This month we are featuring two incredibly talented dancers Lauren (14) and Evie (12) who are also sisters! We interviewed Lauren and Evie on how they have found training together at home, what they are most looking forward to when they return to the studio and what is it really like to compete against your own sister at competitions.
Lauren and Evie train in ballet and contemporary at Mosman Dance Academy. They are guest associates with Queensland Ballet Academy, and Lauren was an associate of the Australian Ballet School for 5 years.
This year Lauren won the Encouragement award for Contemporary Dance at the inaugural Australian Classical Challenge. In 2019 she was the winner of the Ryde Eisteddfod Senior ballet scholarship and was invited to compete in the finals of the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong. She has been a finalist in NSW RAD Halliday awards and as a soloist at Sydney Eisteddfod in ballet and contemporary dance.
Evie has been a finalist for 3 out of the past 4 years at the NSW RAD Halliday/Isobel Anderson awards and was a finalist in 12 years Ballet solos at Sydney Eisteddfod last year.
Outside of dance, they pursue their other passion – music. They both play the piano and they belong to their school’s symphony orchestra, with Evie as the first oboe and Lauren on percussion. Lauren is also the drummer in the school’s rock band!!1. How are you both coping with dancing at home? What has worked well and what has been challenging?
Dancing at home has worked out better than we had expected. Online classes have been very well organised and we can still achieve the same level of focus at home as onsite classes.
Lauren: Online classes have allowed me to work on not being so dependent on mirrors in the studio to correct my technique. I can focus more on the physical feeling of muscle activation and not having to check visually what I am doing. To know that your technique is correct without visual confirmation and being independent from the mirror is an important skill to have because there are no mirrors on stage for a dancer to use during performances.
Evie: Dancing at home is a big change to being in the studio, mainly because of the limited space we have to work with and not having any friends to talk to. It can be challenging because sometimes the Wifi drops out and then we can’t do class, which wouldn’t be a problem in the studio. But dancing online has helped me to think more for myself in open classes because there is no one around that you can copy.
2. What are your ISO dancing goals?
Lauren: I have been working hard on working in a small space and containing dances within the area I have. Dancing in my living room has been great training in adaptation to small stages. During isolation, I have also been working on the side profile, rotation and alignment of my legs because I have been dancing on those kinds of angles towards the camera for online classes. It has been interesting working on different angles and alignments compared to what the teachers usually see in the studio
3. How do you warm up at home?
Lauren: As the weather is getting colder now, it is especially important to warm up properly before class, whether you’re at home or in the studio. I like to focus on warming up my feet and ankles, because I need strong support en pointe. Slow tendus with emphasis on articulation is very effective in activating my metatarsals. My dboots really help in warming up my toes – they are so insulative and make warming up very efficient. Once my feet feel warmer, a series of sautés and échappé sautés wakes up the rest of my legs. I also like to loosen up my hips before class, carefully rolling each of them around in a hitched position.
Evie: My toes are always cold and stiff before class, so it is important for me to warm them up so that I don’t hurt anything. If we have pointe class, I put my pointe shoes on and do some rises to help wake up my metatarsals. Otherwise I put on my demi pointes and practise my demi pointe devant, à la seconde and derrière.
4. What are you most looking forward to when you return to the studio?
We look forward to freely dancing in the open space of the studio again. Returning to the studio means that we have a lot more space to dance in with proper flooring as well, and we can finally see our friends again face to face.
5. Do you ever compete against each other at Eisteddfods? How do you cope with that?
Lauren: We do occasionally compete against each other in the same section at eisteddfods. We are very supportive of each other and enjoy watching each other’s performances.
Evie: It is a bit daunting competing against dancers who are older than me and have more experience, but I like that it’s a challenge and it gets me to push myself.
6. How do you feel when watching your sister dance?
Lauren: Whenever I watch Evie dance, I always feel so proud to be her sister. She is constantly impressing me with what she can do, and I could watch her all day. Her hard work pays off and she can light up a stage with her charming smile so effortlessly. Of course, the constructive older sister in me is always searching for something to correct and advise her on, but I’m sure that she can do much better than what I could do at her age!
Evie: I love watching Lauren dance because she is so talented and hard-working. I aspire to be able to dance as well as she does, being able to pull off impressive choreography while making it look effortless and easy. She is also a great teacher who helps me practise for competitions and gives me constructive criticism to help me improve. I am so grateful to have someone who can watch out for me and advise me on how to improve my technique.
7. Lastly, if you could dance with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Lauren: If I could dance with someone for a day, I would dance with Ako Kondo (principal artist of the Australian Ballet). She has incredibly strong technique and stage presence and she makes her dancing look so effortless and controlled
Thank you both so much for sharing your insightful Covid-19 dancing experiences. We wish you all the best for your return to the studio and hopefully you can both show off all of your hard work at some competitions later this year!