Australian triple threat performer Ashleigh Kiven is one to watch after she completed her musical theatre training at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City and later gaining professional credits including Disney’s ‘Newsies, the Musical’ .
A New York City dream
Venturing to the ‘big apple’ was always on Kiven’s bucket list. When she was awarded a scholarship to train at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City, one of the most established arts institutions globally, the dream of becoming a professional performer felt within arm’s reach.
“I was cast to sing Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret musical number, ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ in my final semester showcase and this was choreographed and created by the brilliant award-winning industry professional Keith Andrews Mehrtens. I mean talk about a gift of industry exposure at such a transformational time!”
Patrick Studios Australia paving the way for success
Prior to her tertiary education at AMDA, Kiven kickstarted her pre-professional training at Patrick School of the Arts (PSA)—formerly Patrick Studios Australia, a leading Melbourne-based tertiary performing arts institution led by Todd Patrick.
Here, she was fortunate to receive the prestigious ‘Dancer of the Year’ award, which paved the way for her venture overseas.
“This humbling award is in my heart and soul. My experiences at AMDA and PSA have grounded and shaped me into the person I am today. The lessons are with me every day. The amount of respect I have for my teachers is infinite,” said Kiven.
Acclaimed choreographer, dancer and director Todd Patrick has been an inspiration to Kiven, transforming her talent into a successful, well rounded professional artist.
“Todd Patrick is unbelievably profound! He gave me direction and paved the way for success. He is an inspirational dancer, artist and director. I would like to thank him personally for the way he has shaped my career. I will always look up to him.”
Her mentors at PSA were influential in shaping the performer she is today. Crossing paths with Colette Mann, Australian actress, singer, TV and radio presenter and choreographer best known for her work in Neighbours and Prisoner was a highlight of her time at PSA.
“Along with all of the powerful teachers I trained under at PSA, I was so blessed to encounter long term mentor and famous star Colette Mann! She embodies what it means to be a performing artist and a professional.”
Multi award-winning choreographer Andrew Hallsworth was a profound director of the Musical Theatre Program for Kiven during her time at PSA (Hallsworth now spearheads Transit Dance’s Musical Theatre course). Other notable mentors include David Wiskin, Amanda Stone, Paul Malek, Kim Adam and Yvette Lee.
“Amanda Stone is a genius teacher, choreographer, director and mentor. She got the most out of me and truly catapults talent to the top! I was blessed with the opportunity to work with her on Kids WB on Channel 9!”
She continued, “I went on to working professionally with several of my mentors and teachers from Patrick Studios Australia after graduating, which is an honour I cherish.”
A ‘Newsies’ beginning
Kiven was successful in landing the professional Disney production ‘Newsies, the Musical’ at the award-winning Axelrod Performing Arts Centre in Deal Park, New Jersey. Here she encountered Andrew Deprisco, the artistic director of Axelrod and found herself in the role of Jojo (female Newsie) and the dance/fight captain.
Incorporating a hybrid of styles including jazz, tap, hip hop, acrobatics and contemporary, Kiven adored the process of being in a leadership role. Directed and choreographed by Marcos Santana (Broadway’s Guys and Dolls, In the Heights and On Your Feet!), Kiven was exposed to industry-best stands.
“His expertise as a director had me so focused and intent on getting the story across. His profound choreography had me in chills!”
She added, “The show was under the musical direction of Andrew David Sotomayor who is remarkable! Working under his genius was an experience I will always cherish. Betty Weinberger was the assistant choreographer and is someone I will always look up to and admire. Her abilities and talent are exceptional,” said Kiven.
Masterful training on a spiritual and emotional level
Kiven’s training includes regular sessions with performance coach and star talent Steven Flam. She began working with Flam upon graduating AMDA while auditioning and working.
“Steven has a unique ability to transform an artist to allow for them to reach their goals and achieve great heights,” said Kiven.
Kiven also does Luigi Jazz training with Francis J Roach (Luigi’s protege), Broadway talent Yuka Notsuka and Radio City star Conner Coughlin at the famous Luigi Jazz School.
“Francis J Roach’s captivating grace, flair and exquisite mastery leave me spellbound. The level of artistry you experience and learn through the Luigi Jazz Technique is enlightening. He continues to transform me into the dancer I have always strived to become.”
It is not just perfecting her artistic craft that is important to her success. Kiven’s regime stems from the New York Times Best Selling author Anthony William who is the mastermind behind Medical Medium.
“Anthony William is a star, a life saviour and a wonder in this world. He is a warrior! I am a huge fan!”
Kiven is guided by health coaches Muneeza Ahmed, Dr Kimberly Spair, Amber Lynn Stone and Dr Joy Clark who implement various Medical Medium protocols to enhance overall wellbeing, lifestyle and mindset.
“The Medical Medium community is a brilliant-minded support system that keeps me motivated, inspired and educated beyond belief. These masters help me get to where I need to be mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.”
Professional credits spanning Kiven’s career
Kiven starred Dan Coyle’s one-woman show, ’Hiraeth’ on the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City.
This role was the first big break for Kiven upon graduating at AMDA. She remembered standing in the middle of the theatre district and being told she landed the part—under the lights of Broadway.
“Dan Coyle is a genius and I was so fortunate to play this role. The poetic intricacies and the portrayal through movement was incredibly humbling; especially on the iconic 13th street repertory theatre stage where history in the art form had unfolded before me.”
Kiven also worked as a featured dancer and solo vocalist with Julie Flanders, Marina Belica and Emil Adler on the award-winning ‘October Project presents: Virtual Choir of Joy.’
“I was further honoured the role of dancing to this masterpiece as well as singing amongst individuals from all over the globe!”
Along her professional career, Kiven has encountered singer-songwriter Alyssa Degati; a profound source of inspiration for Kiven as a performing artist.
“Her music is a gift to this world and has given the artist in me a sacred space to dance!”
Working with the modern Aussie greats
Kiven has made a name for herself in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, performing with pop-star sensation Jessica Mauboy with choreographic direction by the renowned Marko Panzic at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
“I was starstruck! She is so exquisite and beyond gifted! It was a large group number choreographed by Marko Panzic! I loved dancing his choreography so much!”
Forging a professional path from secondary schooling
The journey for Kiven truly kicked off back in secondary school when she was appointed the performing arts captain of Mount Scopus Memorial College. The performance and leadership opportunities allowed her to hone her craft. From the big annual musical to charity events and daily lunchtime concerts, Kiven found a home away from home in the heart of the school’s performing arts precinct.
“Being the performing Arts captain of Mount Scopus Memorial College after a legacy of extremely talented students was an honour; especially alongside my astoundingly gifted best friend and successful performing artist Amy Hack. Evie Gawenda and the performing arts faculty were monumental in guiding me towards a professional path!”
Kiven is on a mission to train from the masters in the industry, continuing to develop her passion and skill in the performing arts.
Learning is the key to unlocking growth
Kiven’s goal is to continue to grow technically and creatively as a performing artist. Working on the craft is a passion of hers in all areas.
“I love learning! The feeling of growth and discovery is so powerful!”
Kiven is busily preparing for a lead role in a new professional musical production in New York that will also tour to Los Angeles.