International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is known for bringing exceptional teachers to ballet students across Australia and New Zealand, and is very pleased to have recently announced that Jane Inglis-Keen will be joining its outstanding faculty for the upcoming winter tour. After a successful dance career performing with The Australian Ballet, Inglis-Keen has specialised in teaching classical ballet since 1997, and is a qualified and registered Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) teacher and examiner. She has also trained in the Pilates method and with the Progressing Ballet Technique.
For the upcoming IBW tour, Inglis-Keen will join the faculty in Perth, Auckland and Sydney, working particularly with the Junior and Intermediate classes, although Advanced students will stand to gain a lot from her body conditioning classes. She will be working alongside Elizabeth Walker, this season’s headline teacher and former New York City Ballet dancer, who will share Balanchine Technique® and repertoire with advanced and intermediate students.
We caught up with Inglis-Keen to find out a bit more of what to expect from her classes at the IBW Winter 2019 Balanchine Series.
What are you looking forward to about joining the IBW Balanchine Series?
“Firstly, I’m really honoured to be joining the IBW family, and to be meeting and sharing my love, knowledge and passion of ballet with all the young dancers that I will be working with. I’ve been honoured to be taught by many wonderful teachers, and those early teachers in particular create your whole knowledge base from which you draw on and share in your own teaching. I’m also really looking forward to meeting Elizabeth and the other faculty on the IBW tour because, in that environment, you are constantly sharing ideas with like-minded people and constantly learning from one another.”
What experience do you have so far of IBW?
“My first experience of IBW was sending my daughter to one of the workshops in Melbourne four years ago. My daughter really enjoyed the experience and has attended four workshops over the years since then. I’ve also recommended and sent a lot of my ballet students to the IBW workshops. What I love about the workshops is that it gives students a lot of great opportunities, both offering them scholarships and through bringing these inspiring, talented teachers from all around the world. It’s interactions with teachers like this that help students to grow, develop confidence and be inspired. The workshops also bring the ballet and dance community together from all the different schools in the various cities, so that students start making friends in a non-competitive environment. There is such a focus on learning, developing, inspiring and motivating the students as a support to the ballet schools where they are already training, and I think that is wonderful.”
What sort of principles do you incorporate in your teaching?
“First and foremost is to pass on my love and passion for classical ballet and music, that always comes first. Also to foster each child’s potential and confidence, and to always encourage the pursuit of excellence, in whatever they do, and particularly in the ballet classroom. It’s important for me to keep encouraging students in their learning, developing and growing as young dancers.
Second to that, a dancer needs to be able to move with an efficiency and an economy of movement, that will then develop their strength and technique so that they can become a true artist. I’m very interested in helping dancers develop this central control and their ability to transfer their weight through the use and control of turnout, and all of the technical things that they need, so that they can have an even movement and their technique can continue to strengthen. I want my students to have an understanding of what they are doing, and how and why they are doing it that way, and that will hopefully will inspire and motivate them to be aware of all the little details that are needed on the journey to get to where they want to go.”
You are qualified in many different areas. What is one of your favourite methods, and why?
“My specialty at the moment is with the RAD as an educator and examiner, but I was also trained in the Cecchetti method as a student, so I have that cross-referencing of the different methods and the delight that is found in each. My other area of training is the Pilates method, which I have studied for 22 years and continue to do for myself. Also, for the least three years, I have been working with Marie Walton-Mahon with the Progressing Ballet Technique. I’m very interested in how the body works, and in finding the most efficient and logical way for the body to work, so that students can reach their true potential within their own physique with whatever facility they have. So with all of this knowledge coming together, I have developed my own principles and order of how I work. Between examining, teaching and Pilates focussed on ballet conditioning, I can balance all three of those together to help dancers to achieve their best potential and hopefully reach their goals.”
What do you think makes a great ballet teacher?
“This is a question that I constantly review in myself. I think firstly to inspire your students to love what they do – to love ballet and to love dance – and I think this is only possible if you genuinely love what you teach. It’s so important to be able to successfully communicate your ideas and for that, you really have to understand a bit of child psychology. Teachers should read and educate themselves on how best to communicate to students of all different ages, and how the way to communicate ideas and concepts will change depending on the student’s experience and their age. Great ballet teachers create a safe environment for the students to feel safe to make mistakes and receive corrections and positive feedback. It should be a positive environment for students to learn, grow and develop in, and students should be invited to contribute their own ideas and to interact at appropriate times in the class to foster that engagement. Caring about your students and getting to know them is so important so they can know that you care about them as you teach them, which helps them to enjoy being in the room and enjoy learning.
Continual professional development is essential. Teachers should be keeping up to date and continuing their own learning and interest by reading relevant articles and going to see performances. I think this is very important in keeping you interesting and inspiring to your students. As well as this, it is of course important to have a focus on returning to the foundations of ballet technique and encouraging the pursuit of excellence. I often say to my students, ‘If you are going to do it, why not do it correctly?'”
What advice can you give to a dancer transitioning into the world of teaching?
“I think it is very important for a dancer or student who is looking into teaching to enquire about good courses because you can’t just walk out of a professional career, even as a dancer, and go straight into teaching. There are so many skills that we need to be aware of; there is more to it than just knowing what you want to teach. As a teacher, you must be professional, reliable, punctual and prepared. If you keep journals, reflect back on them or begin to make journal notes of your teaching so that you can self-reflect, which I think is an important skill for a young teacher.
Make sure that you prepare your classes; you must go in with a class plan and be fully prepared but also with the ability to be flexible to change that when needed in order to teach to the class in front of you. I learned so much as a teacher myself by watching other amazing and inspiring teachers teach. It allowed me to see how they conduct a class and bring a theme all the way through the class, and how they interact with their students and inspire them. Assistant teaching is a great way of watching and working with another teacher in that environment to learn about different age groups and how to structure the class. Similarly, new teachers could find a mentor, possibly an older teacher or someone with more years of experience, that they feel comfortable around to call on for support and advice.
Teaching isn’t easy, so you have to really want to teach. It takes a lot of energy because you are sharing and giving a lot of yourself when you’re in the classroom with your students. It can also be helpful to think back on the inspiring teachers you had yourself, who helped and supported you to a point that you are still here now doing it and sharing dance with others. And of course, once a new teacher has finished their training, they should keep their professional development going and be inquisitive and openminded to learning more all the time through their whole teaching life. Teaching doesn’t stop; it’s an ongoing learning experience!”
Classes are filling quickly, but there are still a few places remaining, so head to to register before it sells out.
BRISBANE: JUNE 30-JULY 2, 2019 at Australian Dance Performance Institute
MELBOURNE: JULY 4-6, 2019 at Melbourne Academy of the Arts
PERTH: JULY 9-11, 2019 at The Perth School of Ballet
AUCKLAND: JULY 14-16, 2019 at Wellesley Studios
SYDNEY: JULY 18-20, 2019 at Conlan College