Dance Advice

How to make the most of a Dance Workshop

International Ballet Workshops. Photo courtesy of IBW.
International Ballet Workshops. Photo courtesy of IBW.

Attending workshops is a fantastic way for us as dancers to broaden our experience, step outside our comfort zones, make connections and discover new ways of working. But how do you make the most of your time at a workshop? We asked for some top tips from the teachers of International Ballet Workshops’ upcoming Winter Series tour, Dusty Button, Rain Francis and Olivia Jenkins.

Dusty Button – Principal Dancer, Boston Ballet

Dusty Button. Photo by Mitchell Button.

Dusty Button. Photo by Mitchell Button.

What are your top tips for making the most of a workshop?

“I could name many, but the beauty of all of them aside from one is the growth one experiences when discovering them for oneself, and I wouldn’t want to strip anyone of that opportunity for self-improvement. That said, I think we should treat workshops like we do all other aspects of our life and enter into them with no reservations, no fear, no insecurities, and remember that there is nothing more beautiful than someone pursuing their dreams and overcoming challenges that stand in their way. I always found comfort as a young dancer knowing that while I may have been in the position of a student rather than an instructor, my instructors learned from us just as we did from them, and this fact remains true for my teachings today.”

What are you most looking forward to about teaching with International Ballet Workshops this month?

“What I look most forward to with my work in Australia and New Zealand for International Ballet Workshops is learning from the students and culture. Education is one of life’s most beautiful gifts, and I appreciate the opportunity to better myself as a dancer as well as a teacher with every opportunity to work with the talent representing other cultures.”

Rain Francis. Photo courtesy of IBW.

Rain Francis. Photo courtesy of IBW.

Rain Francis – Director, International Ballet Workshops

What are your three top tips for making the most of a workshop?

“1) Give it everything you have, and be prepared to make mistakes; they’ll help you learn! 2) Smile and introduce yourself to others, especially if you see someone who looks a little shy or lost. Be confident and be kind; it makes for a much better learning environment for everybody. 3)Ask questions, especially when it comes to nuances in repertoire or aspects of technique that are new to you. Every teacher has a different way of working and a unique background and is a font of knowledge, and they’ll be happy to share it with you!”

Olivia Jenkins – Director, Danceworks Sydney

What advice can you give for getting the most out of a workshop?

“Come prepared with questions for the teacher. For example, if you know you are learning a piece of repertoire, you could study the different versions and then ask the teacher why there are different versions? Which one does he/she like the most and why? Another idea is to research where the teacher has danced, and ask about his/her life as a professional dancer in those companies. You will always learn lots of valuable things asking questions. You don’t know what you don’t know!”

Olivia Jenkins. Photo courtesy of IBW.

Olivia Jenkins. Photo courtesy of IBW.

How are you feeling about teaching at International Ballet Workshops?

“I’m excited to see the talent in Melbourne! I’m always interested in sharing wider international experience, as dancers in Australia are somewhat geographically cut off, so any opportunity for young dancers to work with teachers who’ve worked/danced overseas is a plus.”

Can you give any advice to students suffering nerves, especially those who may not know anyone else at the workshop?

“Take three deep breaths and remember that many of the students will be in the same position as you. Once you have gotten through the first day, the next two will be much more familiar. If you are nervous that you aren’t going to keep up, just remember that it is always okay to ask the teacher to repeat something or to break a step down so you can understand it.”

International Ballet Workshops brings elite ballet teachers to Australia and New Zealand for workshop tours twice a year, in the January and July school holidays. This Winter’s Guest Teacher is the amazing Dusty Button from the U.S.A! Registrations are filling fast. Don’t miss your chance to experience these much-loved workshops. Classes are capped at 30 students to ensure everyone has a valuable experience. For more information, visit

Brisbane: 25-27 June – Australian Dance Performance Institute
Sydney: 1-3 July – The Conlan College
Perth: 6-8 July – The Perth School of Ballet
Auckland: 11-12 July – Wellesley Studios
Melbourne: 14-16 July – Russian Choreographic Academy
Hobart: 19-21 July – Hobart Dance Academy

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