Meet Alex Andrews
Now Principal of Elevation Dance Studios in Melbourne, Alex Andrews describes her journey from full-time training to a lasting career.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Newcastle, Armidale and Sydney.
Where did you undertake your full-time training?
After my final year at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (NHSPA) in Sydney, I received a full scholarship to Point Park University (PPU) in Pittsburgh, US. I then moved to Melbourne to attend the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). I graduated from NHSPA, received distinction in my Advance 1 RAD exam, and was selected to perform at the HSC Callback for both compositional and performance subjects.
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while undertaking your full-time studies?
My time at PPU was incredibly inspiring, humbling and challenging. I definitely felt like a small fish in a very big pond. They scaled their students into four levels and auditioned the entire school for their performances. This created a hardworking, committed and competitive dynamic, which I thrived in. I started my day at 8am and studied ballet, pointe, pas de deux, contemporary jazz and Graham technique and then had rehearsals through till 10pm. Each day was jam-packed and we were expected to push the boundaries on a daily basis. I discovered an appreciation for focus and determination; I loved this kind of training and it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many driven and talented dancers. It was at this institution that I began to develop my work ethic and movement vocabulary, all of which prepared me to commence my undergraduate degree at the VCA.
The VCA was everything I hoped it would be and more. Due to the close proximity to industry greats (Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin, Ballet Lab and numerous independent artists) connections were made with our teachers, guest artists and choreographers. The transition between full-time training and a lasting career in the dance world was made much more attainable. We were encouraged to think laterally and to draw inspiration from varying sources. I learnt to work from a holistic and inquisitive movement practice. It was at the VCA that my love of choreography blossomed. I was championed by my peers and lecturers to create at every opportunity. I invested in the resources the university provided and was able to showcase my work every year, homing in on my artistic voice. This was one of the invaluable assets of my time, having the space to create and forge a raw voice with the encouragement of the VCA. I was surprised and honoured to be awarded Valedictorian of my graduating class – my self-driven commitment and work ethic had equated to this high honour.
Did you change your mind or have a change of attitude about your career goals while you were studying?
Prior to full time training, my number one career goal was to work in a contemporary dance company. While this remained my number one goal, I found myself drawn to anatomy/ kinesiology and choreography as well.
What was one of the main life lessons you gained from full-time studies?
That you need to have a strong work ethic, kindness will take you far and that you need to really love what you do.
What is your best memory of your studies?
Dancing every single day, performing and working with so many incredible artists
and educators. To this day I remain in close connection with leaders and artists who inspired me greatly.
How quickly did you gain a professional position after graduation?
I gained my first professional gig a few months out of uni. Tasdance was touring Melbourne and one of their dancers became unwell and I was called up to learn the choreography and perform the work a day later.
Tell us a little about your present job.
I am now the proud owner and principal of Elevation Dance Studios. My goal was to create an environment that fosters confident, empowered and inquisitive young movers. I am so proud of the creative and welcoming space I have built. It brings me so much joy that I can educate and inspire the next generation of dancers and help them build their own artistic voice, move with anatomical intelligence and perform with confidence. My most recent graduates have since commenced at VCA, SDC Pre-Professional Year, NZSD and Todd Patrick’s. I truly love my job and my studio.
Alex Andrews is profiled in our annual pullout Full-Time Studies Guide in Spring (September/October/November) issue - make sure you grab your copy before it leaves the shelves! Buy your copy from your favourite dance shop or online here.