Dance Advice

Get Back to Ballet with The McDonald College

The McDonald College's Back to Ballet.

The McDonald College has curated a special program of four mornings in January, designed to physically prepare ballet students ages 12 to pre-professional, for a safe and strong return to the studio. 

Each morning, held over the holidays from 18 – 21 January 2022, will consist of a one-hour conditioning/Pilates class and an hour-and-three-quarters ballet class. 

This Back to Ballet series will be taught by former Royal Ballet Soloist Nicky Gattorna and Mitch Rayner, a former dancer with The Australian Ballet. 

Selected for The Royal Ballet company’s development scheme, Gattorna commenced as a junior associate aged seven, securing a place at The Royal Ballet Lower School (White Lodge). In 1991, she secured a position with The Royal Ballet, based at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. During this time, she progressed to the position of soloist, performing first soloist and principal roles, and guested with Irek Mukamedov’s company at The Sadlers Wells Theatre.

In 2003, Gattorna was awarded a degree in Dance and Sports Psychology, and completed the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma with distinction at the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Headquarters, where she conducted freelance teaching and private coaching until 2011, as well as tuition at the RAD summer schools in London, Italy, Singapore, and Tokyo. She has also taught at the English National Ballet School summer school in London.

The McDonald College's Back to Ballet.

Gattorna relocated to Sydney with her family in 2011, where she successfully qualified as an APMA Pilates instructor in 2012, and as a Franklin Method Level 1 teacher in 2014. She now teaches ballet and Pilates at The McDonald College and elsewhere. Her understanding of body biomechanics and passion for dance/movement has inspired her to help others.

Rayner began formal dance lessons in Newcastle at the age of 13, studying classical, jazz, contemporary and character dance, before taking up full-time dance studies under the guidance of Tessa Maunder, OAM.

He joined The Australian Ballet School in 2005, earning an Advanced Diploma of Dance. In 2008, he was offered a place with The Australian Ballet and worked there for eight years. In 2016, Rayner began teaching and mentoring and has since taught for the likes of Sydney Dance Company, The Australian Ballet, the RAD and Ballet Without Borders. He has a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate from the RAD and is a registered RAD teacher.

The McDonald College’s Back to Ballet will be held from 18 – 21 January 2022, from 9am-12pm each day. For more information and to book, visit

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