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Amelia Drummond, recipient of the 2019 Emerging Female Choreographer Initiative residency.

Canberra dancer wins female choreographic residency

Sydney Opera House, The Australian Ballet and Dance Australia join forces to bring women to centre stage

Sydney Opera House

Ballet has taken Amelia Drummond from her home in the bush capital of Canberra to the elite schools of Germany. Last night, after the Australian Ballet’s performance of Verve on the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre, she was announced as the recipient of the Emerging Female Choreographer Initiative.

The 23-year-old dancer has been training since the age of nine. She graduated with a Diploma in Dance at the Australian Conservatoire of ballet in Melbourne, then at the age of 16 moved to Germany to study at the Staatsliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Akademie des Tanzes Mannheim, where she began to develop her choreography. Currently, she still dances in Germany with the Badisches Staatsballett Karlsruhe.

The Initiative, a collaboration between the Sydney Opera House, The Australian Ballet and Dance Australia, awards a residency at the Opera House to an upcoming female choreographer and supports them in creating a work for The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque program in October 2019.

“Securing professional opportunity and enough resources to develop and sustain a choreographic practice, is often the hardest challenge for any artist,” said Olivia Ansell, the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Performance.

“This initiative is a much-needed opportunity for female choreographers working in the classical genre to have their work platformed, to work with the incredible dancers of The Australian Ballet, and to have their profile lifted, which may lead to further commissions,” said Natalie Weir, former resident choreographer at the Ballet.

“Opportunities to choreograph for ballet companies are very rare; I hope this is an initiative that continues into the future.”

The announcement took place last night after the Australian Ballet’s triple bill performance Verve, featuring contemporary Australian works by Alice Topp (Aurum), Stephen Baynes (Constant Variants) and Tim Harbour (Filigree and Shadow). A pop-up showing of Fraying, by company dancer Mason Lovegrove, was also presented following the show.

Drummond was one of more than 40 entries. Each was assessed by a knowledgeable panel of judges: The Australian Ballet’s artistic associate and principal coach, Fiona Tonkin; Olivia Ansell; and the former Artistic Director of Expressions Dance Company, Natalie Weir, alongside Dance Australia critics Margaret Mercer (WA), Geraldine Higginson (NSW), Susan Bendall (VIC) and co-editor Karen van Ulzen.

Alice Topp, resident choreographer with The Australian Ballet. Image: Kate Longley
Alice Topp's Aurum, as part of The Australian Ballet 'Verve'. Image: Jeff Busby


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