WHSPA dancers learn from best choreographers - Thomas Bradley, Sarah Boulter and Michelle Forte

An elite group of dance students at the Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts are for the first time getting a taste of what it’s like to put on a professional production with “In Motion”.

The production, performed on Thursday, was the culmination of months of work through the school’s inaugural Pre-Professional Dance Company.

Head dance teacher Emily Ireland said the school did a great job of educating their students in various styles of performance but often they left year 12 without any auditions or sound experience.

“It’s trying to bridge that gap so they can get that exposure early and make those [industry] connections early and understand a little bit more about if they were to become a professional dancer what exactly it would be like,” Ms Ireland said.

Prominent choreographers Thomas Bradley, Sarah Boulter and Michelle Forte all visited the school at different times for intensive sessions to replicate the experience of working in a full-time company and teach them original works.

It’s trying to bridge that gap so they can get that exposure early and make those [industry] connections early.

Emily Ireland

Student Madison Ballard, 15, said she became “serious” about becoming a professional when in year 7 and the school had really helped her with “life skills”.

“Through this company we’ve been exposed to very mindful dancing so more than just steps, but really thinking about the purpose behind what you’re dancing about and expressing deeper meaning behind the movement you’re creating,” Madison said.

Lauren Morgan, 15, said the experience has been phenomenal. The biggest thing she said she learnt was to not overly judge herself but “find the quirks” and watch herself grow.

WHSPA dance students perform "In Motion" on Thursday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

WHSPA dance students perform "In Motion" on Thursday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Meanwhile, practising for hours on end along with regular school work can become stressful but Lauren said she’s learnt to deal with that through her passion for the art.

“When  having a tough day it’s easy to get lost in what I’m doing on stage and off stage, even just warming up for a performance,” she said.

“You stop thinking about all your other problems and you immerse yourself in the feelings that connect with you and the dance.”

In Motion, WHSPA Performance Hall, Fairy Meadow, 6pm (public performance).

This story Young Illawarra dancers take a leap in the professional world first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.