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Dance, Camera, Action! Ivan's Inspired Journey to Film and TV in Perth

Photo credit Perth City Ballet (Ivan Tarakanov and Dominique Waldron)


Russian ballet dancer Ivan Tarakanov is fulfilling his creative passions through studying a Diploma of Screen and Media with TAFE International WA. Learn about his extraordinary global journey, and how it has led him to Perth.

Where are you from and when did you move to Perth?

Originally from Russia, I have had the pleasure of visiting Perth on numerous occasions before eventually becoming a student. The first time was in 2016, for a ballet audition for the principal position with the Western Australian Ballet. Since the age of 10, I had professional training in ballet at the very prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy(opens in a new tab) in Petersburg. During my visits to Perth, I had the privilege of connecting with prominent figures in the Western Australian ballet community, including Sergey Pevnev, from Pevnev Ballet Academy and Diana Waldron. I was very lucky to be able to return here to teach master dance classes, choregraph and collaborate in several productions over that time.

What were you doing before coming to Perth?

Ivan, mountains in background

After completing my degree in philosophy in Russia back in 2017, I embarked on an extraordinary journey across the globe, showcasing my talents as a ballet dancer in the USA, Japan, Italy and Israel. I enjoy ballet however I wanted to do something with it rather than just do pure dance on its own. I am passionate about film making and the choreography involved, and studied film making at the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts (RSIPA) for two and a half years. Before moving here, I had some great ideas for film projects that I was keen to undertake, especially with the profound impact of the war in Ukraine, and the lack of freedom of expression and restrictions back home on an artistic level, so this really fueled my desire to express myself creatively in a new environment.

What course are you studying and why did you choose this course? 

In July 2023 I completed the CUA31020 Certificate III in Screen and Media and am currently studying the CUA51020 Diploma of Screen and Media (Film and TV)  at North Metropolitan TAFE Perth campus. I also plan to continue with the advanced diploma next year.

I enjoy the practical learning approach at TAFE, which is a contrast to the theory-based learning and disconnect from industry practices I experienced in Russia. Here it's much more industry oriented which I like very much as I find it interesting and useful. I am able to work hands on with different cameras, sound kits and many different types of modern film equipment.  Even at the certificate level we were given tasks to expand on our project ideas and work with all the equipment, and the flexibility to do more intricate work, and think outside the box. One example is that we had to present a breaking news task for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, however with my lecturer’s permission I turned it into a 3-minute short film. I had great support from my lecturers including Anne Liedel and Brendon Humphries. Brendon kindly acted in this project also.

What are the best things about your lecturers?

I’m fortunate to have received very strong support from my lecturers, who encourage us to explore our own creativity without limitations or constraints. We are also able to work on our own projects that are not strictly connected to the course however still part of screen and media field. I chose to allocate my time to create multimedia assets for a production called “A Tree we Grew” and pitched that idea to the class. This was a collaboration production with Valery Niazov. Valery came up with the original idea and wrote the music score, and I was the director of the production. Although this production was not a TAFE project (with 30 dancers, a choir and musicians) my idea was supported by my lecturer and classmates. My classmates made approximately 20 clips that were used in the production. Many classmates also assisted me with camera work, appearing on screen, and North Metropolitan TAFE helped with providing facilities and equipment. My lecturer Brendon Humphries was once again so incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the whole process.

I think that TAFE lecturers are very open minded, share their knowledge and also are willing to listen and communicate with their students, so real dialogue is possible. I think this is crucial for a meaningful student experience. When we produced a project called “Breaking news” we had so much fun creating the short movie and our lecturers Anne and Brendon appeared in it as actors.

What has impressed you about the facilities on your campus?

The campus itself is wonderful with a variety of different areas we can use for film shoots. There are different options and spaces available, and for filmmakers this is essential I believe. The Mac laboratories are excellent for editing, and we have access to equipment to enhance your skills as you learn more. I am very excited about the short films ranging from one to two minutes, blending writing and the camera - an ideal creative outlet for aspiring artists.

What are your plans for the future?

I am thrilled to be working on a project, that was a dream for me and I am lucky to also receive great support from my lecturers for this. It is a production that incorporates theatre, drama, dance and multimedia. It is based on Rudolf Nureyev, a controversial figure but one of the greatest dancers and choreographers in history.

I also entered a documentary film to a global film and musical festival in the USA that has been selected into the program of the festival and into the final of "Orion International Film Festival” founded in Australia and is also screening in Berlin. The name of my documentary is “Follow my voice”.

My dream is to one day produce feature films and music videos. Studying at TAFE helps me to get the knowledge that I need make that dream a reality.

How do you find living in Perth?

Living in Perth offers me the perfect blend of urban convenience and natural beauty. I enjoy being close to the beach and yet also close to forest areas. Though public transport presents a challenge sometimes, Perth is a good city to live in. In my leisure time I like to watch movies, swim in the ocean, play guitar and see my friends. I have met lots of nice people while living here.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I would like to offer some advice based on my own experiences. It's crucial to be financially prepared before embarking on an international student journey. While having a dream is undoubtedly inspiring, it's equally important to consider the financial implications thoroughly.

If filmmaking is your innermost desire but you lack extensive experience, starting at a certificate level can be an excellent way to gauge your aptitude and chart a course toward your dream career.


Last updated on May 9, 2024