Libby-Rose Niederer: ballet always the goal
Company Artist at Queensland Ballet
Where are you from?
Originally from Auckland, New Zealand.
Where did you undertake your full-time training?
Queensland Ballet Academy.
What level of education had you attained before beginning your full-time training?
In ballet I completed my RAD exams to Advanced level 2 and NZAMD jazz exams to advanced level. Academically I completed my NCEA level 1(year 11) in New Zealand, before moving to Brisbane and the Queensland Ballet Academy where I continued my ballet training and academic studies (Year 12 QCE)
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while undertaking your full-time studies?
I made so many discoveries about myself and my dancing. I feel that full-time is when you really discover who you are as an artist and dancer, and that you can grow on from there in a company. I also found that I really enjoy yoga -- which we did once a week as part of our training. In yoga I found that the mixture of strengthening and stretching, combined with coordinated breathing, related a lot to ballet and I found it very useful to transfer those same principles over to my training.
Did you change your mind or have a change of attitude about your career goals in any way while you were studying?
From an early age I have always had the goal to be a professional dancer in a ballet company. I strive for a feeling of fulfilment from my dancing, and for me this comes from overcoming challenges, e.g. by conquering a hard solo. So I am now extending my goal further, so that in the future I progress from corps work to achieve a rank where I am able to dance some solo parts.
What was one of the main life lessons you gained from full-time studies?
That it’s really up to you! You make the choices to do the extra class or not, to take it easy if you’re feeling a worrying niggle -- and then accept responsibility for those choices that you do or don’t make. Your teachers will give you every chance and tool they can to help you reach your goals, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you do with those opportunities. And this carries over into normal life outside of ballet, too, you always ultimately have the power to make a choice, so take control and ownership for your actions and situation.
What is your best memory of your studies?
The opportunities I received during my studies were extremely beneficial and I am so grateful to my teachers for the amazing memories I have. A highlight for me was the opportunity to perform the Nutcracker pas de deux with the Queensland Conservatorium Orchestra. The opportunity to dance a pas and solos that are usually roles for company principal dancers was an amazing challenge for me and I know this has helped me grow as a dancer. I also have such good memories of comradery with the other dancers. We had some amazing times in the studio and I will always cherish the memories and friendships I made.
How quickly did you gain a professional position after graduation?
The great benefit of Queensland Ballet Academy is that it’s attached to Queensland Ballet. This gives opportunities even as a student to perform in some of the company productions. I received a contract after my first full-time year in the Pre-Professional Programme.
I am now in my third year as Company Artist and looking forward to performing in the exciting ballets which are on the calendar. At Queensland Ballet we perform classic ballets as well as brand new works and contemporary pieces, too. This has all been put on hold because of Covid-19, but I truly believe we will be stronger after this and have a new appreciation for the performances that lie ahead!
What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you were a student?
I wish I knew that although you can be as prepared as possible technically and physically, it’s not just about that! You have to be extremely confident and mentally prepared for company life, too, as once you are in a company it’s as much about staying on top of your mental game as it is about staying on top of your physical game.
Read more inspiring personal accounts of student life in our annual pullout Full-Time Studies Guide in Spring (September/October/November) issue - OUT NOW! Buy your copy from your favourite dance shop or online here.