Meet the graduate: Viola Iida

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We asked Violia Iida whether her original career aim changed from when she started her studies to when she graduated.


Well before applying to join the Pre-Professional course, I was inspired by the work of Sydney Dance Company (SDC). Every season, for as long as I can remember, SDC would put on shows for school students. I would go to every single one, and I would come out of those shows breathless and in awe of their beauty, and of the athleticism, technique and artistry of the dancers.

When I was accepted into SDC Pre-Professional Year (PPY), I joined a community of aspiring young dancers and we dreamt of being a part of an ensemble on the proscenium stage.

However, during my time in PPY, this dream shifted. I was exposed to a vast number of artists from Australia and overseas who were creating ground-breaking work, or who were doing their research. As well, I was introduced to different forms of training that were not only physical (yoga, pilates, improvisation), but mental (mindfulness, resilience and equanimity). This experience broadened my horizons and showed me the opportunities that were out there – immersive dance theatre, dance films, performance art. As a result, my career aims shifted away from the tunnel vision of dancing on the proscenium stage.

What is the main overall lesson you learnt?

I learnt tools that helped me to tap into mindfulness and self-acceptance. While it was a strong physical preparation for the professional dance industry, it also offered skills around individual mental health and self-care; resilience, equanimity and autonomy.

It focused on coaching dancers in all areas of life. Linda Ridgway [head of training] always said two things: “Human first, artist second, and dancer third”, and “Approach everything with a beginner’s mind”. I think this was her way of letting us dig deep into our authentic self and establish a mindful, healthy relationship with dance as a career.

@violaiida (@sydneydanceco)

This interview is published in the July/Aug/Sep issue of Dance Australia. Buy from your favourite retailer or go here to buy or subscribe. 

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