Cam Newell – Artistic Director
Miss Cam commenced classical ballet tuition at the age of 3 years (she still has her first pair of ballet shoes!) and her early ballet training was in the Vaganova style. Her first teachers were Sara Neil and Walter Trevor, former soloists with Sadler’s Wells Ballet, who later taught at Royal Ballet School. Her first soloist role in a ballet was at 4 years as a bumble bee – and she’s been bumbling around the stage ever since.
She was awarded a scholarship to study classical ballet at what was then the National School of Ballet (now New Zealand School of Dance) where she studied under Valerie Bayley, Anne Rowse, Rowena Jackson and Phillip Chatfield, completing her RAD Major examinations during her first year. As part of her studies she attended speech and drama classes with Nola Millar. In 1973 she graduated as the “Most Improved Dancer” with a unique Diploma as both a dancer and teacher (then known as a Craftsman’s Course).
Miss Cam danced with NZ Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet for the “Giselle” tour and performed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Miss Cam has been involved in ballet, drama and musical theatre from the time she could put one foot in front of the other, from Rebecca in “Our Town” at age 12 to performing in yearly pantomimes and musicals, as a lead dancer in “West Side Story” at age 15 (also understudying the rôle of “Anybody’s”) and during the following year as “Leisl” in “The Sound of Music” (being the youngest girl to perform the rôle at that time). She also danced in the “pas de six” in “The Student Prince” with choreography by former Royal Ballet soloist, Phillip Markham. She appeared in various television series and commercials for print media.
A last minute audition for Arthur’s Cabaret saw her appointed as dance captain in “Pardon our French” a show (a la Moulin Rouge or Bluebells) which ran for 3 months (a big deal in 1974!) and she was then asked to work as a solo dancer on the television show “Ready to Roll”, both of which were choreographed by former Black & White Minstrel’s soloist, Howard Neil. In 1976 she auditioned for David Smiles, Director of “Four Season’s Theatre” and secured the rôle of the Storyteller for their touring troupe: “Children’s Art Theatre”, presenting a combined theatrical experience at various primary schools (a very early precursor to the educational ensembles now in evidence through national and state companies). She also seconded to play “Jill” in “Equus” during that contract, to critical acclaim. She often reflects on her weekly pay during those years, which was ~$50, and yes, that was for a week!
Her return to musical theatre was prompted when she was invited to choreograph “How to succeed in business without really trying”, but with it came the additional responsibility of understudying the rôle of “Smitty” (which she performed for 5 consecutive nights – the first night with 1 hours’ notice). She stills wonders how, as a 23 year old, she convinced dancers and actors more than twice her age to do as instructed. However, she was privileged to work with and was ably supported by the director Stuart Devenie, a successful actor in his own right and a talented director. She also choreographed for Kevin Rush in his original musical “Reflections”, again stepping into the lead rôle at the last minute; she was then asked to join as dance captain for “Dames at Sea” again with director Howard Neil, under the musical direction of Ross Alley and working alongside many talented performers, such as Jan Russ.
With a return to the ballet studio, students under Miss Cam’s tutelage have enjoyed success with their RAD examinations, all of whom passed with Distinction or Merit. During her time in Toowoomba, she has been asked to provide classical classes at various studios during teachers’ absences, including repetiteur duties for rehearsals and has danced at various end-of-year performances.
Miss Cam now joins the National Conservatoire Ballet Company as Artistic Director, where she will conduct technical classes, coach all levels, rehearse choreography and prepare company members for performances. As an adjunct to her classical ballet teaching duties, she has also qualified as a Progressing Ballet Technique teacher with Marie Walton-Mahon, a methodology which will be included as part of the National Conservatoire Ballet Company’s training programme.