Debbie Ellis chats to DanceLife!

Published on 22nd May, 2014

Debbie Ellis Linnert

Debbie is a renowned dance teacher and choreographer and is well known for her dynamic and inspirational work. Over the past 20 years Debbie has gained a wealth of experience both as an international and residential teacher/ choreographer. During this time Debbie has developed not only as a choreographer but has been committed to enhancing the technical skill of students at an elite level.

Debbie was invited to choreograph for the 1st series of So You Think You Can Dance Australia and was a regular choreographer for both the 2nd, 3rd  and the most recent 4th series. She was honoured with choreographing seven times with exceptional comments and feedback from the judges and viewers alike. For one of her most moving pieces with Jay Johns and Ashleigh Tavares, judge Paula Abdul commented, ‘That was the most beautiful thinkg I have ever seen!”

Debbie spent some time with us recently chatting about her time on SYTYCD and the Australian dance scene in general!

What did you enjoy about SYTYCD this year?

I think this year was great! I’ve done a couple of seasons now and I really think that they had a good lot of talent this year and I really think the show ended on a big high which aim very pleased about. Ending on such a good note has been amazing for dance and the community. I found that everything was great, the judges were good and the dancers were too.

How do you feel the talent was this year in comparison to other years?

I feel that the dancers this year were definitely more versatile then they have been in the past. Usually if I am told I have a B Boy for contemporary I have a mini heart attack but Blond has definitely been the exception. And it wasn’t just Blond, across the board they were more versatile. I feel as though since the last few series everyone in the dance community is working to become more versatile so that they are able to go for a variety of jobs. I believe that these days the dancers HAVE to be versatile! … and these dancers definitely were. I believe that was one of the great successes of the show.

Where do you find inspiration for all of your amazing pieces?

A lot of the time its drawn from my own life experiences but sometimes I could just be driving the car and an idea comes into my head. Sometimes I have the concept first and then I try to find the music and then other times I’m actually inspired by the piece of music to then bring something to the table.

Tell us a little more about your background…

I actually didn’t do a lot of training myself, when I was 10 my mum used to get my friends to come around and I used to choreograph dances on them… my poor friends haha!  I was always choreographing, it was always my thing. I trained at Brent Street, I was actually there in the first year of Brent Street Performing Arts. I always had a contemporary passion though and i just wanted to choreograph and teach more than anything else. I didn’t particularly want to dance myself, my passion was to create!

After I finished studying I travelled, went to the UK and taught. When I came back I really got into choreography and everything else a lot more. Choreographing has forever been my passion.

I feel that with SYTYCD, it wasn’t nessacarily just about the choreography or the concept but it was the way that you work with the dancers that you are given, in the time frame that you are given. Its the way that you can adapt to the dancers that you have and make them look amazing within that time frame. I think that the underlying trick with choreographing is you have to walk in to that studio and be ready for anything.

How does the process work to get to the ending product of a piece on SYTYCD?

The first thing is that the music has to be cleared and then the concept. From there we can go ahead as choreographers to create a piece. The producers have input whether its to do with costuming or with lighting or even the choreography itself… i always believe that the more sets of eyes you can have on a routine the better because some people can highlight things that you maybe haven’t thought about. But yeah, you are pretty much left to your own devices, your left to choreograph.. its good because they know when to let you do your thing as well. I feel I get on really well with the producers and everyone on the show so its great! I really think they have done a great job with the show, they put there heart and soul into the show!

Whats next for you?

Busy, busy doing workshops and masterclasses and more choreography around the country.  Just running off how SYTYCD has left everyone so INSPIRED!

Ashleigh Tavares & Jay Johns dance an emotional piece by Debbie Ellis

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