By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.
“Teaching is touching lives forever,” says Jacqui Dumont.
“We should always be mindful of how we touch our students’ lives – and give them knowledge, guidance and confidence, not only to reach their best potential but to feel good about themselves.” A former professional dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Ms. Dumont is now a highly qualified and respected freelance dance teacher with over 30 years experience.
It’s clear that she loves her work, and that passion is an obvious driver; Dumont’s curriculum vitae to date is staggering. She has held posts as the Principal of The Royal Ballet School’s Outreach Programme, as an Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance, and as Executive Officer of The Australian Ballet School’s Teacher Training Programme for Professional Dancers and Practicing Teachers. That’s to name just a few.
At the time we spoke, Dumont had just returned from a dance teachers’ conference held by the IDTC in London, and was preparing to work on The McDonald College’s upcoming International Summer School. She is Director of the hugely popular summer dance programme, held annually each January in Sydney and open to students from age seven to professional level.
“There are many aspects which make the International Summer School so successful,” she says. “We have a wonderful international faculty of teachers, nine studios for classes and limited class sizes, so all get the very best opportunity. It is a very happy Summer School [that] creates an atmosphere of non-competitiveness and allows the students to work and experience and gain from other teachers.”
The stellar line-up of tutors is a major drawcard for aspiring ballet dancers. 2015’s faculty includes: Jay Jolley, former Principal with The Royal Ballet and Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet School London; Jane Devine, formerly with The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and The Royal Ballet School; Steve Rooks, former Principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company; and Paul Boyd, former Principal of Deutsche Oper am Rheim, Basel Ballet and Queensland Ballet; among many other big international names.
“For me, it’s such a delight to see such smiling, happy faces enjoying all their classes and the opportunities which the International Summer School offers,” says Dumont. It’s what she loves most about her job, and what motivates her to strive ever higher; seeing students “feel inspired to reach for their goals, be relaxed and confident, along with developing their highest possible level of competency, confidence, artistry and musicality.”
Having the wisdom of such a high calibre of tutors available to our next generation of dancers is certainly something to smile about. Dumont notes how lucky students in Australia are today, and makes a special mention of other directors and administrators working hard to create a wealth of national and international opportunities across all styles of dance. She gives credit, also, to the students themselves, with their raw determination and ability to test themselves competitively in pursuit of their dreams.
“With the wonderful teaching in general,” she says, “[Australian students] are getting the very best possible training they could have.”
As a young student herself, at just 15 years old, Dumont was invited to join the New Zealand Ballet Company (now the Royal New Zealand Ballet). She cites it as a “wonderful opportunity” and an achievement she is particularly proud of. She danced many soloist roles in the company’s repertoire before embarking on what would become a hugely illustrious teaching career, beginning with directing The Dunedin School of Ballet.
In 1983 she formed her own company, Dance Co-ordinates, creating performance opportunities for young dancers. Two years later, Dumont was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Bursary to study dance training.
Appointed an RAD Examiner in 1981, Dumont has travelled the globe, tutoring students as well as teachers. “I have always felt privileged to be invited to teach in other cities and countries,” she says. “My many years of examining for the RAD allowed me to travel the world, meeting teachers and students from many countries. It was a privilege to see all the hard work and dedication they were inspiring their students with.”
It is clear how devoted Ms. Dumont is to her students, and how much authenticity she brings to her work. Her bright, positive energy is infectious, even via a telephone interview, and it’s easy to see why she has had such a prolific career so far. And with many of her past students gaining contracts and developing successful careers in the industry, she is justifiably proud.
“It’s very rewarding – and a gift – to see students develop and mature to a level that they are recognised for their ability as a dancer,” she says. “One is always so proud you have touched their lives, even in a small way… to know that they are living their dream in life. To see sincere, smiling faces always makes me feel teaching is very rewarding.”
For more information about Jacqui Dumont and the International Summer School visit www.mcdonald.nsw.edu.au/index.php/other-programs/iss