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MacKillop dancers harness their star power

YEAR 10 dance students at MacKillop Catholic College have taken an important leap toward a future in the performing arts industry after participating in the ‘stART Your Future’ arts program.

The program is devised and delivered at Industrie Performing Arts dance studio in Bellerive by Josef Brown, who is an internationally acclaimed dancer and actor with a career spanning decades.

He was a series regular in ‘Neighbours’ (Matt Turner), ‘Dance Academy’ (Patrick), and ‘Home and Away’ (Dale), as well as wrote and produced documentaries, webisodes and television shows.

This is in addition to Mr Brown’s extensive dance career, most notably as Johnny Castle in ‘Dirty Dancing’, Charlie Redding in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’, a soloist in The Australian Ballet and a member of Sydney Dance Company under Graham Murphy’s tutelage.

Through stART Your Future, he is sharing his knowledge, experience and passion with high school students – and MacKillop Catholic College is the first out of the blocks.

Mr Brown said the workshop worked to build confidence in students, using their love of dance and drama to stretch and challenge them to work collaboratively, think critically, and engage creatively through a range of tasks.

He said it also provided fundamental information about the dancer’s and actor’s tool of trade – their body.

The program saw the MacKillop’s students learn how to move safely when dancing, experiment with creating movement that “solved problems” and develop characters in a drama script.

They were highly engaged in every activity and learnt much about themselves and their peers.

During a question-and-answer session, Mr Brown opened up about his career, his favourite performances, his advice for entering the performing arts industry and generally about how to be the best and most authentic person you can be.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to ask all the burning questions aspirational young performers rarely get to ask of industry professionals.

“The workshop can take students – and sometimes teachers – outside their comfort zones,” Mr Brown said.

“Yet if it did, MacKillop dance teacher Megan Hardy and the students barely flinched.

“They appeared to relish and revel in the challenges, meeting every opportunity with a positive energy and openness that was inspiring to watch and engage with as a facilitator.”

Mr Brown said stART Your Future could be a regular part of the developing dance program at MacKillop Catholic College, and even incorporate drama.

Industrie Performing Arts engaged Josef Brown for a similar program with their dancers last year, and the studio’s co-director Samantha Reason said she knew that MacKillop students would get just as much out of the day as her dancers did.

“Co-director Nicole Rosson and I are passionate about giving back to our community through our diverse skill set acquired from our lives of dance and performance,” she said.

“We love MacKillop’s values and ethos and see the partnership as a purposeful and beautiful fit.”

MacKillop Dance students were thrust into the spotlight early on in the school year, performing and livestreaming their new routines in contemporary dance, hip-hop and jazz at Franklin Wharf in Hobart for cruise ship passengers.

They are now looking forward to performing at World Games Day at Kangaroo Bay on 30 June, as well as the college’s annual arts showcase ‘FUSION’ at the Salamanca Arts Centre in November.

For more information about stART Your Future, visit www.josefbrown.com.au.

Caption: MacKillop Catholic College year 10 dance students.