JASMIN Durham’s been dancing since she was three years old, when she joined the Lisa Clark School of Ballet.
It wasn’t until she was 13 that she realised she wanted to become a professional dancer when, in 2006, she saw The Dancers Company performing in Canberra.
The MacKillop College schoolgirl was entranced by the applause given to local dancers who had gone on to the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne, and she wanted more of the same.
“The audience was so enthusiastic,” she says. So she started working really hard at her dance and, at age 16, she won a place at the ballet school.
Soon we’ll see Durham performing the seductive “Street Dancer” role in the ballet version of “Don Quixote”, brought here by 31 performers in the same Dancers Company.
Meantime, in the first part of the season, she’s playing the Dryad Queen. Both are completely different parts, both involve very demanding technique and both are top, professional roles, she told me.
“These are roles done by principals, after this I won’t be able to do them for another 10 years.”
For the past 15 years, Durham has been obsessed with technique. No longer. “I’ve learnt so much about professional dancing from this tour,” she says, adding that now performance is of the essence and she’s performing 23 shows to audiences in the ACT, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria under a completely different kind of pressure. To her, “there’s no better way”.
So, heading for graduation, how will she make sure she gets noticed? Well, this year she is in a class of six girls all training intensively. The result will be a place in the Australian Ballet School or a rigorous round of auditions in Europe or the US. “Whatever will be, will be,” Durham says.
Durham is thrilled to be performing in “Don Quixote”, which she describes as “very colourful and vibrant”. She loves the energy and the variety in the ballet, originally adapted from a novel based on Cervantes’ famous work.
And who knows? She may find herself leading another young aspirant to the ballet school. While here, they’ll be doing master classes for young Canberra dancers and showing them the way.
“Don Quixote”, Canberra Theatre, August 16-17. Bookings 6257 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au