DanceLife Interviews Mark Hodge

Published on 28th Aug, 2011

MarkHodgeDanceLife recently caught up with dancer, choreographer and model Mark Hodge about his very diverse career.

1.       One of your first professional jobs was dancing for the Australian Ballet. Was this always a goal for you growing up as a young male dancer?

I was with a small Classical company before the AB but went through the Adelaide Centre For Performing Arts which was a Martha Graham based dance degree with strong Classical background. I always imagined going to Sydney Dance Company as I didn’t think you could enter the AB without going through the school. Whilst attending class at the National Ballet Theatre with Johnathan Kelly after auditioning for Sydney Dance Company he asked me if I had thought of the AB. He introduced me to Maina Geilgud, the Artistic Director at the time and she invited me to do class with the company for two weeks. It was during that time that I was offered a contract which was very exciting for me and a major turning point in my career.

2.       You were one of the lucky dancers who performed in Graeme Murphy’s Tivoli. What did you enjoy most about this experience?

Tivoli was a wonderful production and having the chance to work with Graeme and Janet again was a complete joy. The marriage of Formal Dance with musical theatre, as I was also playing the role of ‘Scotty’ was also completely fulfilling for me. You also got to perform different pieces in the production on a rotation which was challenging.

3.       West Side Story has been a huge part of your life. What makes you keep returning to work on this show?

WSS is such a masterpiece both musically and choreographically and a TRUE triple threat musical. It is a timeless story. I choreographed a production in Adelaide and the time signatures vary so much that it is quite challenging. I remember analysing the music on flights back and forth from Sydney to Adelaide to find accents and emotion in the score. It is when I did this that I really got into how amazing Bernstein’s score really is. WSS along with CHICAGO are definitely my favourite productions.

4.       How difficult was it for you to make the transition from classical dancer to commercial dancer?

I started doing Ballroom and Latin American when I was young and then went to Jazz, Contemporary and Classical in that order. Going into the latter forms of dance was hard but I always loved Jazz and kept it up even through my Classical career. The Classical helps with understanding the body and protecting oneself from too much injury, although I have sustained quite a few along the way:) For me it wasn’t a hard transition and in fact I think it made me more employable.

5.       You were involved in the Australian production of Priscilla which is now on Broadway. Has Broadway ever been a dream for you?

Yes it was a dream for me and at one stage I almost took off to pursue it but there was always a job for me back here in Australia….maybe in another life 🙂

6.       Most people would recognise you from Dancing With The Stars. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from working on this television platform?

Now that is an interesting question. TV is an interesting medium. My achievements off television have been far greater but much less recognised. You do get slotted into only doing one form of dance and people are quite shocked when they know you have had a vast career beforehand. I certainly enjoy the show and the people I get to work with.  I think the biggest lesson is that the show isn’t always about the dance ability for the Celebrity but about their popularity with the viewers who vote but still a great production for entertainment value and the celebration of dance.

Mark is represented by Jeep Management www.jeepmanagement.com

www.markhodge.com.au

About Mark Hodge

Mark is a former member of the Australian Ballet Co. where he toured throughout the USA, ASIA and Australia under the directorship of Maina Geigud. Mark moved to Sydney from Melbourne and worked with the Australian Opera Ballet as soloist in Robert Ray’s ‘The Merry Widow’ as ‘The Gigolo’, the same version which was performed by the late Kelvin Coe. Mark later guested with the Australian Ballet in 1995 as soloist in Maurice Bejart’s ‘Le Concour’ and worked with Sydney Dance Co. performing the role of ‘Scotty’ in Graeme Murphy’s ‘Tivoli‘.

Mark  has been in the musical theatre world for a majority of his performing life playing ‘Pepe’ and covering Bernardo in IMG’s production of ‘West Side Story’. He also played ‘Riff’ as a guest artist with the QUT’s production in Brisbane.

After teaching workshops in Adelaide he was asked to choreograph a co-op production, in Adelaide in 2003 in which he achieved critical acclaim.

He also played ‘Fred Caseley’ in the 1998-2000 touring production of ‘Chicago’ as well as appearing in touring productions of ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, ‘Cats’, ‘Hello Dolly’, ‘Seven Little Australians’, and most recently ‘Priscilla‘, in which he was also dance captain. Mark also dance captained and performed in Disney’s ‘Musical All Star Fantasy’ in 1997. He was also one of the lead dancers in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Moulin Rouge‘, as well as appearing in the feature film ‘Scooby Doo‘.

People may remember Mark from series one and two of ‘Dancing With The Stars‘, where he appeared with Gabrielle Richens and Holly Brisley. In his early years he was a six time Ballroom and Latin American Champion in his home state of South Australia.

Mark has choreographed extensively for corporate events throughout Australia as well as cabaret performances and dance fashion parades in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. He devised the movement for the State Theatre of SA’s production of ‘Equus’, where he also played the role of ‘nugget’ and ‘The Horseman’. He recently choreographed a musical play called ‘The Letter’ for Chloe Dallimore for the Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane.

He has just finished choreographing a play called ‘Syncopation‘ for a Melbourne season at Chapel Off Chapel of which was also given critical acclaim.

Mark has been a regular adjudicator for the Super Talent Network for ‘Showcase Dance Championships’, ‘Australian Dance Championships’ and was a guest adjudicator for the 2009 Sydney Eisteddfod in Classical, Contemporary and Jazz for heats and finals.

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