Cathy Chittleborough

Cathy Chittleborough

As a busy academic and mother, Cathy Chittleborough juggles the demands of her job and family to continue to dance.  Her dream is to ‘keep dancing until I leave this world’.

Starting ballet at age seven, and going on to complete the Royal Academy of Dance’s (RAD) advanced ballet exam, Cathy now finds the most challenging about dance is to keep dancing with a body that is getting older, but that’s also the most rewarding part of dance.

 

Find out more about Cathy through her answers to our Q&A.

Tell us about your early dance journey?  Where did you start and what did you do as a child?

I started ballet classes when I was seven years old, at the same place the girl across the road went. She gave up after a year or so but I kept going.

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What is your earliest memory of dance?

Going to ballet class in my black leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet shoes in a hall that seemed huge at the time. And my youngest sister, aged three, following along at the back of the class while she was waiting with my mum.

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Where have you trained and who were your teachers as a dancer?

Dancecraft Studios with the incredible Christine Underdown was the most influential training I had. Before then I had been to a few studios in the southern suburbs, but that was the first studio in the city. It opened my eyes to a whole lot more of life that I didn’t know existed.

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What have been some standout moments/achievements you’ve had with dance?

Passing my Advanced RAD exam (I think it’s called Advanced 2 now). I failed it the first time I tried, but then changed schools, and discovered a whole new way of dancing, and didn’t just pass the second time, but got Commended. It’s not the only time in life I’ve had to have more than one go to get it right.

I was an extra with the Australian Ballet for one of their Adelaide seasons. The performing turned out not to be too difficult, but the audition process was scary. I remember a cross-road moment in the audition where I could see I was nearly on the “out” list, and made a conscious decision to make sure I was seen… and got the job.

Winning choreographic competitions with my dear friend and dancer-in-crime, Suzy. We were young, but created some masterpieces. I’ve also enjoyed choreographing on other dancers, including my sister, as they could usually make my ideas come together better than I imagined.

Being the poster girl for Move Through Life’s mOcean Fringe show in 2007. It was a photo shoot at the beach and we jumped about in the sea. Jo managed to catch a great shot of me and I was thrilled she used it in the marketing. It was my five minutes of fame, seeing my picture up all over Adelaide for a little while.

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Have you performed in a Fringe show before? If so, tell us about it

Yes, Move Through Life’s 2007 mOcean season. Fabulous experience.

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What is your favourite thing about dance?

Escapism. And keeping the body fit.

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What is your favourite thing about performing?

That buzz from audience reactions – applause, laughter etc.

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What dance styles are you most drawn to?

Anything with actual dancing in it. The rolling-about-on-the-floor-with-no-real-steps doesn’t really do it for me.

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What are your top three favourite dance movies?

Strictly Ballroom. There was a time where I could just about recite the entire dialogue I’d seen it so many times. Singing in the Rain – so many classic dance numbers with the sublime Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, among others. Shall We Dance? – I watched this on the plane on my way home from being overseas for a few weeks, and “The Book of Love” Peter Gabriel song in it made me ball my eyes out because I missed my hubby-to-be.

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Who are some of your favourite dancers or choreographers?

Lizzie and Zaimon Vilmanis (yes, I’m biased, but I’m allowed to be). They have incredible technique and ability to tell stories with the full range of emotions through their dancing.

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What for you is the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of dance?

Most challenging: still being able to dance with a body that is getting older. Most rewarding: still being able to dance with a body that is getting older.

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What training or practice do you do at home?

Hardly any, unless we’re in COVID lockdown in which case I try to do two virtual classes a week. In usual circumstances I have a bit of a stretch here and there, but I lack self-motivation and really need to go to class to train.

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What are your dance goals, dreams, or aspirations?

To keep dancing until I leave this world.

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How many times a week do you dance? And what are they (eg class, rehearsals, where, with who?)

Twice with Move Through Life – one ballet class, one rehearsal. Occasionally do a different class (eg with Stefaan Morrow), and would love to do more, but run out of time in the week.

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What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (again, it doesn’t have to be dance-related)

1. Walk slower. 2. Stop expecting people to be like you.

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What keeps you motivated when you are tired, discouraged, or down?

My family, my faith.

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Why did you decide to audition for the MTL Performing Company?

Because Jo said she had ideas to do a show simply about the joy of dance, without trying to be too deep and meaningful about any particular issue.

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How did you hear about Move Through Life?

My dear friend Suzy used to live in the same street as Jo, and she and her mum knew about the first Move Through Life performance and told me I should investigate… so I did, and have been involved ever since.

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What is your favourite thing about being part of the MTL Performing Company?

Getting to know this amazing group of women who all have busy lives but a common interest in continuing to dance. Having dance created on us. Also, I really appreciate how organised Jo is – that makes it easier to fit it in among lots of competing priorities.

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What is your ‘day job’? (could be working, studying, volunteering etc)

I’m an epidemiologist and public health lecturer at the University of Adelaide.