Congratulations to the inaugural PvP fellowship winner!

Congratulations to Stephanie Lake from Melbourne, who has been awarded the first Ausdance Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship. Stephanie was presented with a cheque for $10,000 at the Australian Dance Awards in Perth on Saturday 1 September.

Photos: Bronwyn Kidd

Stephanie has been described as an "outstanding creative individual" by many who are familiar with her body of work over the past 12 years. She has grown from an exceptional student to mature artist and has aquired the skills of collaboration and leadership so vital in working with fellow artists and teaching colleagues and students.

Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2000, Stephanie has been consistently creating and performing new work. With two compositions currently in development, Stephanie is thrilled to receive this fellowship, which will—combined with the support of Lucy Guerin Inc.—give her the financial space and creative freedom to produce her next work as an independent dance maker.

Stephanie's acceptance speech:

Thank you. I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of this Fellowship. A huge thank you to Ausdance and the Peggy van Praagh trust for this validation.

I never met Peggy but I know that her life was completely dedicated to dance and dancers. She was one of the first to recognise that Australian dance was unique and was always seeking ways to nourish the creativity of others. I’m thrilled to be another in a long line of choreographers who have been supported by her.

My own dance life so far has been wonderful, turbulent and consuming. My grade one diary says that I wanted to be either a dancer or a papergirl when I grew up (I’ve always been ambitious…). I thought I invented the ‘jete’ when I was seven, dancing in our basement. But I didn’t take it up seriously until I was in my mid-teens and joined Stompin, and later Tasdance. I got into the Victorian College of the Arts by the skin of my teeth and have been performing and choreographing ever since.

I’m so grateful to have danced for choreographers such as Gideon Obarzanek, Lucy Guerin, Phillip Adams–all huge influences on my own work.  It’s now that I want to focus on my choreographic work, which is scary and uncertain in some ways, but this fellowship goes a long way in confirming that I’m doing the right thing.

The truth is that making pieces brings me the greatest joy. To watch as something grows out of nothing in ways that are so wonderfully unexpected.

Huge thanks to the amazing dancers who have been in my works so far. To Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc, Sydney Dance Company, the VCA, Stompin and many others who have given me choreographic opportunities. To the Australia Council and Arts Victoria. To my ridiculously supportive partner Robin and my beautiful daughters. To my parents who supported my choices whole-heartedly.

I hope to do Dame Peggy proud with the future works that this Fellowship will make possible.

Stephanie Lake