“SCIPA is more than a dance school; it is a creative hub of mentors and friends that, from experience, I can say have always encouraged their students to explore more, try again, express yourself, and always do it with kindness in your heart.
Miss Nirvana pushed me when I needed it and supported me when I didn’t know I needed it. She was more than a teacher – she was and is my mentor still supporting me 7 years later, whose abilities I aspire to as I train to become a teacher myself.”
Alicia began her serious training as a dancer and teacher at SCIPA in 2012 under the direction of Nirvana James. During her time at SCIPA, Alicia found her love of choreography and teaching. She trained to become a studio teacher, received two Callback nominations for dance HSC, and received first place multiple times for student choreography and hip hop.
Alicia moved to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Dance and Physical Education at the Australian College of Physical Education. She has continued to learn as a teacher through studio work at Dance Expressions, Dance from Within, Momentum Dance Studio and Sally K Dance.
Alicia has taken part in many different creative forms in order to develop her teaching and love of the performing arts including Albatross Musical Theatre Company, RAW (Wollongong) Independent Artists Showcase, ACPE Cheerleading and ACPE Hip Hop Crew.
“SCIPA has been a crucial part of my dance experience. The talent and professionalism of Nirvana and her array of staff meant I had access to incredible opportunities locally in a small town. During only 2 years of training under Nirvana, I was opened to the professional world of contemporary dance learning the endless possibilities for someone unsure of what they wanted to pursue within dance. Nirvana encouraged me to audition for Austinmer Dance Theatre in 2013, a company that later became the greatest importance in my growth as an artist. Whether it’s classical training, expressive/free movement, commercial classes, or even tapping that you’re looking for, SCIPA has endless pathways and opportunities for all ages across all genres. A very special dance school, something that can be hard to come by!“
“My name is Isabella Whawhai Waru, I’m a performance-based artist living and working in Birraranga, a BFA Dance graduate from the Victorian College of the Arts, and an ex-student of SCIPA.
I joined SCIPA in its year of inception, 2012, and explored dance for three years under the direction of Nirvana James-Richie and her staff. My time with SCIPA fuelled an inherent passion for performance and movement, offered foundational skills, confidence, strength, and the space to grow and explore my interests.
While attending SCIPA, I was taught routines rich with integrity, artistic complexity and opportunities to learn. While skills and technique in dance are valuable and many studios champion their competitive wins as paramount, what has supported my artistic career most fully is the capacity to think, move and create with artistic integrity, to be innovative, creative and to move with awareness. This was supported and honed during my time with SCIPA and set me in a position to continue developing my artistic abilities beyond the studio.
Nirvana herself was a generous, thoughtful educator with care for her students’ individual interests and aspirations. In a world of dance which can be particularly hostile and nonchalant when it comes to the wellbeing, safety and respect of its dancers, Nirvana maintained a keen understanding of the importance of educating dancers who prioritise physical safety over aesthetic and personal development over external competition.
These are the values and teachings I believe are essential for young dancers to receive as they might grow to work within the creative and performative industries.”
Mikayla is now an independent dancer based in Newcastle. She was a member of Austinmer Dance Theatre for the duration of 2015. In 2016 Mikayla was accepted into Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional year receiving a full scholarship. There she worked with choreographers such as Llyod Newson, Antony Hamilton, Sue Healey, and Kristina Chan and Thomas Bradley. After completing the course she participated in many choreographic labs through dirty feet and developments with various choreographers in the Sydney Region. Mikayla performed in Lisa McDonell’s piece ‘Chamber Dances’ in Wollongong, and choreographed and starred in David Muratore’s music video Elegant and Loicc’s Branches. In 2018/2019 Mikayla has worked with Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub in Newcastle. Performing in Cadi McCarthy’s work That Place in Between, debuted her own solo And yet.. and recently performed in Israeli choreographer Rachael Erdos’s piece The Loneliness project. Mikayla continues to work with the Catapult company and will be touring with them in 2020.