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Then and Now: Dancer steps into teaching role

Laura Peppas

When Emily Appleton participated in her first Ausdance ACT Youth Dance Festival as a Merici College student back in 2002, it was to a packed audience at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

“I remember being chosen to choreograph a section of our dance work and feeling a huge sense of pride in leading my peers,” Emily says.

“There was such a rush and a sense of excitement when we all stepped out on stage.”

Thirteen years later, Emily is now a dance teacher at Alfred Deakin High School and helping her students prepare for their own Ausdance ACT Youth Dance Festival, ‘Explorations’, to be held from 16 – 18 September at the Canberra Theatre.

Emily, left

Emily, left, participating in her second Dance Festival in 2003.

Created in 1985, the festival aims to provide the youth of Canberra with the opportunity to dance in a professional, non-competitive theatre environment.

Thirty five high schools and colleges will take part in the event this year, with students to choreograph their own pieces.

Emily says the festival holds great value and importance for students in the Canberra community.

“Dance Festival allows students to experience a huge sense of accomplishment,” she says.

“After months of commitment, hard work, discipline and focus, students have turned an idea into something that is tangible as well as something that is relevant and meaningful to them.

“As a teacher, I also witness students gaining a better sense of their bodies by participating in Dance Festival. As they become more familiar with the choreography, their confidence and self-esteem improves and they are better equipped to explore their own expression and freedom of movement.”

Dance Festival Class 2

Emily, centre, with her students participating in Dance Festival at Alfred Deakin High

Working with students from years 9 – 10 over a period of 9 weeks, Emily is responsible for guiding and supporting my students through the Dance Festival process.

“I run warm up, provide feedback, give advice, encourage, facilitate discussions, and complete the administration whilst my students take on the creative roles of Director, Producer, Choreographer, Costume and Make-Up Designer, Lighting Designer and Dancer,” she says.

“I believe the students have much more ownership of, and pride in, the dance work when they are empowered to create the work themselves and tell a story that is important to them. Students and teachers build different relationships outside the classroom setting, are encouraged to support each other and interact with other schools, and even the teachers are able to connect and network.”

Emily says she began dancing at just five years of age at the then Dell Brady Ballet School in Canberra.

“Over the next 13 years I attended a variety of other dance schools and studied numerous different dance disciplines including; ballet, jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, contemporary and salsa,” she says.

“My most recent performance was the Philharmonic Society’s 2014 production of Cabaret. I hope to continue performing in local musical theatre productions, however, my main goal with dance has always been to teach and create…I relish the opportunity to view dance.”

the essentials
What: Youth Dance Festival 2015 ‘Explorations’
When: 16, 17 and 18 September
Where: The Canberra Theatre Centre
How much: $32 for adults, $26 for concession ($3.30 transaction fee applies)
Web: https://canberratheatrecentre.com.au/show/ausdance-act-youth-dance-festival-2015-explorations/


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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author