Meet the New Breed of Australian Dance Creators

New Breed 2022

Sydney Dance Company and Carriageworks

Sydney Dance Company and Carriageworks, in conjunction with The Balnaves Foundation, announce four Australian dance makers commissioned to create works for the acclaimed New Breed initiative that supports Australia’s next generation of choreographers.

“Sydney Dance Company’s New Breed program is such a creative lifeline for the city, and for a fresh wave of choreographic talent to rise up under the supportive wing of one of the world’s most exciting companies, in collaboration with Carriageworks and the Balnaves Foundation.” TimeOut Sydney on New Breed 2021

Co-presented by Carriageworks and Sydney Dance Company – with the generous support of Principal Partner The Balnaves Foundation, New Breed 2022 will provide Australian choreographers Sophia Ndaba (NSW Central Coast), Jenni Large (Hobart), Luke Hayward (Sydney) and Charmene Yap (Sydney) with an invaluable opportunity to work with Australia’s leading contemporary dance company on a newly commissioned dance piece.

Showcasing a rich diversity of choreographic ideas, this talented group of emerging choreographers will create brand new pieces on members of Sydney Dance Company. These four new works will comprise the New Breed 2022 season from 30 November to 17 December.

The New Breed initiative made its debut in November 2014, supporting emerging Australian choreographers through the commissioning and presentation of new dance work. The ninth instalment of New Breed will see Carriageworks, Sydney Dance Company and The Balnaves Foundation continue their commitment to the future of Australian contemporary dance.

From September, these dance makers will benefit from the extensive support of all the departments of Sydney Dance Company in readiness for their premiere season at Carriageworks, later this year.

New Breed is well established as Australia’s most exciting showcase of raw talent and fresh ideas from some of the country’s most gifted emerging choreographers.

Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela says, “Australia is blessed with an extremely rich talent base of dynamic young dance creators. Yet in order for them to grow in their careers and reach their full potential, they need the opportunity to practice – the chance to take their ideas and put them on the stage in front of an audience. New Breed is about giving the next generation of talented young artists the best possible opportunity to experiment and create. The best dancers, the best production, marketing and publicity support, the best space to perform in at Carriageworks. I am delighted to introduce the four choreographers we have commissioned to create for our New Breed 2022 program. I have been personally inspired hearing of their ideas and I look forward to seeing how their works resonate with dance audiences.”

Carriageworks CEO Blair French said, “Carriageworks is proud to work with Sydney Dance Company and The Balnaves Foundation on the ninth edition of New Breed. At Carriageworks, we are committed to supporting the development of new choreography and New Breed is an important platform for artists to develop new ideas that are compelling and ambitious. We are delighted to work with this year’s choreographers, and we can’t wait to bring their vision to the Carriageworks stage. 

Victoria Balnaves of The Balnaves Foundation said, “The Balnaves Foundation is thrilled to continue our support of Sydney Dance Company’s New Breed into its ninth year. As the arts sector continues to navigate it’s return to normality, opportunities to showcase emerging talent are vital for the next generation of creatives. The Balnaves Foundation’s support of these up-and-coming artists in their practice and seeing their vision brought to life by Sydney Dance Company remains an important part of our commitment to cultivating the future of the Arts in Australia.”


Sophia Ndaba

Sophia is a graduate of the McDonald College of Performing Arts and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), qualified with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Her credits include performing for Shaun Parker & Company, La Fura Dels Baus & Opera Australia, Force Majeure, Ensemble Offspring, Britta Lieberknecht & Company and Australian independent choreographers Melanie Lane, Victoria Hunt, Martin Del Amo and Anton.

After moving to Berlin in 2016, Sophia joined electronic artist Clark’s world tour of Death Peak Live (2016-2018), DJ Bobo’s Kaleidoluna European tour (2019) and Lena Meyer Landrut’s Only Love European tour (2019). She danced in large-scale on-screen productions X Factor Germany, season 1 and 2 of The Masked Singer Germany and season 3 of Netflix series, Babylon Berlin.

Sophia’s choreographic work began with the Dance Makers Collective in 2012. Since then, she has been commissioned by Berlin theatre, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse for her solo work, In The Light of a Shadow. She choreographed TVCs for Best & Less, Virgin Australia and more recently for Sky TNT’s new TV series – PARA Wir sind King. Sophia has enjoyed making short works for The McDonald College’s Senior Contemporary dance program, WAAPA’s First Year students and currently works on a new commission for Ev and Bow Full Time Training Centre. She is the recipient of one of Critical Path’s 2022 space grants whereby she seeded the beginning research and development for a new ensemble work for film.

Sophia’s choreographic practice is concerned with universal resonance. By looking into what is common in our human experience as inspiration she builds relationship, meaning and story between bodies in space working to give the audience a deeply felt experience.

