In 2014, Australia’s longest serving ballerina, Lucinda Dunn OAM, hung up her pointe shoes after an illustrious career with The Australian Ballet and as a young dancer. As a previous winner of the Prix de Lausanne scholarship, she studied at The Royal Ballet School in London and joined The Australian Ballet at 17 years old. She has performed nearly all the iconic roles available to a ballerina, and now she is set to take on a role she never planned on: a teacher.
“To be honest, I never aspired to be a teacher, especially in this capacity!” Dunn tells Dance Informa. Returning to the school where she studied, Dunn became artistic director of the prestigious Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy in 2015. The Tanya Pearson Academy has arguably trained some of Australia’s best ballet dancers with both Tanya Pearson (or better known as Mrs. P) and her former student, Dunn, receiving Order of Australia Medals for their services to the arts and dance. “This role has many facets to it, namely teaching and coaching in the studio on a daily basis,” Dunn explains. “The Academy has such a high reputation, and my goal is to uphold this expectation and to excel even further.”
In taking over the school from her former teacher, Dunn describes her own teaching focus as being “pure, clean classical ballet technique. Explaining correct muscle use and [a] way of working that each student understands and can implement to their own body.”
Drawing on her rich career on the stage and within the industry, she also plans to teach her students about what may be needed for a career in dance. “A strong work ethic and self-drive was paramount in my performing career, so I try to instill this, too, and for the students to work at their full potential,” Dunn says. She follows the motto, “What you put into it is what you get out of it,” and will encourage her students to find their unique dance quality and artistry to enhance class work and performance joy. “Our Full Time curriculum is full and varied to give the students many of the tools they will need should a professional career be a possibility,” she adds. “Not to mention my own two very young dancing daughters!”
Although Dunn has stepped away from the stage, she has been busy with her two daughters, as artistic director of the Academy and even helping break a world record. At the Victorian Dance Festival in March earlier this year, Dunn was in Melbourne along with 300 dancers en pointe for over 60 seconds to break the world record. “Breaking the World Record was thrilling…,it was interesting also for me to have my pointe shoes on again after three years!”
Although a dancer forever, Dunn admits that she does miss elements of her former life but remains thankful for her current and past experiences. “I do miss many elements of my former life and career, but thankful in so many ways,” she says.
It is undoubtable that dance teaches people more than just steps and equips each dancer with many life skills and lessons valuable for other areas. “I take into my life and my Academy positivity, punctuality, [being] motivated [and] dedicated,” Dunn concludes. “My former dancer self imparts all I learnt from my studies and professional career to my students on a daily basis.”
To learn more about the Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy, visit www.classicalcoaching.com.
By Elle Evangelista of Dance Informa.