Kelly Aykers Headshot b&w.jpg

You’ve had an amazing career, what made you want to open your own studio?

“Thank you, I have indeed been fortunate. Having said that, I have worked really hard to build that career and now that I have opened my own school the workload just keeps coming! I wouldn’t have it any other way of course as hard work is just a necessary part staying active in the industry.

Years ago, while I was choreographing for TV and mainstream musicals (that hasn’t changed), I continued teaching and even established dance schools for other people. Over the years, I began to get disenchanted with many aspects of training and felt that, not only had there been a shift away from highly technical training but that there was also an ethical and a lot of dancers were lacking any meaningful support. So, as is my way, I decided to do something about it - hence the beginning of Kelly Aykers Full Time Dance and Kelly Aykers Casual Dance. Not only do I know as well as anybody what is required for a career in dance, but by opening my own school, I could usher in a new generation of performers that had that technical knowledge and skill set as a base and could then contribute to the same industry that had been so good to me. I am fortunate that our faculty, most of whom remain very active in the industry also, share the same beliefs and are dedicated to providing training on an extremely professional level.“

What do you think Kelly Aykers Full Time Dance has to offer?

“There is so much that we aim to provide that I am going to cop out and put these in point form so I don’t take up too much space! We pride ourselves on delivering:

·       The dancer’s self confidence and belief

·       The self-management skills required to sustain a career in the industry.

·       Drive and dedication through encouragement and opportunity.

·       Real relationships and training with real industry choreographers ALL year round.

·       Technique, placement and strength.

·       Invaluable experience and opportunities during training through my own industry contacts.

·       A grounded and safe environment where respect is key.

·       Real skills and experience to prepare dancers for any audition situation.”

What do you look for in potential applicants?

“The first thing I look for is an open energy and a willingness to take direction. The training from all my teachers will take care of any needs the students require to reach a professional level in dance or musical theatre so it is not so important that they blow me away with their talent right away but they do need to show me they are prepared to work for it. That puts me in a position to make the dream real for anybody and that is prepared to show enough dedication to their training.”

What kind of professional work can graduates expect to do after leaving KAFTD?

“In the five years I have been running Kelly Aykers Full Time Dance, our graduates have enjoyed a wide range of success. We have graduates in lead roles for new dance works being created here in Melbourne. We have eleven students currently in companies and two mainstream choreographers in high demand. We have graduates performing in shows in Tokyo, Paris and Asia, as well as on cruise ships across the world. Some students are now first time entrepreneurs running competitions and production companies, that employ dancers throughout Victoria. Equally important, maybe more so, are the scores of graduates that are now teaching in the VET system and in dance schools around the country that are providing the next generation of dancers with that same attention to technique and wellbeing that they received here with us.”

Deborah Searle