Sydney Dance Co – Inaugural Pre Professional Year Training Program

Kelsey Smith

SDC Inaugural Pre Professional Year Training Program

by Toni Ambrogetti
In November last year Sydney Dance Company announced the 26 lucky young dancers who will make up the first class of SDC’s new Pre-Professional Program commencing for the first time in Feburary this year. Over 220 dancers from all over Australia and New Zealand auditioned for the new fulltime program. SDC is Australia’s leading contemporary company and the nationally accredited course will open doors for young dancers to not only receive the highest quality training but network with the best directors, chorographers and dance educators in Australia’s contemporary industry.
Eight dancers hail from regional NSW, and two from the same dance school in Newcastle, a town famous for its dancers such as Olivia Bell and Robert Curran, Australian Ballet Company Principals.
Kelsey Smith, 21, and Isabella Ostermann, 19 grew up dancing together at Newcastle Dance Academy, run by Isabella’s mum Tracy Caldwell and Roxanne McCourtie.
I recently caught up with Kelsey about the exciting new adventure she is about to dive into.
When did you hear about the audition and how did you audition?
Kelsey – I first heard about the audition from my contemporary teacher, Katrina Lentfer. I was actually overseas at the time attending a summer intensive and wasn’t sure if I’d be in Australia for 2014 so it was a bit last minute to get my application in. I auditioned at the live Sydney auditions with everyone else, a little over 200 people auditioned split up between 4 classes and the audition itself consisted of a ballet class and 3 contemporary exercises at the end.
When did you first find out you had been accepted and how did you feel?
I got the call to say I was accepted only about 6 days before the deadline for deposits/paperwork. Isabella found out much earlier than me & by the time I was accepted I’d already convinced myself I wasn’t going to get in! So I was obviously very surprised and appreciative when I got the call from Linda. 
Has SDC been an inspiration for you in your dance life?
Kelsey – Sydney Dance Company were the first Australian contemporary company I ever saw & it was such an eye opening experience to me, to see dancers that weren’t that singular aesthetic that you so often see in ballet companies. SDC showed me that there are other ways to be a successful dancer and that every single part of your body can be moved and used to create something beautiful.
What are you most looking forward to in the new course?
Kelsey – I’m really just looking forward to improving as much as I possibly can and pushing my body to new limits. It’s exciting to be a part of the inaugural pre-professional year, we’re the first group the experience whatever amazing course SDC has created.
How will you feel living away from home?
Kelsey – I’ve spent about 8 months of the past year travelling alone for auditions and summer intensives & lived in New York City for 3 months at the start of this year. I’m confident that living independently won’t be a struggle for me.  I’m in an extremely fortunate position, my Dad lives in Sydney during the week for work and has an apartment in the city. He won’t be in the apartment for much of next year as he’s a crewmember on Young Endeavour for the round the World Voyage so I’ll have the place to myself!
What would you like to do after the course?
Kelsey – Ultimately, get a job! I’ll probably head overseas to Europe during audition season.
What is your ultimate goal during 2014?
To do everything I can do to become the best dancer I can be.
Are you excited to have a friend before you even start the course?
Kelsey – -Of course! Isabella & I have danced together for a long time and having someone I already know will help settle those first day jitters. I am really looking forward to meeting the other dancers and making new friends too.
How long have you been dancing?
Kelsey – I’ve been dancing since I was about 5 years old when my family moved to Newcastle.
When did you know dance was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Kelsey – While I’ve always loved to dance & dreamed of doing it professionally, I didn’t really know if dancing professionally was something I’d be able to achieve. I’ve never had the feet for ballet and was always on the small & weak side when I was younger. I was also very focused on academics and wanted to do well at school so that I’d always have a back up plan. When I was in year 12 I got very ill with glandular fever and was unable to dance for most of that year, after that I had to decide whether I wanted to work to regain my technique and muscles & see if I could pursue a dance career. I made that decision and have been working towards a career in dance seriously since 2011.
Kelsey, along with the other 25 dancers in the course will commence their course on February 3 and will study many classes including Ballet, Yoga, Contemporary technique and even Sydney Dance Company Repertoire. SDC’s Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela said “It was an incredible process for our artistic team to audition so many talented young dancers, all looking for ways to develop their skills, in the hope of having a professional dance career. I am very excited at the opportunities this new course presents, and can’t wait to welcome them to Sydney Dance Company in 2014”.