Well-travelled dancer

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Chrissie Parrott, of Nannup, will bring her decades of dance experience to the Southern Stage Performing Arts Studio this month.
Camera IconChrissie Parrott, of Nannup, will bring her decades of dance experience to the Southern Stage Performing Arts Studio this month. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Young Manjimup dancers will reap the rewards of decades of dance when a Nannup woman starts giving lessons later this month.

Chrissie Parrott will this month begin giving ballet and contemporary dance lessons at Southern Stage Performing Arts Studio.

The multiple award-winning dancer and choreographer has been dancing since she was about four years old and she pestered her mother to take ballet lessons.

“It was very formal but I loved it, I remember my first day — we had little white tunics and red cross-over knitted tops,” Chrissie said.

“I did a lot of ballet and took all my exams and then changed schools and learnt tap-dancing, Irish and Scottish dancing.”

Chrissie and her family came to Australia when she was 10 years old, where she pursued her ballet career more seriously, taking lessons with internationally renowned ballerina Kira Bousloff OAM.

“I never went down the jazz dancing route, but I did continue also learning tap-dancing,” Chrissie said.

“For me, ballet was an everyday thing to do and I loved it.”

Her passion for ballet took a professional turn when she was 17 and she auditioned for the West Australian Ballet, where she was accepted as a student dancer and then became a professional dancer when she was 19.

Chrissie took a chance when she was 21 and moved to London, where she auditioned for several ballet companies and chose the one that was doing Swan Lake and whose patron was Grace Kelly. “We toured all through the Black Forest, all through Denmark, over to Austria,” she said.

“It was absolutely amazing, it was three months of touring and I was one of the little swans.”

After returning to London, Chrissie decided to move back to Australia and found the West Australian Ballet had started inviting in contemporary choreographers.

She received a special scholarship from the Arts Council of Western Australia and moved to the Eastern States to learn how to be a choreographer.

She then went to a company in Sydney, which began a tour in London.

“I split from there and stayed in Europe, which is when my big European career began,” Chrissie said.

“And by then, I was 25.”

Over the years, she has been to Venice, Germany, through Europe and Sweden, where she met her husband and had a son.

“We came back to Australia because we were in Stockholm when Chernobyl blew and we decided to come home, which is also what my husband wanted to do,” Chrissie said.

From 1986-96, Chrissie ran her own company, the Chrissie Parrott Dance Company, which she said was successful.

“We’d learnt quite a lot in Europe and what we had to offer was quite fresh,” she said.

It was during this time Chrissie also started teaching at the Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts.

Her career as a dancer, lecturer, choreographer and arts festival director, theatre TV and film director, set and costume designer, multimedia and animation teacher, and large-scale digital artwork creator has earned Chrissie many awards over the years.

She has been awarded the Sidney Myer performing arts award, the Swan Gold award, the Sounds Australia award, the 2000 Western Australian citizen of the year, and in 2014 she received a lifetime achievement gong through Ausdance WA and in 2015 was honoured as a State living treasure.

And now that living treasure will be teaching in Manjimup, starting on August 15.

“Here I am in the autumn of the life, still willing and physically able to work with some younger people and impart some of my knowledge and skills over to them,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to sharing what I know with some young dancers.”

Chrissie encouraged any young child who wanted to learn to dance to come along.

The Southern Stage Performing Arts Studio is based at the Macedonian Hall on Ipsen Street, and has a Facebook page.

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