It’s make or break in new docuseries Dance Life… just ask choreographer Cassie Bartho

Prime Video's new show exposes the ins and outs of making it in the dance world.
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When choreographer Cassie Bartho begins to scan the room during auditions for a coveted spot in her ‘Jazz 1’ class, she’s looking for one thing among the hopeful full-time Brent Street students. “I want a yes man,” the choreographer explains to WHO magazine. “The person that just gives you everything, no matter what.”

In the upcoming docuseries Dance Life – which is currently streaming on Prime Video (where you can also watch the must-see movie of the year, Saltburn) – viewers watch on as a group of talented young artists embark on the prestigious performing arts school’s popular program. And seeing them pivoting and pirouetting around the dance floor as they get graded for Bartho’s commercial jazz class in their first few days, it’s clear that the pressure is already intense. “There could be only five people that really make it this year,” Bartho explains in the docuseries. 

Dancers pose in new docuseries DanceLife
The competition is fierce in new docuseries, Dance Life (Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video)

As one of the most sought after commercial choreographers in Australia right now, Bartho is in high demand Down Under. But it’s at her “second home” of Brent Street, where she herself underwent the gruelling full-time dance course at the tender age of 16, that she has found her calling as the Creative and Training Assistant – overseeing all creative aspects of the renowned performing arts course.

“Brent Street’s like the best of the best,” she explains of Australia’s elite dance school, which has trained more working performers than any other institution in Australia. “I worked at a lot of places for a long time but became exclusive to Brent Street a couple of years ago and I just love investing in the same kids … following their journeys – not just having an hour a week with them. The talent that comes to Brent Street, it’s just like next level. I kind of wouldn’t really want to go anywhere else at this point.”

The feeling is mutual for her students, with one even admitting Bartho is “literally like God to me”. “When I’m auditioning kids and I’m interviewing them, I say, ‘Why do you want to come to Brent Street?’ And they go, ‘I want Cassie to train me,” admits Brent Street owner and Managing & Creative Director, Lucas Newland. “They know that they’re going to get that commercial jazz edge from Cassie.”

Dance Life star Cassie Bartho
Bartho is in high demand at Brent Street (Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video)

Having danced with the likes of Dua Lipa (who’s currently dating new Hollywood heartthrob Callum Turner), Katy Perry and Sam Smith, Bartho has had quite the performing career herself. However, she knew where her heart truly laid from early on. “I’ve always loved dance, but I’ve always known that I want to choreograph and teach more,” she explains. “But you kind of just have to bide your time a little bit and pay your dues … I had to be a dancer first to then be able to have the knowledge to be able to teach and pass on.”

And while the students battle it out for a spot in her top tier class, Bartho admits she is feeling pressure of her own. “I like to do a good job. I like to make sure that every single kid feels seen, feels recognised and like I’m living up to their expectations. So yeah, it is a little bit of pressure,” she concedes. “It’s actually now seeing the show that I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realise how much it affects them.’ So it’s been a bit of an eye-opening experience for me to be like, ‘OK, I need to really make sure that I’m doing a good job because it’s important.’ I kind of feel like I have [these kids’ lives] in my hands, so I just want to do everything I possibly can to make them get where they want to get.”

Dancers perform in new docuseries Dance Life
There’s a lot at stake in the full-time year at Brent Street studios (Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video)

With 90 per cent of the working commercial dancers in Australia trained at Brent Street from the very same course, the group in Dance Life are certainly in good hands. However, there’s no denying that it’s make or break. “The physical and mental tax that it puts on your body is just … it’s next level,” Bartho confesses. “It’s just, it’s brutal for them, but very rewarding for those that get through it.”

And it’s clear there’s no other place the students would rather be. “This is where your dreams come true,” shares one.

Where to watch Dance Life in Australia? 

Stream Dance Life now on Prime Video with a 30-day free trial. Subscribe here.

Prime Video link

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