Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Renata Commisso is a professional Australian dancer with a European training and International profile. She recently returned to her home town of Sydney and became part of the Inner West suburb of Drummoyne. She has since developed an interest in social work and holistic community development that has created a desire to use her dance expertise to drive wellbeing within her home area.
She talks to Esther Goldsby about her early experiences as a dancer in other companies and how she learned to reconnect to her childhood love of movement.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional dancer?
A: I started to dance at the age of 5 when my Mum decided I had too much energy and needed to burn some of it off! After trying all the styles, I fell in love with classical ballet, contemporary and jazz. I wanted to be on the stage in musicals, but one thing led to another and I found myself leaving Australia at the age of 18 to attend the Heinz-Bosl Stiftung Ballet Academy in Munich, Germany.
Q: What drove you to develop your experience in so many countries?
A: Well, I followed the opportunities as my interests changed and developed. I didn't specifically decide to go to any particular country, but I'm grateful for the incredibly diverse experiences I've had and the connections I have made. I've learned a huge amount of different techniques and styles from choreographer and dancers around the globe. I've worked in contemporary and classical dance companies in Spain, France, Germany and Canada as well as a number of places in Australia but it was in Canada where I really found my groove and feel in love with Montreal, still calling it my home.
Q: What was so amazing about Montreal? How did it affect your journey in dance?
A: Montreal is such an incredible city. It has so much history and culture but also is innovative and open-minded to dream. The company I was dancing in, Les Grands Ballets Canadians, despite its name, was a contemporary dance company with a diverse range of styles. I was exposed to so many techniques and I was part of an incredible team of dancers where I was able to learn and transform my artistic practice. A highlight in this time, was being exposed to the Gaga technique and dancing Naharin's work internationally. The style completely changed my perspective on movement and allowed me to feel that dance is an internal and external expression of who I am. I am at my most authentic when I am moving. Without moving I'm not the real Renata. Deepening your physical sensations expands your movement options and allows anything to be possible. It allows you to connect and listen to your body, to your imagination, improve your flexibility and stamina and most importantly enjoy the pleasure of movement.
Q: What challenges have you experienced during your career?
A: I realised at one point that I had stopped dancing for myself and was just doing what the directors and choreographers told me to without regard for how it was making me feel. I was being judged and judging myself, on the smallest of perceived errors, which made me confused about who I was as a dancer and as a person. I was getting anxious, closed minded and allowing my feelings to be hurt. The most important thing is that I had stopped dancing for the joy and it was this joy that got me into dance in the first place.
Q: What did you do to make sure you got your groove back?
A: I made an active decision to be happy. I took back dance for myself. At night, when rehearsals were done for the day and all the studios were empty, I would let myself in and just DANCE. Dance out the stress and tension and create dances that were for myself and me alone. Dance is an important part of my own self expression. I'm less good with words. I use dance to process the positive and negative events that I have experienced and I needed to shift my focus into OWNING the process of dance for myself as well as it being a career where I needed to answer to others.