Energetiks talks with Jesse Scales

Photography: Peter Greig

Photography: Peter Greig

This week we’re bringing you our interview with Jesse Scales, a talented 24 year old with the Sydney Dance Company, whose presence and versatility as a performer is as notable as her striking red hair!

Jesse was kind enough to take some time out of her hectic schedule (Sydney Dance Company’s rehearsals are in full swing as they prepare to tour nationally with CounterMove) and answered some questions about dance, life with SDC and what makes her laugh. Read on for more;


Photography: Peter Greig

Photography: Peter Greig

 E: Hi Jesse, thank you for talking with us! First of all, where and when did your dance journey begin?

Jesse: I was always dancing around the house from a young age and started taking ballet classes at age three, firstly at Sheila Laing Dance Centre in Adelaide, then at Terry Simpson Studios. When I was six years old I was given the opportunity to perform with the Australian Dance Theatre under the direction of Meryl Tankard. I opened their show 1998 and knew then that this was all I ever wanted to do. 


E: In what moments are you happiest as a dancer?

J: When I'm performing. Being able to allow your own moves, or help make another person's ideas come to life, and to then share that with audiences is something I cherish.  


E: Training in New Zealand (at the New Zealand School of Dance) and receiving the Adopteer een danser Scholarship enabled you to experiencing dance overseas when you were still very young, how was that different to the dance industry in Australia, - what did you enjoy and what did you find challenging being away from home?

J: I chose to audition for the New Zealand School of Dance because it allowed me to train in both classical and contemporary dance. I believe both are equally of value. However I did major in the classical stream as many of the companies I wished to audition for had a very strong classical technique. Fortunately I didn't find it at all challenging to live away from home. Dancers have this knack of being able to make friends very easily, especially as our careers can travel and move places. 



E: How do you feel about the audition process, do you enjoy or dread it, and what helps you prepare? 

J: Throughout my training, I was given many opportunities to take master classes with guest teachers. This has helped me pick up new choreography and apply direction quickly, which I have found to be an asset. Being prepared for an audition is key. I always researched who I was auditioning for, which gave me the confidence to throw myself into everything I was asked to do. Auditions will always be a little nerve wracking but I think that's a good thing. It’s just recognition that it means a lot to you, that you really want what ever it is you're auditioning for. Use those nerves to your advantage to make you energised and eager.

In rehearsal for Sydney Dance Company's Lux Tenebris.  Photography: Peter Greig

In rehearsal for Sydney Dance Company's Lux Tenebris.  Photography: Peter Greig

E: What hobbies and interests do you like to do in your spare time?

J: I have always enjoyed reading books and listening to music. Actually, you'll probably always find me with my headphones on! Anything outdoors is also great, like walks and picnics. 

E: Which artists have the biggest influence and inspiration on you as a dancer?

J: As a child and young adult I was exposed to all types of dance and other art mediums, through both live performance and also on TV! I paid attention to a wide range of choreographers, from Jiri Kylian to William Forsythe to Hofesh Shechter, seeking out documentaries that explained their different choreographic processes. I learned from an early age that there are many layers to dance. Hearing all of these different perspectives has helped me create my own ideas and to think outside the box. 

Jesse (middle) in Sydney Dance Company's Frame of Mind. Photography: Peter Greig

Jesse (middle) in Sydney Dance Company's Frame of Mind. Photography: Peter Greig

E: What are a few of your most enjoyable memories with Sydney Dance Company so far?

J: Honestly, there have been so many memorable moments. Dancing with Sydney Dance Company has given me the opportunity to travel and dance not only within Australia but also in amazing places overseas. Working with Rafael to develop our own style as a company, and also learning from so many amazing guest choreographers has been fantastic. But I would have to say my most enjoyable memory is still of my first performance. Those first moments onstage with an internationally renowned company, and with so many dancers that I had admired and followed for so long - it's a memory I won't ever forget. 

E: What are your aspirations for the future?

J: Ultimately, I wish to have a long career, to make the most of every opportunity I am given, and to exploit my versatility as a dancer as much as I can. 

E: Describe your relationship with the audience/stage:

J: The relationship does vary from show to show. I really love it when you can feel the audience joining you on the journey of the show. After all, for the most part, you're performing for them, so it's fantastic when you can hear them gasp at something they found exciting and feel their energy. 

E: What are the most valuable lessons that you’ve learned through your experiences in the dance industry so far?

J: So far it would be to let my mind and creativity change by way of different perspectives. When I challenge myself to take different paths intellectually, physically, and emotionally it is really illuminating. The best thing about dance is that there are always new lessons to be learned. 

Jesse featuring in Sydney Dance Company's Quintett. Photography: Peter Greig

Jesse featuring in Sydney Dance Company's Quintett. Photography: Peter Greig

E: How do you look after yourself physically and emotionally in order to stay at your peak?

J: I make sure I do Pilates daily to condition my body, and yoga is also great. Rest is very crucial as well, you need to have down time in order to let your body and mind heal and refresh. 

E: What makes you laugh?

J: The Umbilical Brothers. They're an Australian comedic act that pairs movement and timing with sound effects made by their own voices. To me it's genius and I find myself forever in stitches from laughter watching them. 

In rehearsal for Sydney Dance Company's Lux Tenebris. Photography: Peter Greig

In rehearsal for Sydney Dance Company's Lux Tenebris. Photography: Peter Greig

E: Do you enjoy class, performance, or rehearsals the most?

J: Definitely performance, but a close second would be rehearsals. It's great working with Rafael as he likes us to create a lot of our own movement. We work together as a unit. It's a very fulfilling time, being able to experiment a great deal. 

E: Finish this sentence - The key to success is;

J: I'm not sure there is only one key to success. More a culmination of things - self- discipline, creativity, open mindedness. I believe the way you approach success can make every step of the journey rewarding. Not putting a limit on your own success so that your journey is endless. 

Sydney Dance Company's Quintett. Photography: Peter Greig

Sydney Dance Company's Quintett. Photography: Peter Greig

E: And finally - Q: Do you have any advice for our readers who are aspiring dancers and performers?

J: Always aim to have an open and flexible mind. You can gain experience from so many different sources to build a large memory bank of emotions, smells, sounds, tastes, colours, which will all inevitably bring life to your creativity and performances. Let your life invade your dance. 


Jesse is appearing in Sydney Dance Company’s CounterMove, at Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay Sydney until March 12. The show then tours to Canberra and Melbourne in May and regional New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Darwin from June to August. Book now at: http://www.sydneydancecompany.com/productions/countermove/