Sammy Ross is a talented and passionate performer who is making waves on the Coffs Coast. Focus went along to her studio to find out more …
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
I was born and bred in Coffs Harbour and grew up here. I was born straight into my mum’s dance studio, Julie Ross Dance Studio, so have been dancing since I was in nappies. I’m a Coffs girl at heart. The coast has my heart; that’s why it made it so easy for me to come back to Coffs to share my creativity and movement.
Can you tell us what it is that you do?
I am a dancer, choreographer and teacher here in Coffs Harbour. I have just opened my own creative space in Coffs Harbour, Social Concepts, at my own studio called The Nest. It is Hip Hop, Urban Based and Creative Movement. I am a professional dancer and have moved back to Coffs to share my creativity. I have been based here for the last four years and am looking to expand Hip Hop, Urban movement in Coffs Harbour.
I have an amazing following of very talented, committed movers who are so passionate about Social Concepts and the Nest, it’s like their second home. It’s more of a family then just a dance space.
Social Concepts is different from a dance studio structure, as it’s more of a laid back creative space. The biggest thing I push for at this space is individuality, making sure everyone owns their own image and steps out of the box of the norm. We definitely push the boundaries of movement and look to open minds and hearts through our free, creative style.
I have dancers from age nine years – 24 years. This space is open to anyone of all abilities and styles. I love people coming to classes who have never danced before; you always find they are the most free and are like a blank canvas to me. They have no training, which is perfect, as you can start them from scratch with their individual style and build them up from nothing. You usually find these movers always end up the most unique, open and creative.
I have classes to cater for everyone, and hope I can get a lot of the Coffs youth a part of this movement and creative space.
How long have you been involved in the industry?
I moved away from Coffs when I was 15 to study full-time dance in Brisbane and got my Diploma in Dance and Performing Arts. I stayed in Brisbane for a year, then moved straight to Sydney when I was 16 and started working in So you Think you can Dance as an assistant choreographer and back up dancer. They were my first professional jobs in the industry, and I have been working in and out of the industry every since.
What do you love most about what you do?
The results of putting my love and time into dancers of this town is so rewarding. Seeing all the improvement people opening up, owning their individuality, is so refreshing.
I find movement to be one of the most open positive outlets of creativity. Using tools that help people release and let go of expectations of how a dancer should look, I believe that it can help people with personal confidence and self esteem in all areas of life. I have such a passion for teaching people about music and hearing more than meets the ear.
I use tools like mind work to expand people’s minds to imagine how they want themselves to look and guide them to manifest that. I feel it is such a privilege to be a mentor and creator; I am always working on myself as a creator and individual, to make sure everything I’m sharing is raw and fresh.
Do you get an adrenalin rush from performing?
You get such a buzz from sharing and performing. I guess I’m most passionate about opening people’s minds and really wanting people to feel something or reflect in what I’ve created.
Outside of performing and dancing, what else do you do?
I have such a passion for videography and photography, and they mould well with what I do. I have a little side project called Heart Space, which I see as healing through the lens with photography and creative dance video concepts. I have been getting a lot of interest in the raw photos I’ve been capturing, and the video concepts are a massive hit on social media. Excited to see where Heart Space is going to go this year. Also, I am absolutely animal CRAZY! I have animals from rabbits, chickens, ducks … I also have two beautiful horses; they are another massive passion of mine that also had a lot to do with me moving back to Coffs.
What work have you been involved in since returning to the local area?
Social Concepts has been lucky enough to share and be a part of so many local performances. Highlights last year include being part of “Dancing with the Stars”, performing with Brendan Graetz. We were lucky enough to come out with the win, and Social Concepts also performed at the event.
We have been a part of local Buskers Festival performing around Coffs, and this was a massive highlight for us last year. We were a part of The Plantation Hotel Scene Saturdays, where we would put on performances, every Saturday night.
I choreographed for local Band Ebb n Flo’s Bump and Grind film clip. We performed for a professional conference at Opal Cove, with outstanding feedback and appreciation. We are so keen to perform in Coffs more this year at so many different events; we have so many different things to offer, so hoping to get the word out there to anyone who wants to book us for entertainment.
Have you travelled much, or are you planning to this year?
As a dancer, movement is constantly evolving and changing, so it’s so important as a teacher to keep learning, training and travelling. I have been lucky enough to train in LA at some of the world’s best studios with well known choreographers. I plan on heading back to LA in the near future for more training and networking with artists of all types.
We have featured your brother a few times in the magazine; has he had much of an influence on you?
My brother has had a massive influence on me in my growth as a dancer and a person. I was lucky enough to have Trav already working in the industry when I moved to Sydney, so it was awesome to work alongside him and do some of his crazy, amazing creative projects. He has had such a massive influence on me in my movement. I have danced alongside him since I was about six. When I was growing up, Trav ran a similar group to what I am now called Groove Lock. Groove Lock had such a massive influence on my life, along with a lot of youth in Coffs, so it definitely inspired me to want to bring that dance community back when I moved home.
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about following a similar path to what you have chosen?
I guess everyone who wants to take the performing arts path has this picture in their head built up of what it’s like, and everyone is always saying they want to “make it”. The thing with this path is, it’s never ending – there is no destination of “making it”. The performing arts journey is a constant, never ending journey. It definitely is a harder path, as there is not a lot of paid work in this country, but I think if you’re passionate enough and want it bad enough, there is room for everyone to share creativity and dance. As much as you might get rejected and feel like you have failed, know that there is a place for everyone in this world and what you want to create for yourself.
Plans for the future?
I plan on travelling a lot more this year. I also plan to bring a lot more artists to Coffs from all over Australia to share with the local community. I am lucky enough to know so many amazing artists in this country, and I feel The Nest is a door that could open up a lot of opportunities for local youth and anyone who wants to be a part of the creative process. I hope to travel with Social Concepts and get Coffs on the map this year. We are currently working on a new show called Beyond The Woods, which will be showcased at the Jetty Theatre at some point this year. It is a mash up of troubled toxic fairy tale characters with a twist; half the show is live, half the show is film. We hope to complete this and tour it around Australia.
To follow upcoming movements:
You can find me on Facebook and Instagram
Insta – sammyjaneross
You can find Social Concepts on Facebook and Instagram www.facebook.com/SocialConceptsCoffs/
Insta – social.concepts