year has been announced.

Since Sydney Dance Company introduced its Pre-Professional Year (PPY) in 2014, an impressive 70 young dance artists have undertaken the nationally accredited, intensive, one-year course, which enables aspiring contemporary dancers to train alongside the SDC ensemble. Though graduating into SDC is not what it’s about, four PPY graduates are now SDC members: Josephine Weise, Sam Young-Wright, Nelson Earl and Izzac Carroll. Marlo Benjamin, who did the PPY course in 2015, recently danced in Nude Live along with Carroll.

The PPY class of 2017. Photo courtesy of Sydney Dance Company

Today, SDC announced the 26 Australian and New Zealand dancers who will form the class of 2017. They are:

Claire Abaijah (Griffin, Ipswich), Scarlett Atkins (Gold Coast), Georgie Bailey (Airlie Beach), Jasmine Bard (Branxton), Lana Barone (Adelaide), Alexander Borg (Bexley), Brad Carter (New Plymouth, NZ), Brielle De Thomasis (Mackay), Francesca Fenton (Grenfell), Marni Green (Woonona), Beatrice Jackson (Adelaide), Jessica Johns (Wellington, NZ), Ashley Joppich (Clifton), Cody Lavery (Gold Coast), Gabrielle Martin (Turners Beach), Aaron Matheson (Sydney), Alex Mencinsky (Hunters Hill), Mason Peronchik (Coffs Harbour), Harry Pohl (Geelong), Rebecca Sawyer (Nowra), Lilly Smith (Brisbane), Cooper Terry (Mt Gambier), Laura Vlasic (Proserpine), Ashley Walsh (Sydney), Kassidy Waters (Lower Belford) and Chloe Young (Burpengary).

The PPY is run by Linda Gamblin (née Ridgway), who trained at the Royal Ballet School in London and danced with companies including the Australian Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Portugal and Sydney Dance Company. She designed the programme, together with Rafael Bonachela, SDC’s Artistic Director, to offer practical skills development and professional career preparation while encouraging individualism and diversity, with students encouraged to discover their own distinctive voice.

During the year, the dancers work with many renowned Australian and international guest choreographers (between 30 and 50 a year) and dance educators, offering invaluable networking opportunities as well as creative inspiration. Their end-of-year performance showcases new choreography created for them during the course. “It’s a very simple vision, and it’s a process-based, practice-led vision that creates artists and authentic movers,” says Gamblin.

Dancers from around Australia and New Zealand applied for the 2017 PPY course and the intake was chosen from around 130 auditions. “I’m gathering a group of people that I think might all work together, so I have to be very intuitive about it,” says Gamblin. “It’s not necessarily the refined technician that will excel at the end. It could be the one that is creative and intelligent with a great mind. So, we’re really looking for kinaesthetic awareness in every movement that they’re doing.”

“Hopefully, what we’re trying to do by the end of the year is just to get everyone to be really present and grounded, and communicating with the audience in an authentic way,” says Gamblin, adding: “It’s a great year for them to work out if they want to go and make this a serious career choice.”