Meet Amelia Townsend
Amelia Townsend first trained at her mother's dance studio, Annette Roselli Dance Academy, in Brisbane. She loved learning almost every style of dance as well as rhythmic gymnastics. As she progressed to full-time dance, however, “I knew I could no longer dedicate myself to everything as well as make my dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer come true,” she says. “(I think I was exhausting my parents, trying to keep up with all my activities!) Ballet then became my primary focus as well as contemporary. Of course, during my studies I also tried to keep up various other styles of dance because I believe being versatile as a dancer is important.”
She auditioned successfully for the Australian Ballet School and left home for Melbourne. Then, at the age of 16, she was accepted into the Royal Ballet School (RBS) in London. She moved again, and graduated three years later.
As part of the final year curriculum of the RBS, students are prepared for auditions and company experience. There is no final audition for the Royal Ballet; instead, the company’s director and other staff watch the yearly assessments. Amelia was offered a position with the Royal Ballet four months into her final year.
She is now happily thriving in the company. She describes her daily schedule.
“A normal day begins around 10:30am,” she explains. “If there is a performance that night we will finish at 10:30pm and if there is no show we usually finish at 6:30pm. As we do many productions throughout the season there is never a dull moment and we are always working to the next show. We often rehearse many different ballets at the same time and not just the next upcoming one. It’s definitely not an easy life but it is very exciting. I’ve been so grateful to work with
so many talented and brilliant people throughout my time at the Royal Ballet.”
She admits, however, that during her full-time studies she did have her bad days. “I would be dishonest if I said I’d never thought about giving up when going through a challenging time. I think that is what I find so inspiring about dancers, especially the colleagues I work with. The ability to push through even when you’re too tired to get out of bed in the morning: these are the moments that make you not only a stronger dancer but a stronger person in everyday life. Deep down I know how much I love it and how much I would miss this life if I didn't push through it.”
What is one of the main life lessons she gained from full-time studies?
“Discipline and structure,” she replies. “Even if I didn't become a professional dancer I believe having these skills is important for everyone in life. I think many people are purely focused on getting a job. That is important, but we often forget how many valuable lessons will stay with us, even after our career is over. It is a valuable lesson, dancer or not, to be able to get up every morning, start fresh and work towards your goals.”
She still nominates her RBS graduation performance as her career highlight. “It was a feeling I cannot describe,” she remembers, “– knowing how hard I had worked for the past 14 years and realising that it was all over. I was proud of what I had pushed through and was so excited for the next part of my journey. I remember it hit me during our final section in the grand defile at the Royal Opera House. My friends and I cried the whole way through it. Definitely a moment I won’t forget!”
Amelia Townsend is profiled in our annual pullout Full-Time Studies Guide in Spring (September/October/November) issue - make sure you grab your copy before it leaves the shelves! See our special 40% off Christmas offer: one year (four issues) print + digital for only $31!