On the Couch with Kyall Shanks

Kyall Shanks Arts Review On the CouchWho is Kyall Shanks?
I am a professional contemporary dancer, currently based in Melbourne. I originally started dancing in 2009 with a NSW based youth company called fLiNG Physical Theatre, and in 2015 graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, receiving the Orloff Family Charitable Trust award for Most Outstanding Dancer. Since graduating I have been heavily involved as a teacher and choreographer with the youth company Yellow Wheel, and have also travelled to Darwin to teach and choreograph. I have performed in Japan and Malaysia, and am currently working with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Re:Bourne.

Who inspires you and why?
This is a hard question to answer because I’m very inspired by lots of people. I think there’s little bits of wisdom or lessons we can take from everyone around us. I really look up to a lot of Melbourne artists, and a lot of my peers. Some of my biggest influences have probably been my teachers though, particularly Lee Pemberton and Adam Wheeler, the artistic directors of the youth companies I’ve been involved with.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
If I could have more power to change anything in the world it would definitely be to make arts role in society more realized and respected by the general public. I think the work and input artists have into the world gets undervalued a lot of the time. I would also want to increase awareness of animal rights and make change to the way they are treated.

Favorite holiday destination and why?
So far it has been Tokyo. Japan is an incredible place and I think that the general atmosphere and nature in which people act is incredibly humble and respectful. I think the world needs more of that right now and I had an amazing time there last year with some very hospitable people. Also, the food there is incredible.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Melbourne is so well known for having amazing food and so whenever friends or family come to visit I love to take them to some of my favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants. For example, Smith and Daughters, Sister of Soul and Veggie Bar are some of my favorites.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently re-reading Lord of the Flies, doing some research and character work in preparation for the show.

What are you currently listening to?
I don’t really have any particular favorites when it comes to music. It’s a huge spectrum depending on what I’m in the mood for. It literally bounces between show tunes, classical, pop, country, rock etc.

Happiness is…?
I think happiness is not comparing yourself to others, and not being in a place where you can feel affected by their actions. Where I am right now, I try to live a life where I am content and happy, regardless of what goes on around me. I don’t think it’s about not caring about my surroundings and others, but just knowing that regardless of whatever happens, I’ll still be the same person at the end of the day.

What does the future hold for you?
I don’t have any long term plans, but later this year I’ll be performing with Opera Australia on their Melbourne season of King Roger; choreographing short works on the youth company Yellow Wheel and St Michaels Grammar School; and at the end of the year will be beginning work on a regional arts project in my hometown of Merimbula, NSW.

Kyall can be seen in the Australian premiere season of the Lord of the Flies at Arts Centre Melbourne: 5 – 9 April 2017. For more information, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.

Image: Kyall Shanks (supplied)