As part of our 2020 Full-Time Studies Guide, we asked a number of graduates to describe their experience as full-time students. Read one account below and look out for more in our August/September issue… out now!
Anna McCulla, graduate of The Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA).
Dancer for Bonnie Curtis Projects and Twisted Element
Where are you from?
Where did you undertake your full-time training?
The Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA).
What level of education (academic and dance) had you attained before beginning your full-time training?
Higher School Certificate (HSC) and Cert. IV in Dance Performance Studies (Jazz) through the Australian Dance Institute (ADi).
How did you find the transition from full-time studies to the profession?
I really enjoyed the transition into the profession after graduating from AMPA. I found that I finally had time to do the things I had been wanting to do, such as secondments, working on projects with other artists, or creating my own works. This "recent graduate" period was one of real growth for me and I took the opportunity to learn and absorb as much as I could from as many sources as I could.
Immediately after graduating I began working with Bonnie Curtis Projects (BCP), a dance and physical theatre company founded by a fellow AMPA graduate, Bonnie Curtis. In 2017 we began creating our first full-length show GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS, which has since gone on to tour east coast Australia and New Zealand.
After graduating I began doing secondments with dance companies around Australia, many of which I had grown an interest in whilst at studying AMPA. The first of these was a workshop with Chunky Move and then I went on to spend time with the Australian Dance Theatre, and Jo Lloyd at the Tasdance MAKE choreographic intensive. I found each of these provided me with not only great physical training but made me question and further develop my own choreographic and thought processes.
What were the most important benefits of your studies?
Perhaps one of the most beneficial parts of my studies was being exposed to contemporary dance. Not the contemporary dance that we see on social media or widely across the commercial scene but intellectual, thought-provoking dance.
Although I had trained in "contemporary" during my school years I think it was often lyrical in disguise. Often there is a blurred line between the two styles but for me contemporary goes beyond dance, beyond an eisteddfod routine. It’s a lot deeper than that. Although I was a jazz major during my studies at AMPA, the ability to train in other styles (contemporary, ballet, jazz, and hip hop) for two technique classes a week allowed me to build up a strong skill set and love for contemporary. Of course there was still more to learn after graduating and even now, there’s still more to learn and isn’t that great?
Another benefit to studying at AMPA was the course’s academic focus. Perhaps most memorable was the final six months of my degree, which involved writing a mock 25,000 word proposal of a work, which I later brought to life on stage at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). Being guided through a process like this was invaluable and helped me prepare for the level of detail needed for a proposal in the professional world.
Finally, the value in holding an internationally-recognised degree in dance cannot go unsaid. Graduating with a Bachelor of Dance opens up so many further study opportunities as it is recognised at a tertiary level.
Tell us a little about your present job.
I am currently working as a dancer for Sydney-based companies Bonnie Curtis Projects and Twisted Element. Each of these companies focuses on a more immersive style of contemporary dance, aiming to break through the "fourth wall" and blur the line between performer and audience member. I also teach and create my own works, including my first self directed and choreographed dance film, Murder. I have also been involved in music videos for producer Oh My My and was named as one of Dance Australia’s 2018 Dancers to Watch.
Don't miss this year's Full-Time Studies Guide, the most comprehensive in Australia! The Full-Time Studies Guide is in the August/September edition of Dance Australia... out now! Subscribe to Dance Australia here or Dance Australia at your favourite retail outlet, or online here.
Pictured top is Anna McCulla.