Phillip Jenkins

Metallica, Danish Royalty and Morwell’s Bridle Road may all be literally worlds apart, but for Phillip Jenkins, the connection came through a passion for dance and movement. Since his humble beginnings at Julie Ryan’s dance studio in Traralgon, he has danced his way all around the world, from the streets of Morwell to the plazas of Barcelona.

What’s your job title, or a short description about what you do?

I am a Contemporary Ballet Dancer and Choreographer.

What is your main specialty/expertise/niche?

Contemporary Dance

Where do you work now?

Brent Street Performing Arts School and freelance projects

What companies have you worked for?

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Royal Danish Ballet, Pantera Chamber Ballet, Lotte Sigh Dance Company, 2Entertain, The one and only, Dies Di Dansa, Roskilde Music Festival, Lisboa Dance Festival, Hamburg Dance Company, Trentemoller, Tim Rushton, Christine Caprioli, Copenhagen Dance Arts, So you think you can dance Scandinavia.

Please give us a more detailed summary about what your job involves.

Being a dancer is hard work. When working with a choreographer you usually take a morning class for warming up, preparing the body for the day ahead, extremely important as it keeps the body in alignment for the craziness that sometimes lies ahead in rehearsals. I mostly work on a basis with choreographers where they talk to me and I improvise my interpretation of their concepts back to them. From there they shape, mould their concept on the body in motion. Sometimes the choreographers know exactly what they want, other times creative freedom is there where you are set tasks that involves your own input… there can come creative blocks and you learn to accept that, its like a writer having a writers block. Usually I work alone with a choreographer then teach the other dancers the rest of the material. As well as this eating healthy, running and swimming are a big part of taking care of the body…

What’s the funnest thing about your job?

I love the risk of live theatre, everything is planned but anything can happen factor. Doing what I love most, being able to share it. Meeting new people, learning about different cultures, travelling.

How did you get into doing what you do?

I trained as a gymnast in Gippsland, when I discovered dance I took myself to Melbourne where I studied Classical Ballet for one year, after this I did two years in Performing Arts, where after this I moved to Copenhagen Denmark and took a 4 year Bachelor in Dance at The National School of Contemporary Dance.

Did you have to do some specialist study?

Yes, the four years of training included theoretical components with relevance to the dance industry or some what challenged the individual to find what their input to the dance environment would be. In the end I was left with a Bachelor in Fine Arts and Dance.

What are some of the most impressive things you have done in your career?

Guested with Alvin Ailey American dance theatre who are an African American dance company and one of the best in the world. Opened the Roskilde Orange scene dancing for a friend of mine Trentemoller, we opened to 120, 000 people… goosebumps as I write this! Dancing in a world premiere in Moscow was huge for me… Russia is so well respected on the world dance stage, and they are amazing dancers. Representing Denmark in a Korean dance competition. Being a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Scandinavia where I was one of four selected in representing Denmark against Sweden and Norway. My first premiere in Germany as a choreographer was a special day, it then toured with great reviews to south American.

Met or worked with or for any celebs or royalty?

I was backstage to a Metallica concert, afterwards me and a friend partied with them, I was carried upstairs to my bed by the bassist as I had challenged him in a tequilla drinking competition… big mistake. Connie Neilson, Gitte Stalone, Trentemoller, Scissor Sisters, Bjork, Prince, Kylie, Amanda Le Pore, Garce Jones, Aha, Aqua, Nelly Furtardo, Kanye West, Prince Joachim, Princess Mary, The Danish Queen, Helene Christiansen, John Rhys Davies (Gimli from Lord of the Rings), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Paris Hilton.

Have you been published in special publications?

Quite a few dance magazines in Europe.


Have you been able to travel with your job?

Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Sweden, London, Copenhagen, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Korea, Sydney, Melbourne

Where did you grow up in Gippsland?


What are your fondest memories of living here?

Family, friends, being a kid. Minimum chips, down to the creek, tadpoling, my cousin had a quater pipe (skate ramp), rollerblading, hangin out on Bridle estate. Mid valley! HA

What school/s did you go to?

St Vincents and CRC

What subjects did you do at school that led you to this career?

CRC was unable to offer anything… VCE drama was cancelled due to not enough people selecting it as a subject. So I had to pick up P.E to my disgust!

Tell us about when you first left Gippsland and why?

To move to Melbourne and begin training classical ballet in St Melbourne at Dance world 301.

Please tell us about how your life changed after you left Gippsland?

My horizons were endless, my perspectives became many, I found that there was no right or wrong and that we all had something to say if you were willing to speak up and wanted it enough.

What kind of things in Gippsland helped lead you to the career path you have now?

I think my sister always encouraged my creativity, the physicality of gymnastics was always a help.

How could our area improve to support creative people?

With this project, council funding and using our facilities better to pull names into Gippsland.

What things were missing when you lived here to help support your interests?

Peoples knowledge of dance was limited.

Do you still have connections with Gippsland?


Do you come back and if so how regularly?

A few times a year, family functions. Been away 10 years and was just living there for three months.

Where do you get inspiration from?

From anything and everything, reminding myself to sit back sometimes and just observe.

Who are your heroes?

Grace Jones, Walter Van Beirendonck, Michael Kvium, Pina Baucsh, George Balanchine, Sylvie Guillem, Paul Kalkbrenner, Bjork.

What advice would you give to someone who might want to get into a career like yours?

To be honest with themselves as to what their intentions with dance are. Think outside the box and challenge yourself.


Posted on April 12, 2013

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