Q&A: Student Choreographer

Tue 1, 2023
  • Q&A,
  • Ballet
Written by Cassandra Houghton
Q&A: Student Choreographer

Q&A with Level 3 dancer and student chorographer, Elijah-Jade

Amidst an enthralling program of classical and contemporary music and dance, the sights and sounds of Burralga – a student choreographic work by Level 3 student Elijah-Jade with a sublime score by the late David Page (former Bangarra Dance Theatre Music Director) promises to complement the repertoire in the upcoming Queensland Ballet Academy Gala. A proud descendent of the Mununjali (Beaudesert) and Guugu Yimithirr (Hope Vale) Peoples, Elijah-Jade sat down with us to share insight into her new First Nations inspired piece.

How long have you been at Queensland Ballet Academy?

I started at the Academy in the Associate Program in 2020, and the following year I was lucky enough to be accepted into the full-time program. I’ve been dancing since I was three-years-old though. I originally lived in Cairns for seven years, then moved to Brisbane and studied at the Queensland Performance Academy at Woolloongabba before coming to Kelvin Grove for the Dance Excellence Program and finally, Queensland Ballet Academy.

What do you love about dancing?

I love the feeling. It feels like a safe space to me. I also love the experience of trying new things, and the challenges that come with that.

Do you come from a family of dancers?

From my mum’s side, Stephen Page (AO, former artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, and descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland), and Russell Page (former acclaimed Principal Artist of Bangarra Dance Theatre and descendant of the Nunukul (Noonuccal) people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation of South East Queensland).

In 2021, I had the opportunity to join Bangarra Dance Theatre for class before one of their performances – it was wonderful to have the chance to learn and develop from this group of immensely talented artists.

What will you be performing in the Queensland Ballet Academy Gala this year?

I’m in Tchaikovsky Suite by Paul Boyd (Ballet Master and Resident Choreographer); then the Level 3 contemporary work Toil by Louise Deleur (Head of Contemporary Dance and Resident Choreographer), followed by my contemporary solo Burrulga, and the Grand Défilé with the entire Academy cohort.

Tell us about your choreographic solo, Burralga and the inspiration behind it.

The theme for this year’s choreography was ‘nature’, so I chose to choreograph a piece called Burralga, which means Brolga in Mununjali language. I wanted to do something that relates to my culture and heritage. A brolga represents creativity and self-expression – especially in dance, so I’ve tried to use that as a symbol. It’s very fluid, yet grounded. The music is called Brolga, which is an excerpt composed by late Uncle David Page.

Is this the first solo you have worked on?

Yes. We’ve done trio and duo work in our course, but this is a first. The teachers have been a great support!

Any hobbies or passions outside of ballet?

I was recently in a film called We Are Still Here, which is currently on Netflix. The casting team was looking for a dancer, so I applied and I got the spot. It was filmed here in Brisbane, and was such a fun experience.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

This Gala is probably the biggest highlight of the year. Apart from that, I’m just really enjoying my time at the Academy. I love working with the teachers, I’ve created amazing friendships. It has been a really good journey.

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