What got you into dancing?
I have been dancing for as long as I can remember. I started around the age of 5 or 6 when my mum put me into my first ballet class. Ever since I started I have always loved it especially because of both the physical and mental challenges it entails. Each year I began doing more classes such as jazz, tap, acrobatics and contemporary that helped me stay motivated and to mix it up. I had a break from dancing for 3 years when I started high school but was brought back to it and have not stopped since.
What dancer(s) inspire you?
Being inspired by other dancers is such a great way to stay motivated within the industry. I don’t personally have one dancer who I am inspired by but I definitely work off the people I am surrounded by. My teachers have a big impact on motivating me to work harder but definitely the people who you dance with push you to be better then yourself. I have been lucky to have shared my dancing journey with boys and girls who have a similar drive to me and the little competition you share inspires you to grow and achieve.
Do you hope to become a professional dancer?
I have only recently finished school and have suffered from an injury so my professional career has been put on hold; however, I am working towards becoming a professional dancer in the future. From a young age I have wanted to be in a contemporary or ballet company, touring and then as I get older get into teaching. The goal as of this moment would be to train as a fulltime dancer and gain the skills needed to be versatile for a multiple of jobs.
Why do you love to dance?
Dancing for me is something I have known my entire life and I think that has impacted my passion for it. It allows me to not only be physically fit but challenges me mentally because it is draining and requires a strong mindset in order to push through things. I love the constant challenge it provides and friendships that are made through dance. My closest friends have all danced with me and we have experienced similar emotions and stresses but their support and your love for dance helps you get through. Even if I don’t continue as a dancer I will always love it.
What kind of emotions do you feel / give off when you dance?
During a dance my emotions are normally drawn from the style or the song choice. In contemporary I tend to have a neutral expression and convey feelings through my body rather then my face. If my mood is representing anger my movement has a stronger dynamic in comparison to if I was sad my movement quality would be sustained and drawn out. When performing a jazz piece I play with my face and tell the story with subtle smiles or accents within the music. Giving off emotion is not just about the face but it’s about everything working in sync to create an overall image or snapshot of feelings.
What are some of your goals for dance?
My biggest goal in dancing at the moment is to gain a place in the New Zealand School of Dance Training Program of 2016 and then eventually join their company. In terms of short term goals I would want to build on my performance and continue to develop and grow in all aspect whether it be to improve my point work in ballet or style in jazz.
Tell us how do you balance your uni work and dance.
I think that a balance of uni, friends, dance and rest is so vital. Time management was my best friend because it allowed me to plan my weeks and figure out times to fit everything in making sure I had equal balance between all. During the week I would go to school and in the afternoon would get my homework done before dancing or even do it on the way to dancing or in my breaks so that when I finished I could go straight home and rest. On the weekends I aimed to go out only one night whether it be Friday or Saturday and the other night I would get work done or just relax and recover. Seeing my friends regularly was important to me because it made me happy and I am a very social person so that for me was relaxing. I think one day a week you should have nothing on so after school you can either catch up on work or hang out with friends or just relax and break up the week.
Do you have a favourite style of dance?
My favourite style of dance is by far contemporary with a classical feel. I love floor work and learning new ways to move your body in big and small ways. Contemporary is the one style that I can make one really simple movement so much more by manipulating dynamic qualities and find your dancing style. It also allows you to feel a lot more emotion through movement. The strength and flexibility required for this style is challenging and I think that’s why it’s my style of choice.
Is there another style of dance that you like to try?
I have been lucky enough to have, trained in a variety of styles of dance such as jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and even acrobatics. I definitely would love to give ballroom dancing a go because I think it is a style that isn’t commonly taught in studios, as it’s a great foundation to have going into the professional world. The costumes they were are also a incentive.
How do you feel when you perform?
It’s a feeling that is hard to explain but it’s an amazing feeling because it’s the time where you can give it all you have got and just enjoy the time you have on stage. It’s a time to show off and show everyone what you can do and what they would love to be able to do.
What inspires you to keep on dancing?
The dancers around me inspire me. The way we challenge each other inspires me to keep going. I also think the love for dance needs to be there in order for you to want to build on what you have, but that’s with anything. If you love what you do then there is no limit I guess.
Do you have any dancer role models?
Probably my HSC dance teacher Miss Bennie. She is a lady who captures the passion for dance and has showed me the way within the industry. Working with her has taught me that dancing isn’t just about being technically perfect but it’s about how you make the audience feel and I think that advice enabled me to grow and find my love for it. She has also been there through a stressful time of dancing but taught me ways to look after myself and I think its such an important factor to know when your body needs a break.
What is your favorite part about Dancing?
I want to say everything but I truly do think it’s the performance side of it. When performing it’s the one time you can show off to all your friends and family and you feel satisfaction because you have worked so hard to get to that moment. The best thing about performing is that its fun and you don’t have to think about anything-just have to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to my end of year performance already because I know how great it is to just enjoy the dance rather then worry about being perfect.
Why are costumes so important for dance competition?
Costumes have been one of my favourite aspects about dance. I think costumes make the final image of a piece and can turn a message into a story. They are also so much fun and can help you portray characters and get you into the mood of what you’re trying to connect with. Always have a dress rehearsal… just so you don’t freak out and are comfortable on the big night.
What advice can you offer young dancers who are just starting out?
Pick up any opportunity you can when your young. Do as many classes and mix them up. I think also Pilates is a great form of exercise if you’re a dancer because it not only helps with strength and flexibility but it provides a safe foundation for tricky movements and reduces the risk of injuries. Also I regret not using singing lessons at school or even joining the choir because having that up your sleeve will help in the long run. Take it all when you can and never give up just keep at it but also have a balance of dance, school and friends. If you base everything around dance you can over do it and lose drive.
How do you connect with other dancers, and audience?
Eye contact!!! This is my favourite type of connection when performing. When I try to connect using my eyes as well as lifting up from the chest allows the audience to feel what you feel and be connected to the performance not ignored. It shows confidence making it comfortable for those watching.
Do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I am a bit of a dag and I do love a good dance book. Alvin Ailey’s biography is one of my favourites because I love his works and his story demonstrates how such passion for dance can open so many opportunities for others. The meanings of his works are powerful and they do motivate me so I think this book does give you drive after reading. Also check out his work ‘Cry’.
Where do we find you? (list office, links websites & contacts)
Facebook: Hannah Pentecost
Dance Dr Company (Lucy Mary Claire): 0400445336 or email@example.com