Into his league

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 Kynan Hughes performing Sydney Dance Company's 'We Unfold'. Photo: Jeff Busby

Kynan Hughes performing Sydney Dance Company's 'We Unfold'. Photo: Jeff Busby

An unexpected but welcome outcome!

Kynan Hughes tells the story of his successful audition for one of the country’s most prestigious dance companies with customary self-deprecating humour. Although he had always wanted to dance with Sydney Dance Company, when an audition opportunity came up shortly after the appointment of current director Rafael Bonachela, he felt like it was “out of [his] league”. After encouragement from friends, he sent in his application on the day of the deadline. At the time he was working with Leigh Warren and Dancers in Adelaide.

“So I flew in to Sydney and I walked into the room and there were all these hardcore, amazing dancers in their unitards,” Hughes recalls. “The audition was intense. We did a ballet class first. I was right at the front of the room because it was alphabetical and that was where ‘H’ landed up, right in front of the panel, and I thought, ‘I’m screwed. Ballet at this point? Not my strong suit’. I think I was in the third class of the day – they had a huge number of people auditioning. So I wrote myself off, and thought, ‘At least I can look around Sydney’.

“But I didn’t get cut. So we went into repertoire, and each time there’d be a cut, I’d think, ‘Ok, this is it’. And then we got to the end of the day and they said, ‘these are the people we’re keeping for tomorrow’ and my name was called out. I got back to my hotel – it was an airport hotel because I thought I’d be flying out fairly shortly – and I was so sore, so chronically sore! I remember getting into the bath and thinking, ‘How am I going to dance tomorrow?’

“The next day we rocked up at nine in the morning and it was a two-hour Cunningham technique class. I was like, ‘Well this will be it. I can hardly walk…’ but to my surprise I was still not shunted out the door. So we did more repertoire. Then we finished the day with improv and I think that’s probably what got me the job. I think Raf was looking for people who could really contribute to the creative process.”

This article was published in the 'Dance Australia' June/July 2018 issue. It is an extract from an article by Nina Levy that was first published on

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