International Ballet Workshops welcomes Crystal Wong for ‘British Ballet Series’

International Ballet Workshops. Photo by Chris Dowd.
International Ballet Workshops. Photo by Chris Dowd.

International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is known for bringing top teachers to ballet students all over Australia and New Zealand, and it has recently announced another name in its stellar faculty. Crystal Wong, who has over 17 years of teaching experience in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Australia, will join IBW for the “British Ballet Series” tour this January.

Crystal Wong.

Crystal Wong.

Wong’s qualifications are impressive: RAD RTS, LRAD, ARAD; BA (Hons) in the Art and Teaching of Ballet (University of Durham), Grad. Dip Choreography VCA (University of Melbourne), Certified Pilates Instructor (DMA).

Her classes draw on the teachings of some of the leading experts in ballet-specific conditioning, including the Progressing Ballet Technique system, Pilates and physio exercises devised by dance physiotherapists, including Lisa Howell.

For the upcoming IBW tour, she will join the faculty in Perth and Melbourne, working particularly with Junior and Intermediate students, although Seniors will also benefit from her body conditioning classes. She will be working alongside Ken Ludden, this season’s headlining teacher and the director of the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet in New York.

IBW sold out so quickly in some cities on its five-centre tour, that it opened special one- and two-day Intensives in Melbourne and Sydney, to cater for those who missed out. There are still a few places remaining in some classes, so head to www.internationalballetworkshops.com to find out more.

We caught up with Wong to find out a bit more about what to expect from her classes at IBW this January.

What are you most looking forward to about teaching at IBW?

“IBW is such a great platform to gather like-minded students, who are enthusiastic and passionate to keep learning over their precious school holiday. I am most looking forward to meeting these young talents who are willing to open their mind and experience new things. I have always enjoyed meeting new people and making new connections wherever I guest teach. I am excited to share my teaching in hope to inspire and be inspired by everyone who attends the workshops.”

What are some of the classes you will be taking at IBW, and what can we expect from them?

“I will be teaching the Juniors, some intermediate ballet and pointe classes and some body conditioning classes for the Seniors in Perth and Melbourne, as well as some private lessons. I will also be sharing my thoughts on ‘Improving Pointe Range’ and ‘Improving Turnout’ as part of the Special One-Day Intensive in Melbourne. For the ballet classes, it will be about sharing the love of dance, sharing an enjoyable experience with new friends and new teachers, with the focus of learning something that can be taken away and applied after the workshop is finished.

As for body conditioning classes, being a Pilates instructor and ballet teacher at the same time, I always focus on making the students understand how certain body conditioning exercises directly relate to the enhancement of their ballet technique. Every single human body is different, thus there is no one formula fits all; we can only find out what suits us best by trying things out. But through my years of teaching, I know that certain exercises produce better results in the majority of the students, so these have become part of my teaching regime.

Crystal Wong in class. Photo courtesy of Wong.

Crystal Wong in class. Photo courtesy of Wong.

If you have a private lesson with me, I will assess what is needed most for you to improve, be it flexibility, strength, core stability, better turnout, better pointe range. These can all be addressed with exercises to be taken away.”

What sort of principles and ideas do you incorporate into your teaching?

“I believe in focus and hard work. Classes can be fun, but within the limits of respecting ballet as an art form and respecting safe dance practice. My classes focus on educating students with the ability to relate and apply. The importance of transferring information we learn at the barre to the centre, for example, is vital to developing good dancers. You will hear me saying this in nearly every class: ‘We do not want queens and kings of Pilates on the mat; floor exercises done in body conditioning classes are to build muscle memories to make you become a better dancer. The quicker you can apply, the quicker you can excel.’ It is interesting to see the improvement that comes after. As for younger dancers, the use of imagery that is applicable to their age is always incorporated when I teach. I believe when the mind is stimulated, the body reacts and will express movement better, and that is a beautiful thing to see, when young dancers learn how to do that.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching younger dance students?

“Their honest reactions, whether they like what they are doing or not. Not saying that I will change what I teach to suit their liking, but the honest feedback reflects how love of dance is developed. It is pure and beautiful to see in younger dance students, no matter if the feedback is positive or negative. If it is negative, seeing how they cope with it and learn to endure is fruitful, too. I see my teaching as a sharing of experience, and it is constantly evolving. I enjoy being inspired by the students; some of them give me the best ideas! I have a young student who once said to me that she found it easier to balance on one leg if she thinks of a pineapple! I love the creativity, and I can visualise that stimulated mind working right in front of my eyes. That is rewarding. Of course, in return, I hope I can inspire the younger ones to fall deeper in love with dance.

What is your advice for getting the most out of IBW?

Crystal Wong leads a class. Photo courtesy of Wong.

Crystal Wong leads a class. Photo courtesy of Wong.

“My advice is to come with an open mind and willingness to try new things. Things that are done differently to your regular classes might create new inspiration and new ways of understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. Be brave to say hello to everyone you get into eye contact with, and make new friends. Sometimes we make lifelong friends through dance workshops like these, and IBW has provided you the perfect opportunity.

Be ready to soak up all the information you can from the teaching faculty. We are only here to help, so I would advise a little ballet notebook in the bag is always handy. Put your corrections in it, and read them through every time before class. That way, you can make the most out of your next class to correct or consolidate things that you were told in the previous class; then time and opportunity are not wasted.”

Perth 3-day Workshop: January 5-8 (limited places in all levels currently available)
Melbourne 1-day Intensive: January 10 (limited places in Intermediate and Senior currently available)
Melbourne 3-day Workshop: January 11-13 (limited places in Junior only currently available)
Auckland 3-day Workshop: January 15-17 (limited places in all levels currently available)
Gold Coast 3-day Workshop: January 19-21 (limited places in Senior only currently available)
Sydney 2-day Intensive: January 24-25 (limited places in all levels currently available)
Sydney 3-day Workshop: January 26-28 (all levels SOLD OUT)

Register and find more information at www.internationalballetworkshops.com.

Dance Informa is a proud sponsor of International Ballet Workshops.

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