The Northern Illawarra is lucky enough to boast it’s own contemporary dance company, and they’re just about to put on yet another truly amazing show.
Now in it’s sixth year, the Austinmer Dance Theatre is a troupe of 15 talented young dancers under the guidance of choreographer, dance teacher, and local resident, Michelle Forte.
The dancers travel from all over NSW and QLD, rehearsing three days a week, then five days as they draw near to a production.
Austinmer Dance Theatre sprung from a desire to help young dancers find their feet.
After teaching in Sydney for 20 years, Michelle fell ill. During a seven week stint in hospital, she had time to think. She had always wanted to start her own company and realised she didn’t want to die wondering, so Austinmer Dance Company was born!
“I have seen a lot of young dancers travel overseas to fulfil their dreams only to discover it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. I wanted to give these dancers the opportunity to learn and work in a real company that was close to home, so they have experience as a professional dancer, before they commit to work in the USA or Europe. “
Michelle is a Dapto girl who loved to dance. She attended the Pricilla Kurtz Dance school before heading to Sydney to study full-time at the Saill Academy. But a career on stage wasn’t to be. “I wasn’t confident enough,” she says. “It’s something I understand better now, so I instil confidence in all my dancers. It’s so important to have self-belief!”
Michelle loves being able to nurture raw talent. “Passion, dedication and commitment make a great dancer,” she says. “It’s not necessarily the person with the best technical skills. Great dancers have their own unique and amazing abilities.”
Michelle says the upcoming production of Odyssey was conceived while she was on holidays in New York.
“I was watching the people on the subway and thinking about their lives, and how we are all on a different journey. The people on that train were heading in the same physical direction, but on a very different journey through life. There are so many circumstances behind where we are and what we are dealing with at this point in time and for that reason, everyone will see something different in this show. That’s what I love about contemporary dance.
“Odyssey is an exciting, high energy performance with the undertones of a story,” she says. “We have amazing dancers, beautiful music and a little bit of humour too.”
Odyssey will be performed at the Phoenix Theatre in Conniption on May 27 at 8pm and May 28 at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are available on 0407 067 343 or www.phoenixtheatre.net.au
Photo- Michelle and company member Jessica Hewitt- Facebook