While there is an ever growing number of full-time dance schools in Australia that focus on jazz, musical theatre or contemporary dance, the choices for pre-professional ballet students are limited. The Vaganova School in Russia accepts students from age 10, and they train a few hours per day, in addition to their academic classes. The hours of training increase as the students get older. Traditionally in Australia, ballet students continue with their regular daily schooling and undergo their ballet training in the evenings until around the age of 15, when the roles reverse and they enter full-time dance training while completing their academic studies at night. With the increased demands on ballet dancers to push their bodies to the limits more than ever before, it is becoming necessary for students to increase the amount of hours they practice from an earlier age.
In 2016, En Pointe School of Ballet in Melbourne commences its half-day vocational course for ballet students. The course provides young dancers with a nationally accredited Certificate IV in Dance while allowing students to continue with their academic studies in preparation for full-time training. The En Pointe School focuses on classical technique taught in the Vaganova method provided through Christine Walsh’s Australian Conservatoire of Ballet.
Dance Informa spoke with the school’s Director, Renee Grinsted, and found out what the new course offers dance students.
Your school teaches ballet using the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet syllabus, which is based on the Russian Vaganova Method. What are the benefits of training students with this method?
“Many of our staff members, including myself, trained in this method and went on to have extensive careers in classical ballet, so its seems like a natural extension to continue teaching in this style. The method is relevant in current professional ballet schools and companies around the world, as most are now training and dancing in the Russian Vaganova style, including our own national school, The Australian Ballet School. I feel that if students are wanting to go on further with their studies once graduating from us, then the transition will be easier for them with a solid base in the ACB method.”
En Pointe School of Ballet is a part-time dance school, but in 2016 you are launching a half-day vocational course for ballet students. What inspired you to create this course?
“We train our students in a way that if they choose dance as a vocation, then they are well prepared for that. However, as our school in now approaching eight years old, we have a large group of dancers who are now senior students and need to take their training to the next level, rather than just dancing a few hours after school in the evenings. Our staff, facilities, network, teaching methods and available opportunities are still able to provide these students exactly what they need to get to the next level without having to leave our studio doors! However, we just needed a structured program in place to help facilitate its delivery. The timing is right for our school, and we have budding ballerinas ready to commit and the perfect team to provide it.”
What does the course offer ballet students?
“Students will be provided with strong classical ballet training, as well as weekly classes in character, jazz, contemporary, Pilates, repertoire, pointe, and VCE Dance. The Certificate IV qualification provides them with an education in anatomy, dance history, dance analysis, nutrition, performance, and a broader knowledge of our industry as a whole.”
What does the course entail, and what is the duration of the course?
“The course will be delivered over two years, and students will graduate with a Certificate IV. The contact hours are approximately 16 hours per week.”
What are the requirements for entry into the course, and how can students audition?
“We want our learning environment to be productive and filled with like-minded students who all share a common goal, and that is why we have made it an ‘Audition Only’ program. One group audition has already taken place; however, we are looking to hold another shortly. Interest should be registered through our website enquiry form at enpointeschoolofballet.com.au, by calling 0423 251 400, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
How do students continue their academic studies while undergoing the vocational course?
“Students are required to attend classes at our studio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons commencing at 1.15pm and then on Saturdays. We have currently approached nine local high schools, and all have shown support for our program and will accommodate students in making these arrangements work. All of our students have been able to make arrangements with their current academic providers to remain enrolled in their school whilst undertaking our course.”
By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.