Where were you born?
I was born in Forster, NSW. A nice beachy spot with good surf but not the greatest hip-hop scene…
My dad was a high school PE teacher, the coolest of teachers. My brother became a high school teacher as well. I have also, somewhat, followed in dad's footsteps, as teaching is a massive part of what I do. My mother opened up a coffee shop when I was 13 and I worked there with my brother and sister up until I was 18 and decided it was time to leave for the big smoke!
My father is a water colour artist who also plays guitar. Having such a creative family has led to me develop a different view of the world and more insight into the possibilities of art. My brother played guitar, my sister the piano and they both have followed very creative paths over the years. Sitting the the grand stand supporting us all is our mother. I consider myself extremely lucky to have parents who backed me in this crazy industry that they know very little about.
What is your first memory of dancing?
I had never thought of this question before -- it brought back a memory as fresh as yesterday. I think I was about eight and we had been fishing all afternoon on a little wharf. That night I was going to a school disco and I just remember being so excited about all the dance moves I could try out and practising them on the wharf.
Where did you train?
I moved to Sydney in 2009 to attend a full time performing arts course at Urban Dance Centre. Before this I was self-taught, downloading clips of music videos or dance battles from the internet (which back then used to take about a day to download a two minute video!).
I eventually travelled to Europe to attend a dance camp called Urban Dance Camp (not related to Urban Dance Centre) for six weeks. I was offered a scholarship and returned twice over the following years
Why hip hop? Australia is a long way from the Bronx!
It is so far! There was just something about the music, the freedom of it and the expression, that I didn’t feel through any other music. I was the chubby kid in school and, combined with having a very different personality, it made me a punching bag so I would feel a connection to the music. I'm not saying that my middleclass, white Australian upbringing is anything close to that of the families of the Bronx but emotions are universal.
How did you form Phly Crew?
Before Phly Crew I had attempted to start two crews: I felt drawn to the social aspect of having a team and a family to train together and to support each other. Yet again I didn’t really fit the mould of many of the crews out there so I figured I would start my own. First there was Straight to the Point, a collection of young dancers in my home town; secondly there was Genisis, a crew I started while studying at Urban Dance Centre. I asked some of my favourite dancers from the school to do a competition together and that’s about as far as we got. I realised that for a really strong crew I should pick people based on personality and our connection rather than dance ability and that was where Phly Crew started.
What was your first big break?
There have been many big moments for myself and for the crew. Appearing on Australia’s Got Talent. For myself being asked to join the teaching faculty for NRG Australia. I truly believe our first big break was of our own creation. In 2013 Neale Whittaker and I approached NIDA Theatres in Sydney and booked a theatre to put on our own production. To this day we are two of the youngest directors to book one of the NIDA theatres to put on an independent production. Through this we learnt so much and I think it was from here that we began morphing from a hip hop crew into a dance company.
What have been your career highlights to date?
Putting on our second theatre production, Phly Crew 2.0, was a massive highlight for me as we were able to expand and invite (and pay) another 10 dancers to join us. To have so many people on a stage delivering something I had dreamt up is a moment I will cherish forever!
Also a classic highlight would be winning Looze Control 2010, the first competition Phly Crew won.
What is the philosophy behind Phly Crew?
Humorous, Innovative, Entertainment.
So now you are heading to L.A. What are your plans?
My goals aren’t to leave Australia in the dust. I really want to bring everything I learn back to our beautiful country and help create a better industry for us. However for me to learn more I do have to go where the work is. My dream is to work under some of my idols and learn the ropes of being a creative director on bigger projects.
What word(s) would you use to describe your feet?
Cumbersome. Big. Supportive.
This article appeared in the February/March 2018 of Dance Australia.