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Dance world loses iconic ballet teacher Tanya Pearson

Tanya Pearson.
Tanya Pearson.

Tanya Pearson OAM passed away peacefully in her sleep on Monday 8 February, at the age of 84.

Doyenne of the Ballet world, Mrs P (as she was affectionately known) was born near Moscow, Russia, in 1937, and emigrated to Australia in 1948.

Tanya Pearson and Lucinda Dunn. Photo by Lightbox Photography.
Tanya Pearson and Lucinda Dunn.
Photo by Lightbox Photography.

One of the world’s pre-eminent teachers of classical ballet, Pearson was the founder of the world-renowned Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy and the Sydney City Youth Ballet. In a career spanning over 50 years, Pearson worked with passion and dedication to train many successful dancers who went on to become principals and soloists in companies all around the world, and she was revered as a guest teacher and adjudicator, not only in Australia but also overseas.

Trained by Raisa Kousnetzova in Sydney, Pearson joined the Borovansky Ballet Academy and then the Borovansky Ballet Company in Melbourne. When the company was disbanded, Pearson travelled to London, where she danced as a soloist in both theatre and film. In 1965, she returned to Australia, and established her own ballet school on Sydney’s north shore, as well as choreographing for television and film. In 1971, she founded the Sydney Youth Ballet which later became the Sydney City Ballet Company.

Tanya Pearson with Lucinda Dunn at her final performance with The Australian Ballet.
Tanya Pearson with Lucinda Dunn
at her final performance
with The Australian Ballet.

For more than 25 years, Pearson led annual overseas study and auditions tours for students and teachers, with her students competing in major international ballet competitions such as the Genée International Ballet Competition, the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland and the Youth America Grand Prix in New York. She produced a series of coaching DVDs on her teaching methodologies, and facilitated numerous Teacher and Student Sharing Seminars throughout Australia.  

Pearson retired in 2014, with Lucinda Dunn OAM (former student and The Australian Ballet principal ballerina) appointed as both artistic director of the Tanya Pearson Academy and the Sydney City Youth Ballet.

Tanya Pearson (right) applies makeup to Lucinda Dunn, her former student.
Tanya Pearson (right) applies
makeup to Lucinda Dunn,
her former student.

Pearson is mourned by her husband Keith, her children Brent, Craig, Gabrielle and Nicole, and grandchildren Ben, Tim, Michael, Bianka, Harri, Jack and Leksi. Mrs P will be missed by many; however, her teaching methodologies and passion for artistry will continue to be carried on by many students, dancers and teachers throughout the world. 

In 2012, Pearson was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for Life-long Services to Dance Education. In 2014, she received the Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance Education. In 2009, she was presented with the Most Outstanding Teacher Award at the Youth American Grand Prix.

In 2012, Pearson was the subject of Australian Story – Tatiana is Dancing, detailing her early years in Russia, through post-war Germany to carving a new life in Australia, culminating in a gala celebration of her career.

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