Dancers Find New Work is Their Forté

Travis Clausen-Knight and Kristy Lee-Denovan. Photos: TruPics

Seven young dancers aged from 15 to 19 from the Projection Dance School (PDS) in Wodonga performed with some of the world’s best contemporary dancers at Melbourne’s Federation Square and The Cube Wodonga in FORTE’.

 A collaboration between M&T Projection, a three-year formal partnership between locally born internationally acclaimed choreographer, Tim Podesta, and the Italian dancer and principal guest artist of The Royal Ballet, Mara Galeazzi, with London’s star contemporary dancers, James Pett and Travis S C Knight and Spain’s Marlon Dino, the FORTE’ program premieres three new works including PROXIMITY, a new work by Australian choreographer, Simon Hoy.

Border Cafe caught up with two of the young local dancers, Peter-John Simmonds 19 and India Stewart 18 during a break in rehearsal to talk about life as dancers at PDS and the unique opportunity they have had to work with international dancers.

James Pett, Casey Wallis (18), Valentina Dillon (18), Jaimee Heffernan (17), Laura Trebley (15), India Stewart (18), TRAvis Clausen-Knight.

Projection Dance School, a partner school of the Regional Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) founded by Tim and Jennifer Podesta, is an elite vocational training and full-time program for young dancers, from regional Australia and overseas to train at the highest level.

The school gives young dancers an education of mastering of technique and skill development, and couples the skills with innovation, collaboration and leadership as a foundation for long term artistic careers and personal fulfilment. It has a focus on classical ballet, contemporary dance and cross training principles aligned with individualised conditioning programs to create healthy bodies and healthy minds. Graduates from the school are performing all over the world.

Peter-John moved from Tumut to Albury-Wodonga early in 2017 to take up a place at PDS.

“It happened in the course of two weeks, and it was a bit scary moving on my own and having to motivate myself. To be honest I would say my dancing at that stage was not at a very high level, but dancing every day has benefited me so much,” Peter-John said.

India is a more recent arrival having moved from Wollongong at the beginning of this year where she studied classical ballet. While classical is still part of the school’s program she is enjoying the opportunity to do more contemporary dance.

“My contemporary technique has improved so much and like Peter-John said it’s because we are dancing every day.”

The two are thrilled to not only be working with the international artists, but also to have been involved in the creation of the work.

“I’ve been used to working with a set piece of choreography. This is a longer process where Tim usually stands in the front of the room and starts moving and then we copy him and follow his movement pattern. Once we have learnt the sequence of movements then we perform it one by one solo. He then works with us to improve what we are doing,” India said.

For Peter-John there’s a magic in the creation of the work.

“We learn all of these sequences but then we don’t really know how it is going to work out, and then we finally see it work and Tim puts it together and it all fits and it’s incredible.”

The two young dancers have also enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to work with the overseas artists.

“Just by watching them you pick up so much that you wouldn’t see from other dancers not at that level. You see that they adapt the choreography to their own style straight away and they really match it to their body and their type of dancing so that’s really cool to see and different to what we usually see,” India said.

And for India, FORTE’ presents a number of ‘first’ experiences.

“I’ve performed in larger venues in Sydney in competitions but not in a full show, so it’s going to be very cool and amazing to perform at Deakin Edge amid the gorgeous architecture of Federation Square.”

Peter-John is encouraging Border audiences to come to The Cube for Saturday’s performance.

“They can come and see something amazing, a work and dancers of the calibre you usually wouldn’t see in a regional place.”

The visiting dancers have also been running workshops and masterclasses for dancers and dance teachers during their stay.

Find out more at

Details: 7.30pm, Saturday 26 May
The Cube Wodonga