Jenni Large

An award-winning choreographer and contemporary dance artist, based on Palawa Country in Lutruwita/Tasmania, Jenni is “grateful to live and dance upon the unceded lands of our First Nations People across Australia.” Jenni is a performer, teacher, and a rehearsal director who is passionate about living and working regionally and sharing the vitality of the dancing experience through the various limbs of her practice.

Graduating from Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAPPA) in 2010, Jenni has worked extensively across independent and company environments, performing regionally, nationally and internationally. From 2015 to 2020, as a formative ensemble member with Kyle Page & Amber Haines at Dancenorth she performed in a plethora of award-winning works by renowned choreographers at home and throughout America, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Europe.

Recent engagements include; Rehearsal Director at Australasian Dance Collective, collaborator and performer with Legs on the Wall in THAW and as an ongoing collaborator with Ashleigh Musk and GUTS Dance, Central Australia.

Recent works include; Flesh Net – WAAPA, All Expenses Paid – STOMPIN, Trio for Harp, Harpist & Dancer (with Emily Sanzaro) – Tasdance, Ten Days on The Island, and Faux Mo House Party – Mona Foma 2022. Jenni was thrilled to receive the 2022 Keir Choreographic ‘People’s Choice Award’ for her new work Wet Hard.

Jenni is currently a Creative Associate at Tasdance, where she continues to develop the many aspects of her practice. Choreographically her interests merge dance, performance/endurance art and visual art. Centralising materials, costuming and objects including foam, plaster and netting to explore how the body is in relationship to ‘other’, transfixed on unpacking current and historical socio-political issues. Her new independent work, Body Body Commodity, is an investigation of the impacts of consumerism and capitalism on the female body.

Charmene Yap

Charmene is a multi-award-winning dancer, rehearsal director and choreographer. She is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Purchase College New York, and in her early career, was a recipient of an Australian Council Skills and Development Grant and nominee of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Award.

Prior to her decade of performing for Sydney Dance Company, Charmene danced for companies Chunky Move, Tasdance, Dancenorth, Lucy Guerin Inc., Armitage Gone! Dance Company and worked with numerous choreographers including Tanja Liedtke, Antony Hamilton and Sue Healey. She has featured in films including Think Of Yourself As Plural by David Rosetzky, Del Kathryn Barton’s Red, and Katie Noonan’s music clip Quicksand.

Charmene joined Sydney Dance Company as a Company Dancer in 2010, performing the majority of works by artistic director Rafael Bonachela, and other Australian and international choreographers including William Forsythe, Alexander Ekman, Stephanie Lake, Emmanual Gat, Jacopo Godani, Melanie Lane, Gabrielle Nankivell, Andonis Foniadakis and Prue Lang amongst others. Her dancing and performances earned her critical acclaim with numerous nominations and awards including: Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer in 2012 and Australian Dance Award in 2013 for her role in 2 One Another; Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer in 2014 for 2 in D Minor; and the Helpmann Award nomination in 2019 for Cinco.

Charmene choreographed for Sydney Dance Company’s first New Breed season in 2014. Her work Do We, was also performed in Perth by Co3 Company. More recently, as Assistant Choreographer, she worked with Gideon Obarzanek in creating Us 50 which celebrated Sydney Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary.

In September 2019, Charmene commenced her new role as Sydney Dance Company’s inaugural Rehearsal Associate, supported by Sydney Dance Company’s Dancers’ Circle and the Nelson Meers Foundation. In this role, she works with both the artistic and education departments; with Company dancers, PPY dancers and on other professional development programs.

Luke Hayward

Luke was born in Alice Springs, Australia and received his early training at Central Dance Theatre and Alice Springs Gymnastics before moving to Sydney to train at Tanya Pearson’s Classical Coaching Academy and Studio Tibor. Luke then furthered his studies in Germany by completing a Bachelor of Dance at Palucca Hochschule für Tanz Dresden with Honours. Throughout his studies, Luke undertook workshops of the Ohad Naharin Gaga movement language and William Forsythe Improvisation Technology.

Luke was previously a Company dancer with Balet Moskva, Russia from 2016 – 2018, performing in both the Ballet and Contemporary Ensembles. Luke has interned with Centre Chorégraphique National de Rillieux-la-Pape Lyon, France in 2014, Semperoper Dresden, Germany in 2014 and participated in the 5th Biennale Tanzausbildung in 2016. Luke was also part of the ensemble for Karin Ponties ‘Every Direction is North’, which won The Golden Mask Award for ‘The Best Performance in Modern Dance’ in 2017.

Luke has worked with and performed the repertoire of an extensive array of choreographers, including Rafael Bonachela, George Balanchine, Gabrielle Nankivell, Melanie Lane, Gideon Obarzanek, Ohad Naharin, Juanjo Arques, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Karine Ponties, Robert Binet, Ihsan Rustem.

Luke joined Sydney Dance Company in 2019 and New Breed 2022 will be his choreographic debut.

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