Dance Study Guides by Benny Bent

Dance: Full Time Study Guides
by Benny Bent

ACK in the late nineties when I was a full-time dance student, I had an idea
for a dance work about telephones. These were the last halcyon days of the
landline, and, while mobile phone calls were still relatively expensive, there
was already a sense that we were on the cusp of a telephonic revolution.
Just days later, a group of us were discussing the upcoming auditions for our school’s
annual season of student choreography when my friend Michelle Fossa said, “I’d like to
do a piece about telephones.” My head jerked up and I blurted out, “But I want to do a
piece about telephones.” There was a moment of tension and then Michelle said
hesitantly, “Perhaps we could do it together?”
Thus began a choreographic collaboration that would prove one of the most rewarding
experiences of my dance degree. Michelle and I shared a similar sense of humour and
loved building on each other’s ideas to extract maximum comedic value. We also
complemented one another – I enjoyed
constructing scenarios, while Michelle’s
strength was creating detailed and
quirky movement. Two minds proved
better than one; challenges were jointly
brainstormed. When our piece, Moshi Moshi, was
described as “the highlight of the [students works]
program” in The West Australian newspaper, our
delight was all the sweeter for being shared.
Interviewing artistic duos for our new “Great
Collaborations” feature, I remembered the joy of
that artistic spark, of sharing a vision, of that jigsaw-like meeting of strengths. While
Michelle and I were just students, and the choreographers I have interviewed are
highly regarded professionals, talking to them brought back that incredible feeling of
finding an artistic soul-mate.
It feels timely, too, to reflect on this memory as we present our 2017 Full-Time Studies
Guide. The process of developing a concept, selecting a cast, creating and rehearsing a work,
offering the work-in-progress for audition and, finally, presenting the completed work to the
public was a crucial stepping stone into professional life. It taught me skills in creating, teaching
and refining work that I use again and again as an editor, writer and teacher. That is what
full-time training is all about – bridging the gap between schooling and the profession.

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