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New junior youth company Ballet de Jeune twirls into Tasmania

Commencing in March this year, Un Tour de Jeune Masterclass Series brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Tasmania and Victoria through monthly classical classes for young dancers. Students have the opportunity to train with elite dancers and teachers, as well as audition for Ballet de Jeune, a junior ballet company to be established at the conclusion of the masterclass series. Successful students from both states will then perform together in a number of cities and regional centres in Tasmania and Victoria.

Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

The Un Tour de Jeune Masterclass Series has been developed to promote, encourage and augment young dancers with the opportunity to enhance their technical abilities, as well as their artistic and performing skills. 

The masterclasses will be held in three levels: Le Petit Classe (for approximately eight- to nine-year-olds studying Grade 2-3 [RAD or equivalent]), Le Jeune Classe (for approximately 10-12-year-olds studying Grade 4 [Inter Foundation RAD or equivalent] and Le Avance Classe (for approximately 13-year-olds and over studying Inter and above [RAD or equivalent]).

The upper age limit is 22 years of age; however, dancers of outstanding ability either younger than eight or older than 22 may be invited to participate.

Originally an international touring masterclass series established in 1996 by Shelley Dykstra, Brian Nolan has taken over the helm as director and répétiteur, with Dykstra remaining as managing director. A former dancer with The Australian Ballet and one of Australia’s elite dance teachers, Nolan shares with Dance Informa about Ballet de Jeune and the masterclass series.

What was the motivation behind establishing Ballet de Jeune?

“It had always been in the back of my mind to create a junior ballet company. Then a few years ago after going to watch a students I was training perform with a Melbourne-based junior company, I thought, ‘I could do much better than that,’ and it played on my mind. Several teachers from various schools were in attendance at the performance, and basically, we all said in conversation that we could do better. One teacher in particular (Lainie Farello from FlashDance studios) kept encouraging me to do it, and after a lot of thinking and a few years later, I finally embarked on this idea I’ve had for 20 years.”

Who is involved with Ballet de Jeuene?

Kevin Jackson with Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

Kevin Jackson with Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

“It was decided that if a junior ballet company was to be formed, then the idea was for it to be as professional as possible with (ideally) everyone involved to be as professional as possible. I wanted very experienced staff and not someone who has graduated from a full-time course a few years ago, and I am very happy that all staff members are either current or former members of The Australian Ballet, The Australian Ballet School or international companies of repute.

Staff includes Dance Ambassador Colin Peasley (The Australian Ballet), Ballet Master Kevin Jackson (Principal Dancer, The Australian Ballet), Ballet Mistress Terese Power (The Australian Ballet), Choreologist/teacher Barbara Nimmo (The Australian Ballet School), Director/Choreologist/teacher Brian Nolan (The Australian Ballet) and Managing Director Shelley Dykstra (international dance teacher). There will also be guest classes from other notable dancers and teachers.”

What will Ballet de Jeune and the masterclass series offer dance students?

“My motto is ‘never forget where the student comes from,’ as such respect to the teachers is a priority. I want teachers to be able to send students for either the extra training with the masterclasses or the company itself and not be worried that they could lose the student(s) via poaching or luring to changing schools due to the company’s affiliation with specific schools. Ballet de Jeune is an independent company that seeks to enhance the training that students are already receiving.

The company will and can provide the following:

Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

1. The expertise and professionalism of the teaching staff is the key to the establishment and progression of both the technical and artistic elements of the students in training. The Ballet de Jeune and Un Tour de Force Masterclass Series has been developed to meet the needs of the young and aspiring dancer. 

2. The classes are ‘open’ classes and are not associated to any set syllabi; therefore, any student can attend.

3. Ballet de Jeune and Un Tour de Force seeks to assist the teacher and/or dancer with extra classes and performance opportunites. 

4. Teachers can send their students to receive coaching competitions or auditions or specific coaching with pirouettes, jumps and so on.

5. Students can attend the masterclasses at any time without audition and can continue participating in the classes alone without joining Ballet de Jeune.

6. Audition for the Ballet de Jeune and have the opportunity to perform and be part of the Company in two states – Victoria and Tasmania.

7. Be part of a company that selects every role, from principal to corps de ballet, from within the company with no outside dancers.

8. Perform real ballets as close as possible to original choreography, which would be adapted and not be subjected to pantomime ballets. (I can’t wait to try Swan Lake Act 2 on juniors.)

Kevin Jackson and Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

Kevin Jackson and Ballet de Jeune. Photo by Brian Nolan.

9. To be given the opportunity to be part of and perform in new choreographic works.

10. Ballet de Jeune is a true junior company with the ages ranging from eight to approximately 19 years.

Anyone can book the masterclasses through Trybooking or go to Ballet de Jeune on Facebook for information or to ask a question: www.facebook.com/Ballet-de-Jeune-167997130698350/For more information or to sponsor Ballet de Jeune, please email Brian Nolan at dance_bnad@live.com. Auditions for the company will be posted on Facebook and on the website.

By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.

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