Noelle Shader is a name that is so significant to the rehabilitation of dancers within the Australian Ballet and beyond.
Noelle's caring, detailed approach has assisted countless dancers back to the stage - her ethics align perfectly with MDM's safe dance practice message.
Noelle currently teachers freelance at Vocational Studios around Victoria and also presents workshops alongside her former Australian Ballet colleague, Paula Baird - Colt.
We sat down with Noelle to ask a few questions about her own dance career and to find out more about her passion for mindful dance teaching.
School of America Ballet, New York City, U.S.A - 8 years
Graduate and Apprentice to New York City Ballet Company
Dancer with NYCB, under the directorship of George Balanchine.
What brought you to Australia?
I fell in love with Australia, and it's people, after a holiday to Perth. I was 25 years old, and was proud to be a member of NYCB for seven years.
Although I was in good condition, I was plagued by an ongoing ankle injury, and knew I could become disillusioned with my dance career in the future. After much discussion, my husband and I decided to turn our "holiday" into our future lives, and return to Australia permanently.
Although, I realised how much I would be giving up in leaving my profession and my family in the States, I was excited and curious to experience a new culture. The opportunity to create, develop and utilise my skills and interests for the Australian dance industry became a very strong calling, which I followed.
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspirations are drawn from my life's experience's and observations, both inside and outside of the studio - All forms of Art, Literature and Nature.
I have had the privilege of teaching, coaching, mentoring, rehearsing and working with inspired students, performers, teachers, choreographers and directors alike. Each generation representing and reflecting their generation in the art form.
Thinking and Feeling Dancers are Inspirational - They have mastered their instrument (their body) to enable them to express and convey their artistry freely. Among the many dancers that come to mind - Tamara Rojo, Sylvie Guillem, Carlos Acosta and Kevin Jackson.
Inspirational Teachers equally have mastered their craft by motivating, educating and supporting the dancer to understand how to acquire their optimal technique and artistry. Every teacher has something to offer - but great teachers are those that make an impact on a dancer that they then carry throughout their career.
Among the many through dance history - Asaf Messerer, Agrippina Vaganova, and of course, the amazing, David Howard.
How did Dance Rehabilitation become your passion?
Over my 35 year teaching span, the blend of Medical/ Dance Sciences has blossomed. Before this was able to be fully instilled, I found myself greatly frustrated and angered by observing the damage dancers incurred, from poor teaching methodology and unsafe dance practice.
Noticing this lack of awareness and understanding of working with the physical limitations of the body placed in front of you, I became interested in the science of kinesiology in relation to dance. As Ballet Mistress for the AB, I also observed that chronic and repetitive strain injuries continued reoccurring, after the dancer returned "medically fit" to the studio. As a result of faulty placement and technique, dancer's continued to repeat damaging movement patterning. This inevitably placed strains on their joints and alignment leading to a reoccurring or new injury.
Therefore, the AB was one of the first companies to create a Medical Team to deal with injury prevention for dancers. My role was to facilitate between the Medical Team and the studio by;
Raising and re-educating a dancer's self awareness and understanding of their own physical limitations by learning and understanding the benefits and effects of placement on a step, in relation to correct execution.
Retraining faulty movement patterning to change muscle memory, to create efficient and functional technique, thereby supporting longevity in their career.
What do you commonly see in young dancer's today, good and bad?
-Greater physical facility and ability
-More vocal participation in the studio
- Dancer's 'thinking' with greater sources available through technology
- Global accessibility and exposure, greater communication with other dancers
-Fear and reluctance of changing faulty technical patterning, until injuries occur.
-Tension commonly used as a false replacement for strength.
-Working excessive hours, not necessarily suitable for healthy, successful or safe dance practice.
- Information overload can cause dancer to lack taking responsibility or self discovery.
Noelle's Top Tips:
Always start and finish every exercise/enchainment in the correct position and alignment, to allow muscle memory to settle.
Cross train - use outside sources to enrich/support physical, mental and emotional well being.
Maintain goals - short and long term.
Never stop learning- remain open to new experiences.