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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Australian Ballet School

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  • Redbookish


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Congratulations! I hope it all works out well :)

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  • 1 year later...

About expectations: the ABS is one of the best schools in the world - on a par with the Royal Ballet School, Neumeier in Germany,  English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, or School of American Ballet (and a few others - just an indicative list). So the standard is very high - just so you are aware of the expectations there!

I saw part of the audition process for girls at 15 or so - they look closely at feet, body type, measurements etc, as well as technique. The standard in all these things is very much that they're looking to train dancers able to enter the company - or other equally eminent world-class companies.

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Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge. I have limited understanding of dance and the schools and really appreciate the depth of knowledge in this forum.  Thanks again! 

Edited by Mumofdancer
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I believe that the standard of training at The Australian Ballet School (ABS) is very high.  I feel they could be more transparent about graduate destinations.  The RBS for example and others produce a  comprehensive list not just highlights.   If a student gets into the Australian Ballet company then that is fantastic.  For the students who do not then I am unsure.

Like many vocational schools in Europe, ABS is quite closed off to the outside world.  For example, the students do not attend big competitions and benefit from the industry networking this offers and also the ability to fully understand where you sit in the scheme of things.  I am also not sure if students are well set up (early) in the final year to audition for outside opportunities/contacts.  Maybe someone else can speak to this?

There are several elite  (private) full-time ballet schools in Australia so some young people opt to turn down an offer from ABS.  They can attend one of these and prepare to go overseas for more training.  I'm sure it is a very difficult decision.

Edited by balletfan
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My impression of the ABS is based largely upon DS's involvement in the ITP and then regular contact with dancers who attended full time. Make of that what you will. I always felt that they get a great deal of credit based upon the name and reputation. Our experience of the ITP (this is a few years ago) was pretty non-descript. It gave great bragging rights but as far as making any difference in his training, I was not convinced.  Now I am not saying that ABS is terrible or not worthy of their reputation. I am just saying that we need to look at it just as critically as we do every other training option. Don't let the stars blur your vision.

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I agree with Thyme, there are so many factors involved with a choice of ballet school/training and I feel it has to come down to what is best suited to your child and you. It's now 7 years from when my DD went to the finals of the ABS, I can confidently say that not getting a place there was a blessing in disguise. Two girls my DD met at the finals who also didn't get a place are both now professional ballet dancers. The two significant downsides for us at the time were; living away from home at a young age and not having the opportunity to gain a higher education entrance qualification.

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Yes, Thyme and Clutterbug your experience of the ABS  resonates with ours

For the Interstate Training Program (ITP) ,children (9-13) are selected based on perceived potential e.g. facility.  This means that those turning up are a mixed bag when it comes to dancing ability.  Turning up is expensive if you don't live in Melbourne.  The master classes in the main cities are limited  and less than a day long.  So yes, nice bragging rights.  Great fun but not essential. 

Similarly  with the ABS summer schools.  They are not selective so a mixed range of abilities in the classes.  For this reason, we stopped attending after a couple of years .

Many will attend ITP so that they are in the loop for an invitation to Finals week  and hopefully an offer for full time training (13 yrs+) or to remain as an ITP invitee.  It is a shame that there isn't another focus on selection at 16 years of age as this is a better time to leave home and also to select on demonstrable talent.  

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It's very tough. I feel that my DD definitely could have benefited from more consistent training from 12-17 years of age however there were a whole lot of factors outside our control that resulted in her training being somewhat of a hotch potch and she didn't start 'full time' till she was 17. All the other students (except DD) at the ABS final were already in 'full time' training (i.e spent more time doing ballet than academic study). 

When she finally moved to a full time training she was behind and it was extremely difficult for her to catch up. The school director said the Russian style of training would have been perfect for DD. I feel that DD would possibly have ended up being burnt out if she had been in that environment. 

On the positive side, she lived at home until she was 17, graduated with a university entrance qualification and gained her first choice place at University. My fist priority was always to raise an independent, resilient, confident young woman and if she achieved her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer then that would be the icing on the cake!

The members on this site, particularly the moderators, have been an never ending wealth of knowledge and support that have helped me to understand the ballet world and prioritise what really is important.

Many of the students that RBS takes into the upper school are from competitions and have been in full time training from teens and younger.


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Clutterbug, sounds like all's well that ends well!

What did the school director mean when he said your DD would have benefited from the Russian style of training?  Did that mean a Vaganova school overseas or just the idea of a full time vocational school from an early age?

One good thing in the last few years is the quality of intensives offered in Australia e.g. Queensland Ballet Academy, Bolshoi, assorted international guests etc.  Also many of the the teachers at the full time private schools are world class.

Actually this is what makes me wonder about ABS as those students don't get to pick and choose from these. Yet that school is not cheap (no govt. funding as offered at UK/European schools).  My DD is able to access private coaching from a range of top teachers to augment her standard classes.  These are teachers or regular guests at her studio.  She can select and change coaches to suit her individual needs. Maybe I just prefer the power balance at a private school.  They can assess her out and similarly we can take our business elsewhere. 

Edited by balletfan
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1 hour ago, balletfan said:

One good thing in the last few years is the quality of intensives offered in Australia e.g. Queensland Ballet Academy, Bolshoi, assorted international guests etc.  Also many of the the teachers at the full time private schools are world class.

Actually this is what makes me wonder about ABS as those students don't get to pick and choose from these.

Our school currently has a number of students in various levels at ABS and on ITP. My understanding is that year round students are not allowed to train at any other establishments (including with their old dance teacher when they are back home on holidays - who was the one who trained them well enough to get them into ABS.... Go figure...)

I agree that they are also "cut-off" a little from the outside world. I remember when ABS students used to compete at Genee and would do very well.  They do get a lot of performance opportunities with the Dancers' Company however.  I agree that I would love to see more transparency on graduates. It is lovely that they all get their diploma, but I know other training institutes such as NZ School of Dance has quotas for job placements they must fulfill to maintain funding.  It would be nice to know similar stats for ABS graduates...

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Miss Persistent, I did not know that ABS full time students can not train back at their old studios in the holidays.  Now you say this however I realise that they do not make an appearance. The students going to (esteemed) overseas schools definitely do return to their home studio.  Much fuss is made of them, they get to catch up with their friends and teachers and maintain their training.  The summer break is very long.  Our students are advised to keep up a level of constant fitness/training on their breaks in order to avoid injury when they return from holiday (based on a lot of research on gymnasts).  

I do know of 2 ABS full timers who return to a private coach in their holidays.  This includes conditioning work.  It also gives them an independent check on their progress. So know I see that this is a secret - and I'll be quiet about that.

Edited by balletfan
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Balletfan, I think that he felt that DD would have benefited from more strengthening and the very structured Russian style of training with a slower acquisition of skills and technique during her teenage years. DD has a very Russian type of build.

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