The story is what matters

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Brett Morgan OAM was first asked to teach by Janet Vernon when he was in Sydney Dance Company. He hasn’t looked back since.

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been at National College of Dance now for 10 years but have been teaching for over 35 years as I taught as a guest teacher while I was a professional dancer and ballet master, rehearsal director and associate artistic director of Sydney Dance Company.

How do you balance the importance of technique with the importance of artistry?

The most important thing is taking the audience on a journey and telling a story.

Expression, emotion, engagement and connection with your audience are paramount for them to be drawn into your performance. Dancers can sometimes be stifled by the need to achieve perfect technique. Balancing this is giving the student an understanding that technique is learnt in the studio. In a performance they need to trust their training and just let go and perform. I believe an audience will forgive some areas of technique if they are emotionally engaged with your performance. A technical dancer with no emotional engagement can be lovely to watch but sometimes leave you wanting more.

What has changed since you were a student?

A lot has changed.  Athleticism, technology, medicine and “safe dance” all now take dancers’ technique to another level. The influences in ballet have changed. The students and dancers are in a brand new world of creating new work because the original choreographers are no longer around to teach their wonderful works. Therefore, dancers are experiencing the incredibly creative process of new choreography, leading to a new and exciting era.  One hopes that there will always be a balance between the two. Great masters and new works.

This article was published in our Focus on Teaching special issue of Dance Australia (Oct/Nov/Dec 2021). Did you miss it? Subscribe and never miss an issue!

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