Moving on up: Dance Graduate Matthew Unger
Matthew Unger left his native Calgary, Canada in 2006 to study Wesley Institute’s Bachelor of Dance degree. Three years of full-time dance later, he’s performed in dozens of shows throughout Sydney – including dancing with up-and-coming youth company youMove - choreographed and directed his own show Becoming and, of course, graduated. Now he’s headed back to Canada, but found time to share his experiences of finishing up higher education dance and the transition into the professional world.
How has the journey been for you as an international dance student at Wesley Institute?
Being an international student gives you a different perspective on life. When I first came, I felt I was where God wanted me to be, and I had enough money for the first semester, I said “God, if you want me to stay, you’ll have to come up with the goods.” And he did. The biggest highlight has been seeing the improvement in my dancing - the videos we’ve taken every year show a world of difference from the time I started. Another highlight has been forming close bonds with my lecturers. Dance is pretty personal, and because we all open up in class, they’re like friends. And of course, choreographing my show Becoming - check it out on YouTube!
What’s been happening lately?
I did a show with youMove in Parramatta, through my connections with another WI graduate, Sean Marcs. It raised my awareness of the difference between training and professional work – there’s no such thing as half out, it’s full out. If the energy drops and you’re tired, you just grab your drink and keep going! Developing a good work ethic is really important. I’ve also been teaching dance classes in a dance studio in Ashfield.
So what are your plans when you leave Australia?
I’ve been invited to attend Dance Ad Deum’s Spring Dance Intensive, which also serves as an audition into the company. It’s basically a week of dance with people from all over the world, learning some company repertoire as well as doing jazz, contemporary and ballet class. Ideally I’ll get to talk with [artistic director] Randall [Flinn]. It’s a chance to step outside ofmy comfort zone and get some experience with different teachers – experience the same styles done with a different flavour. I’ll be seen, hear what’s around, gain contacts.
Wow, how did you get that gig?
In our industry placement class at Wesley Institute, they told us “Put as many lines out as you can, eventually you will catch something”. So I sent out my CV, headshot and two dance pictures, and Ad Deum was the one to email me, inviting me to the intensive. Ideally I’ll get into the company on a year’s contract, but it’s also a good opportunity to meet other dancers and Randall Flinn.
Congratulations, Matt, on the invitation to workshop and audition – all the best!