Cassandra Merwood is one of Sydney’s emerging choreographers with her spot confirmed in the Top 8 contenders for Australian Dance Festival’s NEXT Choreographer competition this September.
Dancer and choreographer Cassandra Merwood has been selected as a finalist in the Australian Dance Festival N.E.X.T Choreographer Competition, which will take place on September 14-16. The winner receives a $5,000 grant to help produce a professional choreographic showreel with video crew included. Last year’s winner Cat Santos produced a rendition of Michael Jackson’s dangerous, fusing Latin American, hip-hop and jazz styles with a cast of roughly 30 dancers.
Born in Queensland, Cassandra began dancing at two-years-old at Johnny Young Talent School. As dance grew into her passion, she decided to study a Diploma of Musical Theatre & teaching certificate (CSTD) at Davidia Lind Dance Centre. At 16 she discovered a passion for urban/hip-hop styles and began establishing herself as a professional commercial dancer within the corporate industry with credits including Myer, Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian and Hermitude.
Cassandra was fortunate enough to perform at the ARIA awards three years ago alongside Hermitude. This experience opened many doors to her performance career.
“We performed a show for them at the ARIAs and then they invited us to do the performance on their show the next night! It was a great opportunity for us!” admitted Casandra.
Cassandra is now a resident choreographer at her agency Focus. When she first dived into the world of choreography, she was reserved about putting herself up for jobs.
“I want to be a choreographer, so my agent put me forward for jobs that seemed daunting at first to me.I said yes to everything and then worked it out. If you just say yes, you will grow and learn amazing new skills,” told Cassandra
Cassandra choreographed television commercials for ABC Kids, corporate events for Harvey Norman, plus worked for Rachel Disalvo and Greenpeace. Her dedication to pursuing a career in the arts is a hard stint given the lack of opportunities in the Australian dance industry.
“Australian dancers are super talented and our training is amazing but there are simply not enough jobs here. I want to explore the area of potential for other industries to hire dancers.”
Cassandra’s main goal as a choreographer is to bring diversity to light and to change the current mould for the commercial dance scene.