I grew up in Port Headland, WA – I was a little jazz girl. This was the first style of dance I learnt. The first ‘propper’ dance training I did, however, was after I moved to Perth and studied classical ballet full time for about six or seven years. After this, I moved to Brisbane for a year where I completed the Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program. This was where I first touched base with contemporary dance, working with Amy Hollingsworth as my contemporary teacher. In 2016, after this year away, I moved back to Perth to join the West Australian Ballet. There were a few seasons there with the WAB where I danced ‘contemporary’ again with guest choreographers from overseas. Though I still mainly focused on ballet, I enjoyed the contemporary dancing more.
On Contemporary Dance ...
In retrospect, I wish I’d went with it [contemporary] earlier. When I was in Brisbane I thought ‘ooo wow, I really like this way more’, but I liked the discipline of ballet. It was when I was working with the choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in Perth that I knew this was what I wanted to do. I decided to leave the Ballet in search of this.
After a few chats with fellow dancer Tara Gower, we think she took me for a workshop in around 2008, when I lived in Port Headland. I went to Karratha and watched Bangarra perform for the first time – they were the first professional company I ever saw - and I did the workshop as well. I remember getting there in my ballet tights and with my ballet bun … and doing a Bangarra workshop! It was then that I thought ‘this was really cool’.
I saw Bangarra again when they came to Mandurah a few years later. I’ve always loved Bangarra, how they work, and the stories they share. I was always hoping that eventually I’d end up here.
I think it’s good that Stephen (Page) has so many new dancers here. I think it’s nice because there are a lot of new people and it’s ‘fresh’ and has a different energy. It’s good that Stephen can see the new things we might be able to bring to the table, even working on remounts but with new people; we bring new ways of interpreting his way of thinking. I’m really excited to get in there and see what happens.
I think the most important thing here for me at the moment is being open minded and learning from everyone – not just Stephen and Dan (Roberts) – everyone has something different to offer. The biggest challenge is the style of Bangarra.
In terms of traditional dance, I have only touched on this. I have catching up to do. It’s daunting because it’s almost like second nature for everyone in this company – for the people who’ve been here for a long time and even for the people who’ve just joined with me, as they have studied it for a long time as well. I’m like a little sponge waiting to get all this physical information and soak it up. It’s exciting but at the same time I am a little bit nervous.
It’s almost like I must be vulnerable to forgetting everything I already know so I can make room for everything else. It’s all very overwhelming - but in a good way. Doing ballet, I know exactly where my limbs are and how I’m supposed to be. Erasing all of that and finding myself in a completely new style has been hard for me.
Everyone has their own little thing and I think it’s really important that I stay true to myself while moulding a ‘Bangarra’ style; taking it all on in my own way to find my own place here – my little character.
I’m already feeling more comfortable – not lazy comfortable but more settled.
Courtney spent most of her childhood in Port Headland where she first found her passion for dance. After completing classical and contemporary ballet training across the country, she joined Bangarra in 2019.Explore profile