Teacher spotlight - Elena de Cinque
Elena de Cinque is the founder/director of ED5International.
ED5 International in Sydney is a flourishing school – buzzing with about 500 enthusiastic performing arts students and about 35 equally enthusiastic staff. It is also the personal joy and pride of its founding director, Elena de Cinque. “I’ve dedicated my whole life to it,” she says. “I went with my heart.”
Cinque’s love of dance began at about age seven, when she started classes at her local school in Leichhardt. By age 13 she had completed all her jazz, ballet and tap classes with honours or high distinction. By the time she had done her HSC, and “mature beyond her years”, she had completed her Australian Teachers of Dance diplomas in business and child psychology, and had already found her calling – teaching dance.
After a year expanding her horizons in Rome she returned home (with a new husband, Mario) and wasted no time setting up a school. She chose a sight in Cabarita and took in her first eight students. Now, 20 years later, the school has swelled to a large, five-studio premise in the picturesque old Arnott’s Factory site in North Strathfield and boasts dozens of high achieving alumni, particularly in musical theatre.
ED5 International consists of a junior school (up to age 18) and a two-year full-time ASQA accredited Advanced Diploma course for serious students. The course is unique to the school, as Cinque wrote it herself, in response to “a gap we saw in the market where training for the entertainment industry was concerned”, she explains. “It goes back to my own experience as a young student, where I felt there was a lack of guidance as to how to make the move from student to professional. I wanted a create place where people could get all the disciplines they require.”
Passion attracts passion, as Cinque says, and in 2006 she was thrilled when the sought-after, incredibly prolific choreographer William B Forsythe asked to be on the team. “I first approached Elena and Mario to become their business partner because I loved their work ethic and I felt connected to what they believed in for future performers,” he says.
“I loved their drive and ambition but also the amount of heart they had for their students.
I knew we had different skill sets but I knew together we could make something very special and could influence the future of the entertainment business.”
The three co-directors consider themselves and their students as “family” and their dedication and has paid off in droves. The number of entertainers now employed around the world, on Broadway, West End and in Australia, is too many to list here, but the school is represented in just about every music theatre show on land, sea and film.
One of the keys to Cinque’s approach is in her choice of dance competitions. You will not see ED5 students appearing in a hectic schedule of local eisteddfods. Instead, Cinque prefers to take a group of juniors every two or three years to competitions or workshops in the US or Europe, where they gain invaluable, cultural exchange and experience.
“Apart from what they learn, it just excites the children, gives them a goal, makes them work harder and what they learn in one year is like three years of regular classes.” Students can compete in local competitions in alternate years.
For advanced students, the Diploma course offers a unique focus on learning how to audition.
“A lot of people think that with fulltime training you have all the skills and then you go and audition for the show,” Cinque says. “But it’s not about doing the show – you can do the show. It’s whether you have the skills to get through an audition to get into the show.”
2020 started as a big year for ED5 International – it is 30th anniversary of
the junior school and the full-time course’s twentieth. In addition, Cinque’s dedication
to teaching was recognised in April by the Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association, which awarded her with its 2020 Meskell Award, an honorary award which recognises significant achievement, distinction, outstanding and lifetime service.
– KAREN VAN ULZEN
Elena de Cinque is featured 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.