Kelly Aykers may be a young full-time dance establishment, but these dancers show just as much maturity, dedication, and talent as its competitors.

The National Theatre comes alive as the dancers stand to await the music’s call. Everyone wears different threads of black and gold, but what unites them are the white painted faces and gloves. This is not your ordinary commercial routine, starting out with piano music and mime. As the beat drops, dancers hit the commercial steps powerfully and the audience cheers along. Choreographer Etienne Khoo wells up with pride as he witnesses his routine from the audience.

It is clear the dancers are comfortable in the commercial style more so than contemporary or musical theatre. The various works from Phill Haddad, Jordan Charles Herbert, Donnie Dimase and Gerard Pigg are all breathtaking and unique. What makes these routines so easy to watch is the transition between each item; the cyc changes to a different bohemian city landscape while the dancers all slow walk to their next position—very grunge and cool tones.

Technical execution and stamina peak during choreographer Jack Egan’s tap item. The IDO Tap Team coach is truly making a name for himself in the industry, revitalising tap dance to young artists. The dancers are confident under Jack Egan’s direction as they perform new and intricate steps with a sense of ease.

The contemporary part of the triple bill is choreographed by the emerging  Josephine Magliolo and explores the concept of relationships with all its good and bad. The choreography assisted by Katie Place and Casey Parke is a neat blend of technical and emotional elements, embracing lots of partner work and isolations. The themes of love, loyalty, and kindness are all surfaced, but it is the theme of domestic violence that is most dynamic. A male-female duo dances violently over a table in a raunchy, modern pas de deux, unleashing their rage toward one another. It is refreshing to see this dance piece relate to the LGBTIQ community especially after the recent bill passed in Australia to make same-sex marriage legal. 

We step into a time machine and get transported back through modern history, where we celebrate iconic women in the performing arts such as Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, and Liza Minnelli. Revitalising such singers by performing their best songs is a dangerous idea for full-time students to execute, yet they do very well. Singing from the students requires more training to beat the nerves but they have come so far since their mid-year showcase RAW. An absolute stand out of the night is a young female performer who sings ‘Memories’ of the musical Cats. Her tone of voice and power have the audience with dropped jaws as she sings only to a live piano accompaniment.

Kelly Aykers teaching her students. Photo: website.

In under five years, Kelly Aykers has entered the Melbourne full-time dance scene by leaps and bounds. With all-star choreographers and a full stage of talented students, this school is one to watch out for.