Joshua Green. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Joshua Green, winner of the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship sponsored by The Guillermo Keys-Arenas Dance Trust, talks to Sydney Eisteddfod about how he got into ballet and the struggles of being a male dancer, a theme he chose to focus on in his free variation. He also shares some really inspiring advice for other dancers, including the importance of having a team for support as a dancer.
What inspired your passion for ballet?
Before ballet I was heavily involved with musical theatre. I loved the expression and the storytelling aspect of it and the ability I had to tell a story and show emotion on the stage. I think the fact that ballet and musical theatre have these things in common inspired my passion for ballet. I'd also say my teachers were one of my original inspirations for my passion. They are so passionate about their work and it rubbed off on me.
Who inspired you to start ballet?
In 2016 I was preparing for a career in musical theatre and my music teacher said that I needed to get into dance if I wanted that career. Being an extremely motivated person, I was willing to do anything for a career in performance, so I was up for it. I got recommendations for Karen Ireland Dance Centre from a few friends and went in for a little trial class and immediately fell in love and I have not looked back since.
What motivates you as ballet dancer?
I'd have to say my peers and all dancers across the world, mainly students. I think that what we do daily as dancers is so amazing, and seeing my best friends doing what they love, and doing so well, it makes me want to work harder. Also, my teachers again, they work so hard and put so much effort into the way they teach us that it makes you want to give just as much effort back to them. And finally, the dream. The thought of what you can achieve with hard work and dedication is incentive enough. I've been lucky enough to dance on the Lincoln Centre stage and remembering that night makes me want to feel that on so many more occasions, and hard work is just one way to make that happen.
Tell us a little about your classical and free variation you performed in the final?
My classical variation was Don Quioxte Act 3. I loved performing this solo for a few reasons. I wanted to dance this solo for so long, but my teacher said I wasn't ready, so when they offered it to me it was nice to see that they were noticing my improvement. This solo also means a lot to me because my grandpa passed away earlier this year and he passed while I was competing. The day after he passed I had to perform this solo, so I like to perform it for him. He always loved seeing his grandchildren do what they loved, and I remember him coming to watch me dance and his face lighting up afterwards when I saw him. He'd had a stroke and couldn't say much but you just knew by his face that he loved it.
My free variation was a dance I choreographed myself. I used a piece of music that is a spoken word poem. It talks about the issue of bullying and the effects it has on its victims. Being a male dancer, bullying was a constant struggle, which is why I didn't want to start ballet classes earlier. It was my motivation to succeed which led me to start ballet so recently. I created this piece as a tribute to all the boys in ballet. A message to say that you are not alone, that you are strong enough to do what you love, and that you can be confident in being a dancer because what you do is amazing. Essentially a message full of everything I wish I had heard.
Which other performers do you most like to watch and why?
In terms of professional dancers, I would have to say Steven McRae. The way he moves is so gorgeous and fluid. He makes even the hardest steps look easy. I had the pleasure of watching him perform live in 'The Winter's Tale' and it was by far the best dancing I've ever seen. His versatility is also extremely admirable, and his resilience is something that inspires me to not give up. Also, my best friends, who I get to dance with every day. I think that because I get to see them work every day and I get to see their progress, watching them on stage is so much more enjoyable. They are my best friends, so seeing them do so well and dancing at such high levels just puts a smile on my face no matter what. I always look forward to seeing them perform.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
Coming into dance so late I always felt behind, so confidence was big thing for me. I never really felt like I was up to the standard of everyone else all the time. While I was in New York for YAGP finals, I was having some confidence issues because the standard was so high and my teachers told me, "Not to worry about everyone else. Know that you are not perfect yet and that's okay." They told me to, "Just be comfortable in yourself. Go out there and say, 'this is where I am in my training and I'm proud of it'." I have tried to take that with me every time I have performed since then and it has really helped.
What have you learnt from your Sydney Eisteddfod experience?
I have learnt that confidence is key but only to a certain extent. I think knowing that you can do what you want to do is important. It has taught me to believe in myself and just enjoy the moment. Not to worry about all the nitty gritty details of everything, that's what the studio is for. Onstage you should enjoy what you are doing and perform, draw your audience in so they love what you are doing as much as you do. This experience, the Sydney Eisteddfod, is so amazing not just because I made it through, but I am competing with one of my best friends who I dance with every day.
What would you say to a younger dancer who was thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod?
DO IT! I'd tell them to watch and listen all the time, to the teachers, the adjudicators and other students. To try and learn as much about themselves as a person and a dancer as they can. Watch everyone else and take notes of what they think others do well, so they can incorporate it into their own dancing. Get inspired! And as cheesy as it sounds, just enjoy themselves. There is nothing to lose, every experience can help you improve. Don't dance for the competition (although winning is always great), dance for yourself and the audience.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I am going to start training at John Cranko Schule so my first goal is to learn as much as I can and use my time there wisely to put me in the best place I can be when it comes to applying for companies. I hope I can take the advice from my current teachers and add it to the many new pieces of advice I'm sure I will hear. After I complete my training at The John Cranko Schule I would love to dance with a company of high standard who has a diverse repertoire, The Royal Ballet (of course it's practically every dancer's dream), The Australian Ballet or The Dutch National Ballet. I hope I can remain grounded and humble and always be committed to my passion, my friends and my family.