Independent dance creator and performer Tobiah Booth-Remmers reflects on how his full-time training at Adelaide College of the Arts has influenced his professional practice.
Where are you from?
I was born in Victoria but moved to South Australia with my family when I was 10 years old.
Where did you undertake your full-time training?
Adelaide College of the Arts.
What level of education had you attained before beginning your full-time training?
Year 11 at high school but I had completed SACE 2 Dance (Yr 12 Dance) in Year 11.
How did you find the transition from full-time studies to the profession?
I found the transition difficult as you are suddenly thrown into the industry and have to be very self-disciplined and self-motivated to build a career. It’s a big learning curve and there’s no one holding your hand.
What were the most important benefits of your studies?
My studies gave me a really strong technical base and understanding of physical form as well as a lot of performance experience. These were really important foundations from which to begin building my own style. Studying at AC Arts also introduced me directly to choreographers and dancers in the industry that I could approach after my graduation. This was a really valuable link to the industry that I could utilise immediately upon graduation and helped me to establish my career.
How quickly did you gain employment upon graduation?
I think it took me about a year or a little longer to gain employment. When I first graduated I contacted a lot of local choreographers and artists and asked if I could do work experience on their projects. This later converted into jobs with the choreographers. I also gained employment at Tasdance very early on in my career, which allowed me to work with some of the top choreographers in Australia.
Tell us a little about your practice.
I work as a freelance artist, which involves working across a number of different professions within contemporary dance. I teach a lot, mainly for universities in Australia as well as running workshops overseas. Most recently I was teaching in Israel and will teach in Europe during their summer.
Along with this I create my own choreographic work, which is a big focus for me. Sometimes this is on tertiary students, but I also develop my own professional projects. I perform a lot too; the most recent major production I was involved in was Brink Production's piece, Memorial, which was presented in the Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival and Barbican Centre in London.
Occasionally I take on jobs such as sitting for audition or assessment panels or stage management gigs. I think as a freelance artist you need to have a wide range of skills and be flexible with your career and your art and how that is fulfilled. Freelancing can be scary, but it’s also very exciting.
Any advice you would like to offer students?
I do think that there are two really important things for students to be aware of:
1) Realise that your work ethic is what is going to ensure your survival in the industry. If you know how to work for yourself and get things done off your own back, then you will always be able to continue forward.
2) Educate yourself. Know what is out there beyond the teachers, dancers and companies in your home city or in Australia. Be curious for yourself. Try and discover as much about performance throughout the world as you can.
This interview is part of our 2020 Full-Time Studies Guide, published in the August/September 2019 issue of Dance Australia. Subscribe to Dance Australia here or Dance Australia at your favourite retail outlet, or online here.