Justin Zee, artist at Singapore Dance Theatre
We caught up with Justin for our Full-Time Studies Guide published in the 2018 August/September issue.
Where are you from and where did you undertake your full-time training?
I’m from Paynesville, Vic, and trained at the National Theatre Ballet School in (Melbourne).
What level of education had you attained before beginning your full-time training?
VCE year 11, then I completed my year 12 certificate through Distance Education Centre Victoria while beginning my full time training.
Was it a big change to move into full-time studies?
Yes it was, it meant that I left all familiarities behind to move from the country to the city, to change schools, to live away from my family and friends. It was a change that taught me to grow up fast, to become an adult and take on new adventures, discoveries and experiences.
It was a chance to learn more about myself as a dancer and an artist, and to refine my techniques and begin my journey to becoming a professional dancer.
How quickly did you gain employment upon graduation?
After my graduation I went to Europe to do my own organised audition tour. I travelled all around east and west Europe before returning to Australia to do a few more months training under the guidance of Beverly Jane Fry. I received a contract with Melbourne City Ballet six months after my graduation. After that I returned to Europe in January 2015 to join Teatrul De Balet Sibiu for a short contract before moving to the Czech Republic. I spent one year there dancing in the theatre in Ostrava before I was offered the contract with Singapore Dance Theatre.
What were the most important benefits of your studies?
The main benefit of going full time was that it enabled me to focus on dance; it meant training all day six days a week. I was able to make much faster improvements, since I was working on my technique every day. The teachers I had during my time at the NTBS really pushed me to believe in myself even when I couldn’t see the results. They taught me there was always more to fix and more room for improvement. The school is situated at the famous National Theatre in St Kilda – it is such a unique experience for a school in Australia to be located inside the theatre. It was a real benefit for me because the building itself was inspiring - going to school inside the theatre and being so close to the stage was very exciting. Another huge benefit was that during my time at there we had four performance seasons a year on stage, gaining important performance experience.
Tell us a little about your present job.
I joined Singapore Dance Theatre as an artist in July, 2016, and since then I have had the opportunity to dance in a wide variety of repertoire – ranging from classical ballets to neoclassical and modern contemporary works. I’ve enjoyed working in the studio with some world renowned choreographers on new creations, including Toru Shimazaki on his piece Unexpected B and Timothy Harbour on Linea Adora, which will have its world premiere in July this year as part of Singapore Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary gala.
You can read about more graduate experiences like Justin's in the current August/September issue of 'Dance Australia'. Don't miss out! Buy a copy from your favourite retail outlet or digital copies here or here.