Isabelle Greenwood – New Zealand Ballet School Report

AICD New Zealand Scholarship

For the past two weeks it has been my pleasure to attend The New Zealand School of Dance on scholarship that was generously provided by The Australian Institute of Classical Dance. What an incredible and benefiting experience it was to feel like a student at this great school. The two weeks went incredibly fast however in the short amount of time I gained so much knowledge and feedback that I’m certain will assist in helping me grow and develop as not only a dancer but an individual as well.

Isabelle Greenwood (center)
Isabelle Greenwood (center)

The school shares two dance major studies of contemporary and classical dance and I took part in the classical stream. Although the two styles of studies differentiate between training to accommodate the main focus and style of the course, all students show an incredibly high level of versatility as they are able to fully adapt to both of these styles no matter which style of dance they study. I was fortunate enough to witness this versatility in action as I watched the end of term performance. Each student very much dances with a unique style and movement vocabulary that stays true to themselves. I believe the teachers should pride themselves in this as they are encouraging individual artists and not a group of people who all dance the same way.

Pas de Deux
Pas de Deux with Calum Gray

Having said this the school is fortunate enough to have many intelligent teachers that are fully up to date with the growing and changing art form by having a forum of physiotherapists, nutritionists, Pilates instructors and teachers who are fully aware of the anatomy and science behind ballet. They treat each student as an individual and accommodate everyone’s differences. The student teacher relationships are very strong at the school and the teachers are always making sure the students are listening to their bodies and are taking care of themselves to maximise their training and reach their fullest potential. As these relationships are so strong the students are eager to improve and grow whilst showing integrity to their bodies and the teachers.

Although I was mainly grouped with the first year students I was fortunate enough to take class with the second and third year students. It was wonderful to see how the students are able to grow and improve so much as the schedule accommodates students to do so. The dancers are slowly exposed to the high intensive training program so there are very few injuries.

It was also a huge honour of mine to observe the class of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. It was so incredible to see how a company operates and how particular dancers approach their work with established integrity. It was especially inspiring to watch Lucy Green; a VCASS alumni. Although principle, Lucy approaches her work with intelligence and determination which is why she is the great dancer she is.

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I was so fortunate that the AICD arranged for me to stay with the kindest and friendliest couple; Dawn and Graeme for the two weeks. They both greeted me at the air port and helped me become familiar with the city and where the school was, showing me how to get to the school so I was confident where to go. Dawn actually drove me in the first day so I wouldn’t worry at all about getting there. They both were heavily involved in the arts so I gained so much knowledge over the two weeks. They took me to enjoyable plays and concerts, and having an interest in acting I found these very enjoyable. I always had a healthy dinner to come home to after a long day of dancing and they were always kind and good humoured to me. On my last day they took me out for lunch and said good bye to me at the air port, I found myself very sad to say good bye to them.

I overall couldn’t speak higher of my trip as you can probably tell, as it has given me a whole other layer of experience that will take me further in pursuing my dream. I can not thank the Australian Institute of Dance enough for providing me with this great experience. I feel so incredibly lucky and fortunate to have been given this experience and I think it’s so wonderful that the AICD’s support and generosity provides students with scholarships like this. I will always be most grateful to all who made this possible.

Isabelle Greenwood