By Rain Francis.
Ajkun Ballet Theatre is a groundbreaking company which creates a wealth of opportunities for dancers around the world. Co-directed by Dr Chiara and Leonard Ajkun, this unique company has created a reputation as one of America’s most dynamic and innovative dance organizations. At the conclusion of Ajkun’s tenth anniversary season, dancer Brittany Larrimer visited Australia to broaden the horizons of Australia’s young performers.
Since opening its doors in 2000, Ajkun Ballet Theatre has expanded to performing 48 weeks in a year. Through their Partners in Dance program, they have relationships with over 100 companies worldwide. They provide young dancers with the chance to complete their training in a professional environment, as well as performance experience in New York and Italy. “It’s a stepping stone for them to be introduced to other companies that we have a partnership with,” says Brittany. “Directors are able to see them in a more personal light, and to speak with our directors who have experience working with them, to help them find work in the US in a place that suits them best”.
Last month, on Brittany’s third visit to Australia, she took classes and workshops at various dance schools, preparing students for Ajkun’s open auditions which followed.
Canberra Dance Development Centre was lucky enough to host Brittany for a week. There she worked with the students on the Bluebird pas de deux and variations, and was impressed with the level of commitment: “It was really inspiring watching them do their performance of [Bluebird], to see how much they grew just from Monday – it was incredible”.
In fact, Brittany has found the level of training in Australia to be exceptional. “From the first year I was here, I was really flawed at how technically strong the dancers are. They have really clean technique, in all the cities that I’ve visited”.
She’s been helping prepare hopefuls for auditions for some of the fantastic summer training programs Ajkun Ballet Theatre offer in New York and Europe.
Performing in New York is a four-week intensive held annually in July and August. Successful auditionees aged 14 and up have the chance to work alongside the company, and to experience life on tour. It’s an invaluable insight into the life of a professional, and a huge advantage for those looking for a career in dance.
Ajkun also offer a two week annual Dance in Italy program, as well as several workshops for younger children throughout the year.
“For me, it’s really rewarding to come here and give a little bit more exposure to what kind of opportunities there are in the States and to be able to offer some of the young dancers the chance to come and experience that”, says Brittany.
I ask her what she’s been on the lookout for, and what makes a great dancer. “Artistry definitely outweighs technique. Obviously to be technically excellent is necessary but what I truly enjoying watching and what I strive for in myself is to be really deeply involved with the character that I’m portraying. We’ve come so far in technique, and the things that are possible for people to do on stage and it’s one of the most exciting things about the art form. There are no limits, we can just keep pushing ourselves more and more and amaze the audience even more. But really bringing artistry to whatever it is that you’re dancing, that’s the most important thing”.
For more information about Ajkun Ballet Theatre visit www.ajkunbt.org
See Britrany in action with Ajkun Ballet Theatre
Photos by Rachel Neville. Top photo: Brittany Larrimer and Leonard Ajkun.
Published by www.danceinforma.com