For her debut as artistic director of the three-week arts extravaganza, Olivia Ansell has sought to tap into the city’s stories, including a strong First Nations component. In many ways it seems as if Olivia Ansell’s whole life has been preparing her to become artistic director of the Sydney Festival. Her great-grandfather and grandfather were both circus masters, her maternal grandmother was an opera singer and performer on the Tivoli circuit, and her paternal grandmother was a classical violinist.
The next generation was in the arts, too. Ansell’s father was a jazz musician and composer, responsible for the ABC’s TV news theme from 1985 onwards, among other compositions, and her mother was a choreographer, dancer and dance teacher.
Even at her home in Sydney’s Gymea Bay, Ansell lived and breathed the performing arts, with a recording studio downstairs and a dance and theatre rehearsal studio in the backyard. “I was encouraged to study as many types of performing arts as possible, but also with caution,” Ansell says. “My parents would have loved me to be a lawyer or scientist, but you can’t have all that stimulation around you and not grow a love for the arts yourself.”
It was dance that she loved the most, however – to the extent she would set off for Danebank Anglican School for Girls each morning, only to secretly end up at the Bodenweiser Dance Centre in Chippendale. Even when she transferred to the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in year 11, she lasted only a term. “I’d run from Newtown to Bodenweiser’s, so eventually my parents said I could study dance full-time as long as I completed my HSC by correspondence,” she laughs.
Read the Full Article at Australian Financial Review.