NIDA’s Head of Voice: ‘we need to embrace our voice and what we have to say in the world’
Each month we're catching up with a different Head of Department at NIDA, to show you the artist behind the creative leader. April is the turn of NIDA’s Head of Voice, Katerina Moraitis.
Photo: Katerina leads a voice session at NIDA.
When a teacher is driven by something that is greater than themselves – the desire to equip and change a class, country or perhaps the world – nothing can stop them.
For NIDA’s Head of Voice, Katerina Moraitis, the above statement perfectly harmonises with her own approach to teaching. A philosophy she readily imparts on her Master of Fine Arts (Voice) cohorts, who go on to take up positions such as voice coaches and teachers in the performing arts and in corporate contexts. After all, it is the change in others that one exacts as a teacher that really counts.
‘It’s not about you, this work is about others. If you allow yourself to think of this as a journey of passion and a journey of change, then you will be able to make change in people’s voices across the globe,’ said Katerina.
Katerina’s drive to develop the voices and teaching abilities of her students emanates from a desire to improve the vocal identity and effectiveness of Australians. Katerina does this daily at NIDA, working with both MFA (Voice) students and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) students.
‘One of the reasons I wake up and come to work every day is to help make the voices of Australians in the performing arts more effective today. It’s one of the things that drives me. But it’s also about creativity and imagination, and allowing the stories of Australia to be told. We are a multi-cultural nation with so many stories to tell, and that is another factor that drives me – telling our stories, through voice and body.’
Her journey to NIDA
Her own journey to becoming a Head of Department at NIDA began when she was younger, but not because she was a student here.
‘I came to an Open Day at NIDA at a very young age. My dad and I looked around the whole school and the thing I remember most was being up in rehearsal room two. The Head of Acting at the time was doing a workshop with one of the actors. He was saying “change, change, change” and every time he said “change” the actor had to change tactic and how they were saying the line. From then on I was hooked and wanted to come and study at NIDA.’
Despite her initial determination to study here, Katerina ended up undertaking her training away from NIDA, but her desire to come back remained strong.
‘I became Course Leader of the MFA (Voice) course at London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) – one of the top drama schools in the world. But I realised that Australia is home, and that I wanted to work with not only Australian actors and voice practitioners, but the best Australian actors and voice practitioners. I also wanted to work with a team of people who I knew were at a high level of training in conservatoire.’
‘I wanted to come back with what I’d learned in the UK and America and tell people how awesome Australians are. We are the new forward-thinking generation and we need to embrace our voice and what we have to say in the world as actors. I waited for the job at NIDA specifically, and it was 13 years before it became available,’ she said.
Her 2017 cohort of MFA (Voice) students have recently completed collaborations and placements before they graduate in May, working with top institutions across the world such as Carnegie Mellon University, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and also with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and University of California.
As a teacher so heavily invested in her students and their outcomes, the day they leave NIDA and what they go onto do in the industry is one of the most fulfilling parts of the job.
‘One of our students has just landed a job in Sydney Theatre School. Last year our students were working with Sydney Theatre Company, some of them are now working at NIDA with me. The proudest moments I have as a course leader are when I see my students working and highly functioning in the industry as colleagues.’
Becoming a Master teacher
Katerina is in the midst of becoming a Master teacher of Lessac Kinesensic Training, for which she was invited by the Lessac Master Council because of her expertise in the area. She is one year away from receiving one of the highest accreditations in voice teaching, in addition to her current certifications.
Her current project is a Lessac Intensive, which will run here at NIDA over three weeks in July–August 2018.
‘For the intensive, I’ll be working with renowned voice coach and Lessac expert Nancy Krebbs. It’s an immersive, holistic actor and voice practitioner training. It incorporates voice and body and is about training the innate qualities of the body, things that we do naturally and organically and in a sense tuning them for creative expression. During the workshop we will work on text, body, voice and will be really allowing ourselves to experience these energy qualities that we can tune for creative expression.’
For more information about studying a Master of Fine Arts (Voice), visit nida.edu.au/courses/graduate/voice