Like other artists, Australian ballet dancers have watched their work come and go over the past year and a half due to the pandemic, and many still find themselves waiting anxiously for lockdown restrictions to end so they can return to the stage. But in a piece of positive news, West Australian Ballet has just announced that it has created seven new full-time positions.

West Australian Ballet’s seven new 2022 corps de ballet members. Photo © Frances Andrijich

With WA currently free of community transmission of the virus, WAB has recently performed productions of Coppélia, Dracula and the triple bill State – but increasing the size of its company by seven dancers is still a bold, brave move at the best of times, let alone in the face of the ongoing shadow of COVID-19.

With the support of the WAB Board of Directors, the seven Young Artists for 2021 – former WAAPA students Brent Carson, Madeline Gill, Beatrice Manser and Sarah Ross, and graduates of The Australian Ballet School Ziggy Debrincat, Rab Flanigan and Izaak Westhead – have been offered a full-time positions in the corps de ballet for 2022. Seven new Young Artists will also join the Company in 2022.

Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella believes that this ambitious investment in Australian talent was necessary in order to create more opportunity for a generation of dancers whose careers could otherwise be adversely impacted by the pandemic.

“This confident action by our Company underlines the responsibility we have as a leader in the Australian arts community. This decision provides security to the next generation of graduates, it builds our Australian dance industry and makes it clear that arts are essential to our lives,” said Scannella.

“To see Australian talent disappear due to the pandemic would be a tragedy. It has long been my goal to increase the size of West Australian Ballet and the time to start this mission is now to create a brighter future for our Company and for the arts.”

Scannella said that increasing the size of the company will support the health and wellbeing of the dancers. “It also enables us to consider new artistic opportunities of size and scale that has not been previously possible. This will help us connect to new audiences around Australia and the world.”

“Receiving a dancer contract is incredibly challenging around the world at this time. A lot of companies are still not performing, and many dancers are sadly moving on to other things. Our current Young Artists are immensely talented and have bright futures. I couldn’t risk them going into an environment with so few opportunities.”

The Board supported Scannella’s plan to expand the Company following the success of its Endowment Fund and its continued box office growth. However, in order to retain a company of this size, WAB said that it will require ongoing support from Government, corporate partners and private donors.

West Australian Ballet recently launched its Pas de Deux program, which invites corporate partners, private donors and Government to partner with the Company by supporting individual dancer’s positions.

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