Interview | Olivier Vercoutère
Joining our Elite Masterclass Series teaching faculty in April is Bavarian State Ballet master, Olivier Vercoutère. With an extensive career spanning over 20 years, Olivier has worked with Stuttgart Ballet, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and more recently, Tokyo City Ballet. With a view to deliver the finest teachings for pre-professionals, Olivier brings first-rate, international experience working with young dancers to our annual school holiday program. This will also be his first time teaching in Australia.
In its second year the Elite Masterclass Series gives the opportunity for local, interstate and regional dancers to experience the teachings of renowned industry practitioners. What do you enjoy most about working with young dancers?
Young dancers are full of dreams – big dreams! They want to learn more every day, they absorb my corrections, and they want to get better. And for me, knowing that they are the future generation of dancers gives me such drive to help and encourage them on that road. Beside the technique, they also need coaching on the emotional and acting side of ballet, and performance in general. This is an important part of my work as well. To watch young dancers become professionals is truly rewarding.
Can you tell us about your time working as a professional dancer and your experience working with upcoming dancers?
I danced for 15 years with the Bavarian State Ballet and worked with many different choreographers. And if I take in consideration my years with the Stuttgart Ballet and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, there are even more. The schedule is almost the same everywhere: a classical class to start the day, different teachers, and of course, a different technique every day (Vaganova and the Russian school or French school, or Balanchine and the American school), followed by rehearsals or workshops.
Every choreographer has their own style and every one of them has made me develop both as a dancer and as a person. From Mats Eck to Forsythe through Jiri Kylian or Saburo Teshigawara, they all gave me so much knowledge about body and movement, about freedom within the rules, and about what it means to be a dancer. All these different styles improved my ballet technique, and I try to transmit this knowledge to my juniors.
What are you most looking forward to about working with aspiring Australian dancers?
This will be my first time teaching in Australia and I am very excited. I had quite a few Australian colleagues, and they were very focused and hard workers. So I imagine all Australian dancers are hard workers, right? I can’t wait to step into that studio and make them sweat!
What advice would you give to students considering international study at a professional finishing school?
If a student would like to move to Europe to complete their education, I would give them the advice to get as much information as possible about the different schools. This would include what method they teach, whether the school is connected to a company or theatre, the education of their teachers, and where their graduates are now. And if a student gets the chance to come to Europe they should take the time to travel around and visit several schools and see how they feel. A reputable school is a combination of good teachers, great facilities, direct connection with a theatre (because big classical companies always need extras, and they are usually coming from the school), and location within an enjoyable city.
25 – 27 April 2018