Alumni Feature: Kassidy Waters - 17.04.18

2016 NAISDA Graduate, Kassidy Waters, is a proud Aboriginal Wanaruah Woman from the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

After graduating from NAISDA, Kassidy continued her professional development by undertaking the Pre-Professional Program at Sydney Dance Company and has since been freelancing as an independent artist – an experience which has seen her travel around Australia and the world.

We caught up with Kassidy to find out about life after NAISDA. Here’s what she had to say.

Photo by Pedro Greig

When did you attend NAISDA?

I attended NAISDA for four years from 2013 to 2016.

What was your most memorable experience when studying at NAISDA?

It’s hard to pick just one – I have a few! Something that you definitely don’t forget is the Cultural Residency. Our Remote Cultural Residency to Moa Island was a highlight.

But also, I’d have to say working with the staff and the teachers and learning from them. They became a part of my NAISDA family.

How do you think NAISDA has helped you grow as an artist?

Because members of NAISDA’s teaching staff are involved in the dance industry, I found their experience and advice to be really helpful. They helped us look for the possibilities and encouraged us to look out for opportunities and to go for them.

They made us identify the types of companies, artists and organisations we wanted to work with and then gave us the advice and feedback we needed to work toward our goals. Another important thing they did was prepare us for the realisation that the industry is quite challenging.

‘Gili’ performed by Jannawi Dance Clan

Tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing since graduating

After graduating from NAISDA I started another full year of study as part of Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year, which I completed in 2017. So, this year has really been my first year in the independent professional world since finishing full-time training.

At the beginning of the year, I did a  choreographic residency with Catapult Dance with Craig Bary and Dale Collier. I also performed at Rainbow Serpent Festival with Jannawi Dance Clan and had the opportunity to travel to Porirua, New Zealand with Jo Clancy and the Dhurangaan Dancers to perform as part of Waitangi Day celebrations with Blacktown City Council.

After receiving the Joanne Harris Scholarship Fund Pre-Professional Support – NAISDA Graduate Scholarship last year through NAISDA, I am in the process also to be commencing a course to become a certified Romana’s Pilates instructor, which is an internationally recognised certification.

Most recently, I started working with Jie Pittman who delivers a program to schools throughout Western Sydney called the Liven Deadly Program The program aims to educate Indigenous students about language, dance and song and it’s been an amazing initiative to be involved in.

In the next couple of months I have some exciting work with Erth Visual and Physical Inc. and with Karul Projects by Thomas E.S. Kelly. In October, I have a two-week choreographic residency with DirtyFeet. I’ll be working in the studio with participants to create and play with my ideas over this time which I hope will lead to a creation of a work.

What’s been the hardest part of that journey?

For me, the hardest part is that I still want to be learning and exploring all the time, so it’s a matter of trying to keep up my practice while trying to earn an income. I’ve also had to focus on creating my own routine after five years of full-time study, it can be difficult with so much changing all the time.

Have you discovered anything about yourself or about the industry that surprised you?

I’ve been very well-prepared coming from NAISDA and also Sydney Dance Company. Things weren’t such a shock as I was exposed to quite a lot of things during my time with both organisations.

My first few auditions were quite nerve racking, but I’ve learnt that if you don’t get auditions, you treat it as a learning experience. I’ve learnt that if you are willing to do something, you’ll find a way to do it.

To me, it’s really about what dance is giving to me and others. Creating the bigger picture, that this expression is not just about you.

Porirua Waitangi Day Celebrations Blacktown City Council Group

What’s next for you?

Over the next couple of years, I’d like to be in the process of making a solo work for myself. To keep learning and experiencing art from different artists and companies and continue strengthening my practice and what I want to share throughout it as well as sharing what others have to say.

I’d also like to go overseas and experience other cultures and Indigenous Peoples of the world cultural dance first hand.

Finally, what advice might you give a young person thinking of a career in dance?

I think it’s important to find out what you love and don’t love about it and embrace both sides. Because dance can be hard and, it can also be super challenging both for your body, mind and you as a person.

But if you learn to appreciate the challenge, it will make the good parts even better.