Maeve Nolan | 20 | Ballet and Contemporary Dancer

Black and white portrait of ballet and contemporary dancer Maeve Nolan, in a ballet pose wearing black tights and Dr Martins boots.

Speciality time: Started dance at age 6

Inspiration for starting: I was always dancing around the house to my mum and dad’s music, my sister danced too so it was only natural that I started as well. I started with jazz and hated it, so my mum went to take me out but the teacher insisted I stay and perhaps try ballet, and I feel in love.

Full time, part time or hobby: Full time

What’s your biggest claim to fame to date?
I have many, but the one that stands out is from when I was 16, and I competed in The Genee International ballet competition, held in Sydney that year, and took home the gold medal. My favourite part about that whole experience was the chance to perform on the Opera House stage, it was really magical that night!

Can you share your training journey?
I started at a local school on the Northern Beaches, called Dance North Academy. I then went to Tanya Pearson’s under the direction of Ms Lucinda Dunn OAM, in full time training when I was 14, and then from there I travelled to London and trained at the English National Ballet School when I was 16. When I graduated I then started my career in English National Ballet Company.

Most proud accomplishment to date?
To be honest, I am proud of myself for getting to where I am today. It might sound strange but training to become a professional dancer and maintain peak condition is hard. It is the equivalent for training for the Olympics and is very demanding physically and mentally. I am proud of the fact that I am still dancing, and still loving it.

What’s been the most memorable moment for you?
I travelled to New York with a few of my friends and teachers from school, (English National Ballet School) and performed at David H. Koch Theatre. The stage was amazing and I enjoyed sharing it with my friends. It was relatively close to our graduation and it was one of the last times we would share the stage together, so it was really special.

How has COVID-19 affected your ability to do your craft?
I was in London at the time, the news of COVID-19 started circulating. The company I was with, was in the process of choreographing a new production and opening night was looming. We were unable to finish the choreographic process or perform it as we were not allowed to dance in a studio or theatre.

When lockdown was first announced, did you have to cancel performances?
I remember exactly where I was when the news broke about London going into lockdown. We were in the middle of a rehearsal when our director came in to tell us what would be happening. It was scary and confusing because it was all unknown to us and at that point we didn’t realise how long we would be away from the studio, let alone theatre. Our upcoming productions were cancelled and we stayed home for months, not stepping foot in a studio.

How do you feel not being able to perform/participate because of COVID-19?
It was hard, because for so many years I spent nearly every day in a studio or theatre. There was always something to work towards and I felt really lost when it was all suddenly halted.

What do you think will happen to society as a whole, if the general public can’t access the arts - either to practice or to enjoy watching?
Without the arts we will suffer in some shape, way or form. The many forms of art, encompass and follow us through daily life so without even knowing it we are constantly affected by art, no matter what form we come into contact with. Art is a form of self expression and communication, it honours traditions but also knocks down barriers and traps we have fallen into as a society and to be honest, life would be quite dull without it.

What are some positives that you’ve experienced during lockdown?
I was always on the go and never at home before, so it was nice to be able to have the time to reconnect with myself and my friends and family. I was living close to a park at the time so when we were able to go outside for a walk, I found that I really enjoyed walking through it and being in nature again.

If you could ask politicians to consider one thing about the future of performing arts, what would that be?
To have faith in us and give us more funding. The Australian arts community is incredibly undervalued and deemed unimportant when in reality it creates a big economic impact on Australia.

If you could ask fellow Australians to do one thing about the way they support/consume performing arts, what would that be?
To be open-minded and support us. Come to shows, listen to different music, go to art exhibitions and you might just find you connect with it and enjoy it.

What improvements would you like to see made to the arts sector?
More funding and opportunities for Australian artists in Australia.

What are the greatest challenges facing Australian performing artists?
Australian performing artists should be given more credit then they do, we live in a society that has a very big focus on other aspects of entertainment, however when it comes to dance we lack the support we need.

Have you worked with anyone famous yet?
I have worked with many famous artists within the arts community, more specifically in ballet and every single artist is always humble and hard-working, which is truly inspiring.

What do you hope for future generations of performing artists?
I hope the future generations of performing artists feel supported and have more opportunities within Australia.

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