Star ascending: Energetiks talks with Chanel Cahill
Whoever coined the phrase 'good things come in small packages' would no doubt be more adamant than ever after watching Chanel Cahill on-stage. The petite Perth born dancer has an effortless knack for movement that makes you prone to wondering if talent really is predestined after all. The true reason for her current success though (whilst less prosaic), is a combination of practice, passion, and sheer perseverance that's been present since she was just three years old. Good work ethic and the usual dose of blood, sweat and tears are nothing new for dancers, but what makes Chanel somewhat of a rarity is her seemingly impartial command over so many diverse genres of dance. It's not often you meet someone who can transfix audiences in pointe shoes, and just as easily transition into urban or jazz with all the requisite panache, and then some.
2016 proved to be a pivotal year for Chanel when she was selected to join Marko Panzic's groundbreaking Dream Dance Company for their third exhilarating season, Enter the Vortex, giving her the chance to show local and international audiences the full scope of her abilities as both artist and performer. And if you haven't had the pleasure of catching Chanel on-stage yet, we're confident you'll only be seeing more and more of this fresh new talent.
E: How did your journey with dance begin?
C: My older sister introduced me to dance! I used to wait for her to finish class and meanwhile, to entertain myself, I would cartwheel wherever I could! At her first concert my mum says I was dancing away in the aisle the whole time rather than sitting in my seat so that’s when she decided to let me join the following year at the age of 3.
E: When did you realise it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
C: I think I always had a desire to dance for the rest of my life at an early age. Competitions definitely influenced me in wanting to make a career out of dance, as I just loved the feeling of performing to an audience in a theatre!
E: What part of dance do you find the most challenging, and the most rewarding?
C: I find the rehearsal periods challenging, as I like to put more of the hard work into rehearsing so that by the time it comes to performing, I’m not worrying too much about my stamina and can really focus on how I perform; I feel better doing so, knowing that I’ve got it all under control. The feeling I get after a performance that I’ve worked hard towards and manage to pull off to my satisfaction is what I find the most rewarding feeling.
E: What has been your favourite moment as a performer so far?
C: My favourite moment occurred this year when I was able to perform in Perth, (where I grew up) with the Dream Dance Company’s ‘Enter the Vortex’ show. It was such an overwhelming night for me, as it had been over a year since I moved from Perth to try and start a career in dance in Sydney. So to be able to perform in front of family and friends with a company that I had looked up to from when it first came about a couple of years ago was such a special moment for me to be proud of how far I had come within that time. Words can’t describe how I felt seeing the smiles on my parents' faces, and seeing my teachers from the audience after the show had finished and we were taking our bows. It was the greatest feeling; the best I’ve ever felt after performing, because it meant so much to me. I felt so grateful for dance to be a part of my life and for the absolute joys it has brought me.
E: What style of dance are you most passionate about?
C: I absolutely adore Lyrical, Contemporary and Jazz. I appreciate all styles of dance and I invest my time into learning as much as I can with the styles I’m not as confident with, as I try to be as versatile as I can. There are teachers I just love learning off regardless of whether it’s a style that I feel super comfortable with or not.
E: What was it like auditioning for the Dream Dance Company?
C: I was very excited to audition for the Dream, but especially for Sarah Boulter as I absolutely love her work and knew how great she is to work (she is such a lovely person)! The nerves really kicked in when I got through to the last round, which was showcasing our solos! To be in a room full of these dancers that you've looked up to over the years and be in the final round with them was so surreal to me! Everyone in that room was really supportive and the energy was incredible, I left the audition that night feeling so inspired and happy regardless of whether I’d be selected or not. When I found out I had been accepted into the Dream Dance Company, it was incredibly hard for me to contain my excitement as I checked my email while catching public transport home after class! It was the most exciting news to share with my family!
E: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
C: When I was younger I wanted to dance perfectly and execute each movement to create picture-perfect shapes. However one of my teacher’s, Raylene Lowson, taught me to dance like I am being filmed on video and continue moving through each movement with dynamics, rather than dancing to create a perfect still shot every time.
E: What’s something you can’t live without?
C: A nice shower. There’s nothing like a great shower after a hard day’s work in the studio! I guess food and water would be nice as well.
E: Describe yourself in three words:
C: 'Adventurous, motivated, fun.'
E: What do you think is the most important quality or characteristic to succeed as a dancer?
C: I think versatility is important and just being a genuinely friendly person who is supportive when others succeed too.
E: Is there something you’re looking forward to at the moment?
C: I’m looking forward to making future plans, I would love to travel a little next year, take class overseas and do auditions to gain experience.
E: What is something people might not know about you?
C: I enjoy photography. I love taking pictures and the process of editing them myself, learning how to do that off YouTube tutorials.
E: Have there been any challenges or injuries you’ve had to face as a dancer?
C: I have broken my arm twice as a kid - one of those times I still completed my ballet exam with a cast on! Apart from that I’ve just sprained my ankle on two occasions, so nothing major luckily.
E: How did you find the experience of shooting the Velocity campaign, and what do you like about the collection?
C: I had so much fun on this shoot! It was the first time I ever got to make use of a smoke bomb, which was pretty exciting! The Velocity collection is really unique in being perfect to wear for class or performance! It is very versatile and you can mix it with everyday wear for a more casual look! It was interesting to see the different looks we could make with it!
E: Describe your perfect day off:
C: My perfect day off consists of a sleep-in, burning some incense, having a tea and breakfast in bed, planning my week ahead, going out for lunch with friends, then heading to the beach to soak in the sun and cleanse myself. I still like to be productive on my days off without any stress of time constraints.
E: What helps to keep you motivated and working towards your goals?
C: Just knowing that it will all pay off in some way or another. I like to keep short-term goals as well as long-term goals so I continue to feel a sense of accomplishment everyday, which keeps me motivated to accomplish more.
E: What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?
C: Sneaking my own food into the cinema!
E: What makes you laugh?
C: Anything! I am the worst at holding it in! Even in inappropriate situations - I just can’t help it... it’s the sound of my laugh which makes it worse as well!
E: What final advice would you give to other young aspiring dancers?
C: Just embrace who you are as a dancer and don’t try to be anyone else. Definitely look up to others and learn from them, but be your true authentic self, because no one does it better than you.
Velocity Film Shot/Directed & Edited by Flukemedia
See the complete Velocity collection here.
Follow Chanel's journey here on instagram: @chanelcahill and see the Dream Dance Company's website here for tour dates to catch Chanel performing live in Enter the Vortex!
Interview and photography by Elly Ford.