New Zealand apprenticeship
For young Sydney dancer Kaya Weight (17), competing in the Alana Haines Australasia Awards in 2019 resulted in a sliding doors moment. One of the judges of the competition was the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) artistic director, Patricia Barker who, after watching Weight perform, offered her an apprentice with the company.
Weight, a student of Gillian Revie at Classical Ballet 121 in Sydney, had a month to relocate to New Zealand to commence her contract in May 2019. Weight explains: “The move was very sudden, but my mother was able to come over with me initially for the first three weeks. RNZB was extremely supportive during this time, especially because I had just turned seventeen. They helped us with what seemed like a seamless transition”.
Since commencing with the company, Weight has performed in the corps de ballet as a swan in Mário Radačovský’s neoclassical ballet, Black Swan White Swan, as well as in Patricia Barker’s staging of Serenade by George Balanchine, as part of the RNZB’s Bold Moves tour. Weight has also performed in the world premiere of Loughlan Prior’s Hansel and Gretel. She is embracing all that company life offers, explaining that she feels the support of the other dancers in the company that “really feels like one big family”.
Being an apprentice is a great way for a young dancer to begin a professional ballet career, because it allows you to grow and learn in a company setting, Weight says. She is one of six apprentices with the RNZB along with 38 dancers, soloists and principals.
When the company is at home in Wellington, Weight’s day starts with a morning company class taken by either the ballet masters or the director, followed by rehearsals. When on tour there are technical and production rehearsals following a morning on-stage class, with performances in the evening. Weight says that touring with the company has been a highlight: “I love to travel and experience new places and cultures”.
Weight credits the coaching and training that she received with Gillian Revie at Classical Ballet 121 with her success. She says that she was well prepared for company life during her time at the school, only taking up fulltime dance training four years ago. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without the teachers at Classical Ballet 121. They did not only help me to prepare artistically through pure technical form, but they also guided me in personal development, helped me set realistic personal goals and prepared me for the future.”
In terms of her ultimate goal, it is constantly changing as she is inspired by her experiences. Four years ago her goal was to one day work with a national ballet company – tick! “Everyone wants to do the big roles, but at the moment I’m more focused on the small progressions and daily goals.”
- MICHELLE DURSUN