The Australian Ballet School
The Australian Ballet School is the school of The Australian Ballet and as such is the national centre of excellence in classical dance training.
The Australian Ballet School was established in 1964, just fifteen months after the national company gave its first performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney. Founding Director Dame Margaret Scott DBE was to shape the School’s destiny for the next 27 years. Since Dame Margaret’s retirement, the School has seen only two other Directors, Gailene Stock AM (1990-1998), and Marilyn Rowe OBE.
From the moment that a national company was under consideration, so too was the establishment of a national school. The Australian Ballet School was therefore founded as an essential adjunct to the Company. To this day, the School and Company share the same long term goal: a truly unique Australian Ballet with a distinctive style of its own. Nowhere, but in the official school of the national company, can a unique company style be fostered and developed. And no other school is better placed to channel the best talent into the national company.
Approximately 95% of The Australian Ballet are graduates of The Australian Ballet School. Graduates can also be found as principals and soloists in major companies throughout the world. Such is the standard of excellence that within six months of graduating, 90% of students gain contracts. This is one of the highest employment rates of any tertiary institution in Australia.
The School works in close liaison with The Australian Ballet, sharing the purpose-built facilities of The Australian Ballet Centre in Southbank. The centre is adjacent to the Victorian Arts Centre, integrated into a creative environment in which Australian dance is able to flourish.
The influence of the School permeates many other areas relating to dance. The teaching of Benesh Notation was first introduced into Australia by the School, contributing much to the international growth of choreology. Choreographic talent has been nurtured with many graduates establishing distinguished reputations, including Graeme Murphy, Meryl Tankard, Stephen Baynes and Gideon Obarzanek. The School also collaborated in the establishment of the first dance medicine clinic in Australia.
The Australian Ballet School has approximately 90 students in the Senior School (Levels 6-8) undertaking the three year Advanced Diploma. This three year full-time course offers the students a practical, vocational course in classically based training.
The final year of this course is primarily devoted to learning performance skills. The students of the graduate year make up the body of The Dancers Company. The Dancers Company was formed in 1980, and is an integrated part of The Australian Ballet, under the direction of the Artistic Director, David McAllister. It takes the highest quality dance productions to regional areas around Australia for approximately six weeks each year.
The Australian Ballet School’s full training programme offers an eight year course for gifted students from the age of ten.
The Junior School (Levels 1-5) is offered to only a small number of selected students who show aptitude and potential for high quality achievement in dance. Even though the Junior School is Melbourne based, selected students are chosen to participate in the Interstate Junior Programme.
The audition process is stringent, to ensure that the successful applicants have the potential to meet the ultimate vocational goals of the programme. The Junior School programme culminates in the accredited Certificate III in Dance. Level 5 is full time, with Year 10 academic studies conducted at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. In time we will be able to provide an eight year course of systematic training whereby intensive ballet training runs concurrently with academic studies.