CREATING MOVEMENT IN MAY WITH
SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY
& CHLOE LEONG
“I’VE BEEN MAKING IT A PRIORITY TO PRACTICE PRESENCE, AWARENESS AND GRATITUDE EVERY DAY AND TAKING IN ALL THE ABUNDANCE IN MY LIFE AND AROUND ME.”
SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY HAS HAD TO CHANGE THEIR WHOLE TEACHING STRUCTURE AND THE WAY THEY RUN THEIR LIVES AS DANCERS AND CREATERS DUE TO COVID-19. WITH THIS WE WANTED TO COLLABORATE TO HELP EXPRESS AND CREATE A FOCUS ON KEEPING MOVING. THE IMPORTANCE ON PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH WITHIN THIS BEAUTIFUL INDUSTRY IS PARAMOUNT. HENCE THE CREATION OF MOVEMENT IN MAY, AN ONLINE PLATFORM FOR DANCERS TO KEEP MOVING, KEEP CREATING AND KEEP CONNECTED. MOST OF ALL, INFLUENCING OTHERS TO EXPRESS THEIR EMOTIONS.
1. You are such an accomplished dancer - what is your favourite dance to perform?
It’s so hard for me to narrow it down to just one piece! This is my sixth year as a dancer with Sydney Dance Company and in every piece that I’ve had the opportunity to perform, there have been so many different elements to love and connect to.
As a dancer, what I love more than anything, is to perform a piece that I can connect to on an emotional level. I believe that feeling something deeply and authentically will always translate outwardly, on stage and for the audience. Rafael Bonachela’s work “Frame of Mind” and William Forsythe’s piece “Quintett”, are two pieces that I felt really embodied these very raw, human emotions and conditions, that the audiences and I could relate and connect to through subjectively. This is also what I LOVE about dance!
2. Who inspires you to dance?
I would say it’s less who but rather what inspires me to dance. After all these years, I haven’t quite found a way to describe the feeling of performing on stage, it feels almost superhuman, as funny as that sounds. All my senses are heightened yet I can feel so calm. There is this incredible energy that comes from the audience also, it’s almost electric and as an artist, it’s an amazing source of gratification and you’re always left wanting to experience it all over again. I haven’t been able to replicate that feeling doing anything else.
3. Every dancer’s body is different - how do you look after yours?
It’s taken me a long time to find what works for my body. My body adapts very quickly, so in the past I’ve constantly had to change up my routine to be at my peak, which is hard and tiring.
What I have finally found that works for me is doing a mix of Pilates and body conditioning, before work and on the weekend, as a type of strengthening and restorative practice. Pilates is all about strengthening and lengthening and I think because I have so much awareness of my body, even the tiniest of movements has me sweating and shaking! I also love intermittent fasting in the morning. I know that sounds hard core and it’s definitely not for everyone, however I have found that my energy stays at a consistent level, my mind is super clear and my muscle recovery is so much faster. I also swear by cold showers in the morning and a cup of bone broth everyday.
4. We have all had to adapt to the new norm and SDC have led the way with their virtual studios. How have you found this transition?
At first it was completely surreal. In a normal setting I would be in the studio with my colleagues, feeding off each other’s energy and working very intimately with one another and then here I was in my living room, doing company class, watching everyone dancing in these tiny boxes on my screen. I am also not technologically savvy. I purchased my laptop at the beginning of this year after not having one for 8 years! So that was a challenge in itself!
The most amazing thing for me personally to come out of this, is teaching for the Sydney Dance Company Virtual Studio. I have never considered teaching as an option for myself, but I was asked if I’d like teach one class a week for the studios and I took the plunge and now, I am so incredibly grateful. As of this week I will be teaching four body conditioning classes per week. I get so much joy and gratification from seeing everyone in my class finish feeling strong and good about themselves, having connected to their bodies. It’s something I would love to pursue later on in life.
5. How do you fill the hours when you’re not working with Sydney Dance Company?
Spending quality time with my partner. Lots of cuddles and playtime with our kitten, Dumpling; we adopted him two weeks after we started working from home. Early morning walks to watch the sunrise from Bronte and a dip in the ocean, now that the beaches are open. Slow cooking and baking healthy treats (I have the biggest sweet tooth!). Redecorating my apartment. Catching up with friends from overseas. Meditation.
6. Movement is so important for the body - how do you integrate this with the health of the mind?
I’ve always been aware of the importance of body-mind integration in dance; when the two connect I feel like I’m in a constant energetic flow. However, I’m definitely guilty of prioritising body over mind. I’m really using these unique circumstances to slow down and have moments of stillness. It’s so hard for me but it’s so rewarding! I’ve been making it a priority to practice presence, awareness and gratitude every day and taking in all the abundance in my life and around me.
7. It’s never too late to learn to dance - how would you encourage people to learn during COVID?
If there was ever a time to learn to dance, it’s now! I can understand that stepping into a studio, having never attended a class before can be very intimidating. Now that Sydney Dance Company has created these virtual classes, there is no reason for insecurity and fear to get in the way of experiencing the joys of dance. It’s very easy to forget that moving your body is a gift and being able to use it as a tool of expression is something that some don’t get to ever experience, so jump off the couch, clear some space and get grooving!