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Escalate I mentoring project directed by


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Hikma danced for six years at Merici College under the tutelage of Laura Pearce. Hikma loves to dance and finds that it frees her mind. Escalate has provided her with the opportunity to work with other young people from different dance genres.

'Being in Escalate is a big opportunity for me, to me it's not only about dancing but it's about feeling the music within you and moving your body to the beat of the music. It's also what you bring and what you make of it and shows your personality through dancing and the emotions that you are feeling. I have learnt a lot from just dancing with different people who move different to the way I move and who dance different styles of dances. There is so much to dance that I know that I didn't know before and it's the best feeling. The experience of the intensives and mentoring has been extremely useful and I have learnt so much already it's something that I will take with me into my future as a dancer. Escalate has taught me a lot of things like using my facial expressions when I am dancing. I am hoping that Escalate will help me to become more positive about my dance career in the future'.


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Hayley is Co-Principal Dance Teacher/Choreographer at Cowra Ballet School and Artistic Director of Torsion Youth Choreographic Ensemble. She is 27 years old, and has had a passion for dancing since she was 3 years of age. Hayley began teaching when she was 15 and has never looked back. She studied a Bachelor of Dance Education at ACPE in Homebush, and a Diploma of Dance Teaching Studies through the RAD. Although she enjoys all styles of dance, her true passion for dance lies in contemporary dance. 

Originally, I applied for Escalate on a bit of a whim, not even sure if I even qualified for the project. I am so glad I did, because only days later, I was called with confirmation of my involvement in the project. Escalate has been a great experience. We have had the opportunity to work with choreographers we may not normally cross paths with, and collaborate with other like-minded people. This experience has been beneficial for me, and my development as a choreographer, but I feel it has been just as beneficial (if not more!) for my four dancers. In just a few short weeks of workshops and mentoring, they have grown as dancers, become more open-minded and have gained invaluable knowledge from expert choreographers and mentors. Escalate has been a wonderful experience for us, and we would like to thank Ausdance ACT for pulling it all together for us. 


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Mikayla began dancing and singing training at an early age and has been successfully competing at eisteddfods since she was four years old. She is a student with Kim Harvey School of Dance. Mikayla has appeared in local theatre productions and has represented the ACT and Australia in martial arts. Mikayla has a passion for choreography. She choreographed her first competition routine when she was eight and has subsequently choreographed pieces for the Ausdance ACT Youth Dance Festival and local musicals. She performs her own choreography at eisteddfods and has also choreographed solo routines for other dancers. 

'Escalate has given me the opportunity to choreograph a dance piece that is a little different and that highlights the strengths of my dancers. I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of Escalate. I have learnt so much from my mentors and met some amazing people. The other dancers involved in the project have been incredibly supportive and a lot of fun to be around. I would like to thank Ausdance ACT for this amazing opportunity and Kim Harvey School of Dance for supporting me and encouraging me to be part of Escalate.'


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Jacob is a 16-year-old dancer and student dance teacher and has been dancing since the age of 4. Jacob specialises in tap, urban and hip hop styles of dance. He is currently taking classes and teaching tap, Bboy and the junior boys hip hop crew at Bom Funk Dance Studio in Jerrabomberra. He is also a member of Erindale College, Canberra's Talented Dance Program. 
Jacob's love for choreography was discovered when he joined the choreography class at Calwell High School in 2014. As a part of this program he choreographed for Ausdance ACT’s Youth Dance Festival. He considers his major choreographic achievement to be the boy’s Dance Fest piece "the future of light" performed in 2015. Jacob is very excited to be a member of Escalate for 2017 and hopes to gain more choreographic knowledge from being involved. 

'Escalate for me is the building blocks between where I was and my future as a choreographer in the dance industry. 
The whole experience has been one crazy, fun and intense ride but I wouldn’t change it for anything. The whole piece came together around me wanting to explore some different urban styles and this program gave me the opportunity to do this. I began choreographing and put in my video and when I got the email to say that I had been accepted I was over the moon. I began working even harder straight away. We started with the mentor intensives in January which was so much fun to do especially exploring different dance styles that I hadn’t tried before and that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Working with my mentors Leena and Douglas has been amazing, I have learnt and grown so much as a dancer and especially as a choreographer. In my piece, I want my audience to feel entertained and inspired, I want to show people that trying something new can be a really positive experience and this is my way that I can show that.'


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Tapaita fell in love with hip hop and says she can't seem to stop thinking about dancing! She finds dance to be the only thing that truly satisfies and fulfils. Her soul feels alive when she is dancing. T has been in a few competitive hip hop crews and is a former member of Mercy from Dance Central Canberra. I'm a pretty shy and awkward but when it comes to performing, I'm a whole different person. But that type of fear usually holds me back from my full potential and going for opportunities. I am hoping Escalate will help me pull out the confidence to move out of my comfort zone and just grow not only physically in dance but mentally so I'm looking forward to growing with others and helping others with the same fear grow. 

'The piece we choreographed for our Escalate performance season really was made for the sake of having fun. So often we forget why we dance due to many reasons such as competition, fear or the pressure of just wanting to look like the best or the sexiest. Escalate has made us remember what it was that makes us want to dance. It's not always about perfection. We want our audience to vibe off our performances and inspire them to make them want to tap their feet at least and move their bodies.'


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Charlie is 19 years old and has been dancing at Sparkles Dance Studio for 15 years. Since the age of two she has studied all styles of classical and theatrical dance as well as cheerleading, gymnastics and singing. Charlie has also been a part of five local musical theatre productions and has been successful at many local, interstate and international dance and cheerleading competitions. Charlie has had a strong passion for choreography and enjoys choreographing lyrical and contemporary routines for herself and other students. 

'Being a part of Escalate has been an amazing experience for myself and my dancers. I have loved every part of Escalate and the mentors and other dancers that I have met along the way. It has been an honour to have Paul Knobloch as my mentor. I have enjoyed working with him and he has helped to extend my knowledge of choreography, teaching and my own dance training. Escalate has really helped me to gain more confidence within my choreography, my dancing and within myself. My dancers and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity that Ausdance ACT have given us as this program has been invaluable for our training. 

I have always been interested in creating my own choreography and found Escalate has helped improve my skills. I chose to do a contemporary piece because I am familiar and comfortable with and has a range of interpretations within the style. 
I selected a piece of music called Luminous by Max Richter with no lyrics so I could experiment more with the choreography, style and emotions within the piece and really explore and make it my own. My piece explores the bond between sisters and how they may fight and separate themselves from each other but they will always support and protect one another. “Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other.'


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Dance is the purest expression of joy. It is limitless and quenches the thirst of the soul. I have spent a major part of my life pursuing this art form - as a student, a teacher, and a choreographer. I started training in an Indian classical dance form, “Kuchipudi” from an early age of 8, and dedicated the next 15 years mastering the art, making it my lifestyle. I graduated with a Masters Degree in Performing Arts from the Sarojini Naidu School for Performing Arts at the University of Hyderabad. Through these years, I have been a prolific performer, averaging about 3-5 performances every month both within India and overseas. At present, I am an international student at ANU pursuing an MBA. 

'Escalate has provided me a platform to work with dancers from different parts of the world, it's an opportunity to learn and create movements and coordinate with my dancers, look after every aspect of the performance. As a Business Management student at the ANU, I could feel the real-life application of management skills through this platform. I can take back many learning experiences for a lifetime from the mentoring sessions by Liz Lea and Douglas Amar Amarfio, who have provided me with quality feedback and suggestions to improve my work. I thank all the Escalate team for providing me this opportunity.'

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