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Women at Work: Hannah Carey

Beatrice Smith

Hannah Carey’s passion for performance started long before she became a dance teacher at St. Francis Xavier College. 

Rather, her interest first ignited when she participated in AusDance ACT’s Youth Dance Festival when she was in high school herself.

“Regional dance competitions, Rock Eisteddfod and especially Dance Festival not only gave me the chance to perform but I also got to take on roles like director and choreographer which cemented my career path,” explains Hannah.

Hannah Carey, Emily Appleton and Carly Savona in Canberra Philharmonic Society's 'Cabaret' 2014.

Hannah Carey, Emily Appleton and Carly Savona in Canberra Philharmonic Society’s ‘Cabaret’ 2014.

AusDance ACT’s Youth Dance Festival 2016 (‘DanceFest’) happens across three nights this year at the Canberra Theatre Centre from 7-9 September. As the lights go down on a packed audience, the anticipation is palpable as parents wait anxiously for their child’s school to perform. Up to 20 schools perform on any given night and the result is a blockbuster programme where any music and any dance style goes.

Hannah’s groups may not have perfected their routine down to the last twirl yet, but their explorations of the annual theme sounds intriguing.

“I have two groups and they’re both very much on track,” explains Hannah. “We call it a ‘skeleton of a piece’ at the moment – they have the dance, they just need to refine and polish at this point and create costumes. It’s all happening!”

The theme for 2016 is ‘Be Loud, Be Heard’ with schools encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to illustrating the theme through performance and dance.

Hannah with members of the SFX Dance Ensemble.

Hannah with members of the SFX Dance Ensemble.

Without spoiling the surprise, Hannah’s groups have taken polar opposite approaches to the theme, with one going for a very ‘colourful’, art-inspired interpretation and one approaching it from a more serious angle.

The annual theme encourages groups to break new ground when it comes to inspiration for routines and enables teachers to facilitate discussion about a range of topics that may not be covered in school.

With an infectious enthusiasm for performing, it’s easy to see why Hannah chose to become a secondary school dance teacher.

“I’ve always had a strong passion for the performing arts and I’ve always danced, so I knew I wanted to pursue a career there,” explains Hannah. “But the idea to become a secondary school teacher came to me from the opportunities that my school – Merici College – and my dance teachers, Louise Chapman and Helen Polous, provided for me.”

Louise Chapman (dance teacher) and Hannah Carey at Dance Festival in 2003. Louise is now a teacher at Daramalan College.

Louise Chapman (dance teacher) and Hannah Carey at Dance Festival in 2003. Louise is now a teacher at Daramalan College.

“I guess I thought, ‘what better job could I have than one where I get to be involved in amazing events like Dance Fest and am able to help my students pursue their own passion for performance’.”

So how much has Dance Festival changed since Hannah performed?

“I think [the experience] is exactly the same, which is fantastic,” says Hannah. “Some of my fondest memories of high school were made at Dance Festival and the thrill of performing on stage always made me want to go back for more. I just loved the lighting, costumes, makeup and the great vibe from an appreciative audience.

“But I also enjoyed the social aspect of Dance Festival as well – getting to make new friends, meeting students from other schools and my class had a bit of a tradition where we’d go to The Pancake Parlour on the mornings of Dancefest before we trotted along to the theatre for the day.”

Hannah says that her favourite part of DanceFest always revolves around the experience of her students.

“I think I’m mainly excited about seeing the students who haven’t done Dancefest before experience all that this event has to offer,” says Hannah. “There’s quite a few of them, including 10 male students. To see them experience that adrenaline rush that you get from performing on stage and to see their hard work pay off is amazing. I’m also looking forward to the warm up session in the auditorium before the performance which kicks the day off nicely.”

Hannah with members of the SFX Dance Ensemble.

Hannah with members of the SFX Dance Ensemble.

“There’s music playing and kids cheering. They get all the teachers up on the stage to music and we make a fool of ourselves. Everyone just gets really pumped up and excited.”

If this sounds like something your kids would be interested in (who wouldn’t?) then the performances they’ll see at Dance Fest 2016 are sure to inspire.

the essentials

What: AusDance ACT 2016 Youth Dance Festival: Be Loud, Be Heard
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
When: 7-9 of September 2016 at 7.30pm
For more information and to book tickets, click here: canberratheatrecentre.com.au or phone 02 6275 2700

This is a sponsored article. For more information on sponsored articles, click here

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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