Dance Advice

How to succeed in full time dance: Advice from The Australian Ballet School

By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.

The Australian Ballet School’s audition tour starts next month, and I know many of you might be interested in auditioning and taking the plunge into full time ballet training. But if you’re lucky enough to be accepted, what are you going to do to make sure you succeed? Here Dance Informa speaks to The Australian Ballet School to gain helpful insight into how you can make the most of your full time dance training.

What do you expect from your full time students in terms of etiquette, attendance, hard work, etc.?

All students are expected to behave responsively and courteously at all times and to conduct themselves in a manner that the School considers upholds the reputation and orderly functioning of the national school and its activities.

All students at The Australian Ballet School, from Levels 1-8 are required to acknowledge the class teacher and pianist before and at the conclusion of each class by way of a reverence (bow/curtsey). This same acknowledgement is also required if the Director, a staff member or visitor attends the class.

Australian Ballet School. Photo by John Tsiavis

Students at The Australian Ballet School. Photo by John Tsiavis.

Students must acknowledge staff and visitors in the corridors of the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre. This same respect is expected in relation to dancers and staff of The Australian Ballet.

Particular attention is paid to grooming and the wearing of the School uniform. Each of the eight year levels has its own colour.

Theatre etiquette is learned in each year level through performances at the State Theatre each year and, in the graduate class, Level 8, through the Dancers Company tour, which is an integrated part of The Australian Ballet.

How can a student stand out in class or rehearsal?

Appearance is a good place to start. Being well groomed and having an open personality, shows that a student has pride in themselves and a readiness to learn.

The ability to quickly gather information and eagerness to apply are traits that attract the attention of teachers, choreographers and directors. As is willingness to persevere even if something is challenging.

Body language is important too. For example, you can show that you’re listening and fully engaged in the learning process by using eye contact and facing the teacher or choreographer when they’re talking to you.

The Australian Ballet School

Photo by Sergey Konstantinov.

Sound dance technique and good physical condition are the keys to safe dancing. Pure alignment and clean technique maximise your dance potential, while a strong, fit, healthy body resists stresses that can cause injury.

However, if you do get an injury, don’t make it any worse! Stop what you are doing and ask for advice before returning to dancing. Listen to those who are trained to help you, such as teachers, physiotherapists and doctors, because they can help you get back to doing what you love best – dancing!

If a student were struggling physically or emotionally with the demands of the course, what would your advice be?

Vocational training isn’t easy, and wise students seek individual support when they feel out of their depth. Often, a change in physical or mental approach, or simply relaxing a little, can overcome seemingly impossible challenges. Teachers and physiotherapists can advise you on whether your body will eventually be able to achieve what you want, and counsellors can help you deal with any decisions you may need to make. Basically, dancing must make you happy, even though it can be difficult, frustrating and tiring at times.

The Australian Ballet School

Photo by Sergey Konstantinov

What do you think a graduating student would wish they had known when they commenced their full time course?

Our 2014 School Captains answered this one for future Australian Ballet School students: “Utilise every aspect of the School – from the health team to the artistic staff, each individual is highly qualified and knowledgeable and help us in every way that they can. Although five years may seem like a long time, it really flashes by before your eyes”.

Any other general tips or advice?

Sometimes your long-term goal to reach the dance profession can seem a long way away and at times you may even feel that it’s never going to happen. So while it’s important to focus on those short-term training goals, don’t lose sight of your dreams.

It’s ok to stop dancing if it’s not what you want. Sometimes dance students only see themselves as ‘a dancer’ and so giving it away can be very scary. “If I’m not a dancer, than who am I?” But if you do stop dancing, you may be surprised at what else comes into your life and you’ll probably discover that there’s a lot more to you than being ‘a dancer’.

In the next edition we speak with Ev & Bow.

If you’re interested in full time dance, make sure to check out Dance Informa’s 2014 Full Time Dance & Auditions Guide: The 2015 Guide will be released in July.

Photo (top): Students of The Australian Ballet School. Photo by Sergey Konstantinov. Photos courtesy of The Australian Ballet School. 

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