Dance Advice

What’s a degree like from Academy of Music and Performing Arts?

AMPA contemporary students. Photo by Satsuki Minoda.
AMPA contemporary students. Photo by Satsuki Minoda.

If you’re thinking of taking your dance qualifications to the next level, you might want to consider auditioning for the Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) Bachelor of Arts degree course. AMPA offers the only tertiary level dance performance programme in New South Wales, and both its Bachelor of Dance and nested Associate Degree courses have a strong focus on developing highly skilled, disciplined, knowledgeable and versatile dance artists within a supportive environment.

AMPA ballet students. Photo by Satsuki Minoda.

AMPA ballet students. Photo by Satsuki Minoda.

The course is unique in offering entry to advanced performers in any genre of dance, empowering them to study their area of expertise as their “major”. Head of Dance Adele Hyland proudly highlights the versatility of AMPA’s former students: “Our graduates are performing in ballet and contemporary dance companies, as cast members in music theatre productions, as solo artists in cabaret, as well as featured artists in films and videos. Some have found their niche as choreographers, dance captains or performance directors, while others are teaching in secondary schools or private dance studios.”

Described as “the only performance oriented dance degree in Sydney”, AMPA’s degree courses boast three professional performances per year in which all enrolled students take part. Students generally undertake 40 hours of study per week with the majority of their time devoted to practical classes working on technique and choreography, or rehearsing pieces for performance. Complementary studies on offer include dance history and appreciation, body science, music for dancers, dance production, and dance and film, as well as electives in pedagogy, music, drama and music theatre.

AMPA's Brayden Harry. Photo by Michelle Esmee.

AMPA’s Brayden Harry. Photo by Michelle Esmee.

AMPA has a big focus on tailored learning, and students can opt to complete the Bachelor of Dance over a period spanning between two to four years, taking their choice of units over the course of various trimesters. Dance technique classes are also streamed according to ability, for while students are encouraged to major in their genre of choice, they will also be exposed to a variety of genres over the course of their degree.

“Students commence their studies with a limited experience across genres,” says Hyland. “We have had hip hop, Latin dance and ballroom students who have never been exposed to ballet, contemporary or jazz; however, all students are required to study a variety of genres so they very quickly adjust to the differences. Most enjoy the challenge of changing habitual movement and developing their competence in a range of genres.” Hyland’s background, for her part, is in ballroom, and she possesses a passion for the Latin American styles.

AMPA contemporary students. Photo by George Popov.

AMPA contemporary students. Photo by George Popov.

Heard enough and want in? Potential students must be able to demonstrate that they have reached an advanced performance level in at least one genre of dance and have a passion for dance. A strong work ethic is also key, for as Hyland warns, the course is arduous and requires an 100 percent commitment to excellence in order to graduate.

For those up to the challenge, though, she assures it’s worth it. “I spend every day at the AMPA Campus at Alexandria, and it really is the best dance performance space in Sydney. The studios are always filled with music and dance, and so I never feel as though my job is ‘work’!”

For more information on Academy of Music and Performing Arts and how to apply, visit

By Grace Gassin of Dance Informa.

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