Cupcakes & Conversation with Jason Lam, Professional Dancer (with Sydney Dance Company, Opera Australia, Tasdance, Tasmanian Ballet, Melbourne Ballet and independently), dance teacher, Freelance consultant, designer, filmmaker and artist, Director of design collective, Kaboom Studios.
Jason is a diverse artist; as a performer he received a ‘Foot in the Door’ Grant from the Australia Council, and was a finalist in the British Council’s ‘Realise your Dream’ Scholarship. He is also a visual artist and filmmaker. He has created visuals for artists and companies such as The Australian Ballet, Bayerisches Staatsballet, Munich, Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company and others. He is a graduate from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and has had his work exhibited. His poetic dance film, ‘Unfed’ has been screened and broadcast nationally and internationally. He is in demand as a teacher of dance. He also lectures in digital media at the University of Technology Sydney on new modalities of digital form generation and at Flinders University on the use of projection in performance. He is also one of the inaugural members of the SCOPE program, run by the Australia Council and The Australian Institute of Sport which provides support for dancers in transition. He is currently studying medicine and also continues to teach and work in the arts through his collective with Adam Synnott, Kaboom Studios.
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
At 8 I’m already running around the wards seeing patients, scribbling notes and being asked questions I don’t know the answer to. But I guess the prospect of learning something new, and sharing in something profound. That and a double skim mocha and muffin. When I was dancing, it was a hot shower, coffee and then the prospect of basically playing with some of my favourite people in the world.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
Alina Cojocaru in Romeo and Juliet.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
Palais Garnier – just the history and that it’s a stunning theatre (still a classicist at heart I guess).
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
Get up at 5.30 to do some study and some yoga, hospital at 730 till 5/7 either on the wards, in theatre or in lectures, then after that I’ll either have class, or be teaching class, study or working on my on projects which include my latest dance film.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I do yoga and a ballet barre regardless of whether I’m performing classically or contemporary. Then I go over tricky things solo and with my partner. Then I do makeup as quickly and simply as possible and if it’s a dramatic role, I’ll take 5-10 min to meditate and get into character.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2010 ?
These days I’m happy to be able to do class or 2 every week 🙁
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Tim Burton, Charlie Kaufman, Wayne McGregor, Bill Henson, Fiona Wood, Charlie Teo
What would surprise people about you ?
While my room is more or less a disaster, my virtual computer workspace is fastidiously organised.
Who inspired you to dance ?
No one really, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Mind you there was this girl….
How would someone else describe you ?
What is your best piece of advice ?
Bite off more than you can chew and chew like crazy.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Lots of roles in different ways, but I guess I did a role in Divine Harmonies by Shaun Parker, which had me carrying another man for 5 minutes without him touching the ground and going to the point of total physical and mental exhaustion, which was very tough to do over and over again. Also inasmuch by Jason Pitt – as it was a two hander with the fabulous Marnie Palomares so there was a lot of pressure to hold the show and I was also responsible for creating the complex multiscreen projections.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
There was this jump where the girl was to leap backwards blind and I’d catch her and swing her to the next boy. This one time, she was there well early and I was a few meters away. Usually I give as small call to signal the boys and my readiness. This time however she was on a roll and decided to leap when none of us were remotely close by and landed plum on her bum right down stage front. Kudos to her, she just got up and kept dancing.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
Not a unitard!
Something comfortable and flattering in black. Preferably not involving Lycra at all.
A phrase I use far too often is …
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
ha. He. Always wanted to be a movie star.
What is your favourite quote?
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are – Anais Nin
What’s on your iPod ?
I’m into Max Richter, godspeed! you black emperor, explosions in the sky and Beirut at the moment.
What makes you a good dance partner ?
Trust in me and themselves, and good communication.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
I used to be a terrible rollerblader and spent many hours falling down stairs and ramps in an attempt to master one trick or another.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Short Attention Span.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
I’ll be happy to still be dancing some, teaching and coaching lots.