• Amelia Drummond. Photo: Admill Kuyler
    Amelia Drummond. Photo: Admill Kuyler

What's it like to make a work for The Australian Ballet?

Winner of the inaugural Emerging Female Classical Choreographer initiative, Amelia Drummond, is about to find out. 

Amelia is excited to share her experiences with you as she takes up her EFCC prize, a residency at the Sydney Opera House, to create a new work for The Australian Ballet's 2019 "Bodytorque" season.

Here's her first diary entry:

Hi, I’m Amelia - it’s nice to take you on this adventure with me! 

One of the first steps for me was choosing a beautiful piece of music to inspire me and to choreograph to! Until I started choreographing I didn’t appreciate the detail that goes into sourcing and approving music, and how complicated the copyright laws and protections are. Just like my choreography is my property, the music we use as part of our choreography is the composer’s property, so there needs to be approval and all the copyrighting rules need to be followed. So even though I have now chosen a piece of music, I also need to have back up options in mind just in case I don’t get the approval!

I received a list from The Australian Ballet's music director, Nicolette Fraillon, with 30 options, all of which may be played live. (The music will be played by a small ensemble of Orchestra Victoria - I’m very excited about that!!) Some were safe options as the composers have passed away more than 70+ years ago so their work is open to be reproduced. I was particularly interested in the Australian composers on the list, but in choosing those options I would have to wait for the approval and write a short summary of how I wanted to use the music with my choreography. When I listened to Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s work, I got a special feeling. I was swept up into the beauty and simplicity of her composition. I had to choose her work, as I know that music sets the mood of how you, as the audience, will interpret my piece and the feeling you will take away.

Once I had chosen my music, there were a few different variations to choose from, using different instruments. Working with Orchestra Victoria, I decided to use a variation with piano, cello and violin, which will be amazing as the instruments will also be on stage with the dancers! I am aware that there are many different ways that choreographers put the music with their piece. Some people even choose to add the music after finishing their choreography. I am also trying to improvise and discover movements to other pieces of music that inspire me, so that when I eventually put the movements to my music choice, I can find a different feeling or movement quality to the music I will actually use. I am very open to trying new techniques as a young choreographer, and I am sure the way I listen to and interpret the music will change over the process.

The idea and story behind my choreography is personal, and when I listened to the music options I was looking for a feeling, even if it was just one chord or note that made me think "wow, this is it!". The idea I have for my choreography is on the darker side, so I have chosen to work with Kats-Chernin’s piece because it will allow me to explain the darker side but also has variation that will pull me out of that darkness and into a bit of light. I often listen for parts in the music which change and vary so I can deliver my story in sections, and offer different characters in my story a chance to develop their own personalities.

As a dancer I know I am inspired and moved when I dance to a piece of music I love, and in choosing this music as a choreographer, I hope will inspire the dancers to move in a way that they love. If I ever feel lost within my idea (I know that day may come) I will always have my music to refer back to and remember how it makes me feel and my original ideas and inspirations.

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you, and giving you details and updates along the way!

The Emerging Female Classical Choreographer initiative is a partnership between Dance Australia, the Sydney Opera House and The Australian Ballet, and sponsored by Bloch, Harlequin, DanceSurance and the WA Academy of Performing Arts.

Pictured top: Amelia Drummond. Photo: Admill Kuyler.

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