So you’ve successfully navigated auditions, selected a full time school, organised your dancewear, possibly moved out of home and are ready to take the next steps towards a career in dance. Now what? How do you jete over hurdles, avoid injuries, stay motivated, and get the most out of your experience? Dance Informa has spoken to some of Australia’s most prominent full time dance schools and we are here to share some words of wisdom. This edition we are starting with Melbourne’s Todd Patrick of Patrick Studios Australia.
What do you expect from your full time students in terms of etiquette, attendance, and hard work?
“Manners are top of our list for all students training at PSA. Our courses are extremely demanding and we only take students of the highest calibre that are highly motivated, competitive, respectful and dedicated.
Attendance is also expected to be 100%, just like you would expect if you were working professionally. PSA is run like a professional musical or dance company so that students are prepared for their careers. It’s a very select few who are accepted into our programs. We look for potential partnered with a great attitude. Hardworking is just an expected trait for any PSA student!”
How can a student stand out in class or rehearsal?
“By working hard and listening to what the choreographers and directors are asking for. Great students pay attention to the detail!
Get to the front and understudy roles or acts that you are not in. Take initiative, do your homework and be prepared.”
What is your advice for preventing and dealing with injuries?
“Fitness! Injuries often come when dancers are tired or unfit. We have a full gym and Pilates studio at PSA. We design programs that focus on strength and flexibility to develop our dancers’ weaknesses but also for rehab and conditioning – to get the dancers back into the studios as fast as possible.
For our students majoring in music theatre their voices are their instruments so we have vocal coaches and throat specialists checking and working on preventing injuries with them constantly throughout their training.”
If a student were struggling physically or emotionally with the demands of the course, what would your advice be?
“It would depend on the student’s personality and the nature of the issue. I teach every day at PSA as do all my directors including Andrew Hallsworth who directs our music theatre program. By being present everyday we get to know our students inside out and learn their strengths and weaknesses. In most cases a quick chat addressing all issues head on and by goal setting with realistic expectations from the students, we are able to set them back on the right path.
PSA courses are particularly demanding. It’s widely known that it you want to be pushed then it’s the place to be, so we now find that we attract a certain type of student. We had only one student drop out of the 1st year Performing Arts course last year and that was because they weren’t aware of our type of training and didn’t know what to expect.”
What do you think a graduating student would wish they had known when they commenced their full time course?
“That it goes so incredibly fast! That you must seize each day because before you know it, the training opportunity is gone. The other point is that dancers these days must be actors and singers and vice versa, in order to have greater employment opportunities. We encourage all our dancers to pick up vocal and drama electives. Train in all areas of performing arts so that you are multi talented and can audition for everything an agent sends you for!”
Any other general tips or advice?
“Don’t expect to love every day! It’s unrealistic to believe that you will love training five days a week, each and every class. It’s tough and vigorous and some days you’ll hate being there. Olympic athletes don’t love every session of swimming or being in the gym lifting heavy weights in the early part of the morning. What they do love is their sport and they have an end goal they are reaching for. Much the same for artists! Everyday is hard and tiring, class after class. But if you love to perform, keep that in mind on a cold Melbourne morning when you’re in the gym or in a ballet class. Know, just like an athlete, without the years of hard, intense training there are no medals, and without the training it’s nearly impossible to get a contract in a musical, play, cruise ship, film or company.
A fully rounded course is your golden ticket to an emotionally and financially rewarding career.”
In the next editions we speak with Ev & Bow, New Zealand School of Dance and The Australian Ballet School.
If you’re interested in full time dance, make sure to check out Dance Informa’s Full Time Dance & Auditions Guide: www.danceinforma.com.au/full-time-dance-auditions-guide
By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.