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Canberra Today 1°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Jess dances her way to Miami… and further

Jess Haynes, off to Miami
AN inspiring young Canberra-raised dancer is about to be catapulted into a professional career with the Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, the second largest cruise operation in the world.

A recent graduate in classical ballet from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where she received the 2017 Finley Award for Dance, 21-year-old Jessica Haynes is enjoying a well-earned break with her family in Curtin before heading for the US on March 31.

There, she told “CityNews,” she will undertake a gruelling six-week introduction to a new regime of dance, before being assigned to one of the company’s 26 cruise ships, on an initial six month contract.

Happily, the ship, which will travel to Alaska and Canada then later Hawaii and Sydney, leaving on May 25, has already been named and she will be on board with a classmate from WAAPA, the only other Australian to make it through the Sydney auditions. All the other dancers, she thinks, are Americans.

The level of technical accomplishment required by the hiring company was daunting and only eight of the 80 to 90 dancers auditioned were shortlisted, but, she says, the people were “so lovely”.

Jess Haynes in classical mode
“CityNews” was tipped off by her former teacher at the Dance Development Centre in Canberra, Jackie Hallahan, who described her as “a lovely girl [who] has worked hard to achieve it”.

While studying dance with Hallahan from Years 9 to 12, Haynes left Daramalan College at lunchtime each day to take dance classes that amounted to 30 hours a week.

“I was very lucky, they were very understanding at Daramalan,” she says, “kids these days have to do it by distance education.”

She was equally lucky at WAAPA. When about to graduate, Haynes told the head of classical dance, Kim McCarthy that she didn’t know if she wanted to go on dancing. McCarthy advised her that it was a good offer, and that there were only one of four students among 30 to be offered full-time work. “He said working on a cruise line would be a great way to travel, have fun and save money.”

And, McCarthy told her, “dance is now, you have to do it now”.

Now, refreshed, she believes many dancers stop too early. But if and when she does stop, she has a plan. “I can go back to uni, I already have a BA and I could do occupational therapy… I enjoy the other side of life, not just dance.”

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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