Tips From The Pros...
Since graduating from Brent Street School of Performing Arts in 2004, James Maxfield has performed in many musical productions including Wicked, Grease – The Arena Spectacular, Hugh Jackman's The Boy From Oz, Sweet Charity, Miss Saigon, Alcina, Carmen, A Chorus Line, The Rocky Horror Show, Dirty Dancing, Xanadu and most recently My Fair Lady for Opera Australia.
As a commercial dancer, James has toured internationally with Ke$ha and Samantha Jade, and has performed live with Taylor Swift, Rita Ora, Kylie Minogue, Kelly Clarkson, Havana Brown, Ricky Martin, Delta Goodrem, Loreen, Little Mix, Fergie, Redfoo, Sneaky Sound System and Wynter Gordon. He has numerous TV dance credits including Australia's Got Talent, Dancing With The Stars and has been a resident dancer for X Factor Australia for 3 seasons and toured with the live show. James is an original Australian cast member for Motown show, Soul Mates, developed by Human Nature.
What was the last song you danced to?
The last song I did a proper dance to was "Church On Time" from My Fair Lady as I'm currently in rehearsals for the Opera Australian production.
The last song I danced to for fun was "Gold Watch" - Fleur East. In the living room with a few friends after a few drinks haha. SUCH a good song. If you haven't heard it - I recommend giving it a listen, guaranteed good time!
Best job/ artist you’ve worked for?
To be honest I can't actually pick a best job or artist that I have worked with because all of them have been so memorable, instead I'm going to say the job that I learnt the most on and gained so much experience out of was A Chorus Line. I learnt so much about my body, maintaining a role 8 shows a week and finding the confidence to stand alone and tell a story. The show tells such an important story that every dancer that has ever auditioned for a show can relate to and it was the first show to finally give chorus members a voice. Plus, I don't think I will ever be as fit as I was when doing this show, it was definitely one of the best gym memberships I've ever had!
What makes a good performer?
I think the difference between a performer and a good performer is their acting ability. As Dancers, Singers or Actors, we are ultimately story tellers. It's all well and good to stand on stage and smile and perform a dance number or sing a song, but it’s the ones that tell a story and who are truly invested in what they are performing that are the ones that people remember.
What is your favorite style of dance?
Anything within the Jazz style, whether it be Commercial Jazz or Broadway Jazz. I grew up training in it, so it's very much mechanically inbuilt into my body and just feels right. With that being said, I LOVE watching good hip hop, I'm just not physically well versed in the style.
What do you think is lacking in our dance industry?
I wouldn't say we are lacking too much in our industry, more work is always good. But I do think we are lacking a strong Union that protects us when it comes to wages, schedules, proper breaks, travel per dimes, fittings etc. That would be nice to see.
What do you think the main difference is between the Australian and American dance industry?
When it comes to choice, I think there are more shows over in the states and of course bigger artists and much more to audition for in LA and NYC. And they also have a very strong Dancers Alliance/Equity over there that really protects their performers. When it comes to the quality of performers though, I would say we are 100% On Par with the American Industry!
Best piece of advise you were given/heard?
Kelley Abbey once told me in full time - You never stop learning. This has stuck with me my whole career. There is always something to learn on every gig, every show, every rehearsal and every audition. I am 13 years into my career and there is always something new for me to learn, and I believe that is what has kept me in work. I am always trying to better myself as a performer and the more I know, the more choice of work I have within the industry.
What would you say to people trying to make it in the industry?
Learn from every knock back! Never take a "No" as a negative. Find out why something didn't work in the room, go away and improve on it as much as you can. I have learnt more from NOT booking a job than I have booking a job. Of course there's some things that can't be changed, for example certain looks and heights, but going back and working on the things that didn't work for you, I think, is one of the best things that will help you maintain a long and healthy career.