Kristy Lee Denovan is a dancer with Projection Dance in Wodonga.
What is your background?
I’m half Sri Lankan, half Australian, with other bits as well!
And your dance background?
I started at Vivienne Dunn in Keysborough, Vic (now closed) at five, then went to Jane Moore Academy of Ballet in Highett, then the Australian Ballet School in 2006, when I had just turned 16.
Was being a ballet dancer your major ambition?
Absolutely. I came out of my first ballet class at the age of five and turned to my mother and said, I want to be a ballet dancerI loved school, especially English and Science, and my mum always said school must come first, which was good because it made me appreciate ballet more, but she was totally supportive of my dream.
I was a finalist in the Prix de Lausanne in 2008. It is still one of the best experiences of my life. It just opened my eyes, especially coming from Australia, to what is out there, and it was so educational.
You were in the Australian Ballet from 2009-12 [as Kristy Corea]. What rank?
I was only ever a corps de ballet member, but was very lucky as I got to dance with [Cuban guest] Yosvani Ramos, who was a principal at the time, because I’m very small, I didn’t really fit in the corps, and he was the perfect height for me. [She says she is just 5’3”, but that might be disputed by others!] I did a lot of galas with him across the world. I was too little - I was always third or fourth cast in the corps, though sometimes I had little parts with Reiko Hombo, as our sizes were even.
So your size worked in your favour, in a way?
It meant I had to work very hard on being unique – I don’t fit in, so I had to stand out for the right reasons. I did still enjoy being in the corps though – I enjoyed learning the craft and always enjoyed any chance to be on stage.
What did you identify was unique about you?
I never wanted to look little, so something I have always tried to do was make myself expansive and broad through port de bras. I think about it even more than the lower half, and it ended up being a quality that makes me stand out. I also love jumping, and dynamic, expressive movement.
Why did you leave the Australian Ballet?
I broke my foot in the last year, and the rehabilitation period made me realise I needed break. I had a year off, had a normal retail job and recharged. It was the best thing I could have done, because I realised how much I loved ballet all over again. I decided I wanted to do more contemporary ballet, and I joined Melbourne Ballet Company with artistic director Simon Hoy and had an incredible time for the five years I was with them.
What happened when that folded?
I was very lucky because the year before Tim Podesta [artistic director of Projection] made a work on MBC, and I really connected with his movement and it made me want to be creative again, so I pretty much started working with him straight away. I’ve been with him for almost four years now.
Is your position with Projection full-time?
It depends. This year we have a lot of touring, so we don’t stop, with a mix of galas and contemporary programs. It’s fantastic to keep up my ballet, because I love it, but I’m enjoying the experience of being creative and expressing myself through fantastic movement.
Are you living in Albury/Wodonga?
I’m still based in Melbourne, so I travel up at the start of the week and come home on the weekends. We have very full days, starting with class and reheasals till six.
What do you like about Tim Podesta’s work?
I think it’s so interesting, quite intricate, a lot of shapes I feel I’ve never really seen. It also feels quite natural to me. The contemporary work is very physically demanding -- I absolutely love it. We were also involved this year with the first International Brisbane Ballet Gala, and I'm on the jury.
And aside from dancing you do modelling work?
Yes, I’ve been in a lot of ads, in Vogue, and was one of the faces of St Collins shopping mall in Melbourne when it opened a couple of years ago.
The first Brisbane International Grand Prix runs from March 20 to 22 with a gala performance on March 21 featuring an array of guest artists, including Projection Dance artists. Info: https://www.balletgrandprix.com.au/
From June 9 to 19, Projection will tour an International Divertissement Ballet Gala to the Otway Performing Arts and Culture Centre in Colac (June 10), Horsham Town Hall (June 12), Swan Hill Town Hall (June 13), Burrinja (Dandenong Ranges Community Cultural Centre (June 16), The Wedge, Sale (June 18) and Wyndham Cultural Centre (June 19).
Photo: RON FUNG