Meet Gianna Sargent

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Gianna Sargent performing in ‘Giselle’ with Antonio Russo. Photo: Erfans Photography
Gianna Sargent performing in ‘Giselle’ with Antonio Russo. Photo: Erfans Photography

After completing her studies in Perth, this young dancer is presently undertaking her Bachelor II at Akademie des Tanzes Mannheim, Germany.

Where did you undertake your full-time training?

I attended Charlesworth Ballet Institute in my hometown of Perth for 11-and-a-half years – six-and-a-half of them were in the full-time program. I completed Grade 7 to 12 graduation via School of Isolated and Distance Education. I also completed a certificate III and IV and ATAR Dance with Charlesworth.

What discoveries did you make?

I discovered a love for contemporary and Spanish. I had previously done a small amount of these styles but my appreciation for them grew when I started full-time. I really value learning styles other than ballet because there are many things that you can take from them and apply to your ballet that can take you to the next level.

I also discovered an interest in choreography and improvisation which we had many opportunities to do at Charlesworth. In year 11 and 12 ATAR Dance we studied the works of many companies and I enjoyed dissecting the ideas and reasons behind the choreography.

Did you change your mind or have a change of attitude about your career goals?

I never had a change of mind in regard to wanting to become a professional ballerina, not even after a serious reoccurring injury. I did however realise that I wanted to dance somewhere that also did contemporary and that eventually I want to choreograph.  

What was one of the main life lessons you gained from full-time studies?

I learnt so many important lessons, I could not narrow it down to one. I learnt discipline, perseverance, how to work intelligently and how to work for yourself and not for the approval of others. I really had to learn to time-manage when juggling online school and full days of dance on top of other things. And finally, the importance of getting out of your comfort zone.

What is your best memory of your studies?

Any of the countless performances we did! We had so many opportunities from a little stage under a gazebo to a massive theatre.  I enjoyed the whole process from rehearsal to the end result. My last performance, although sad, was one of my favourite shows. My main part was the peasant pas de deux from Giselle. Each of the girls in my class got to perform a pas de deux with a guest partner from overseas. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.

I was told this but I wish I would have let myself believe it: to trust the process because you won’t be perfect overnight. Be kind to yourself; you would never beat someone else down for falling out of a pirouette. 

Since this article was written, the academy in Germany closed because of the pandemic and Gianna went to stay with family in Ireland until September. "This ended up being for the best because all classes were online, and I wouldn’t have had the space in my apartment in Germany or the company from family," she says. "Of course it wasn’t the same as being in a studio, however I still felt that I progressed since I had a lot of time to focus on my weaknesses. I was very grateful to have these online classes because it gave me structure and purpose during the toughest time. I also picked up some new hobbies including hiking and cycling. I climbed Croagh Patrick which is the holiest mountain in Ireland and I also worked in a pharmacy during the summer."

The academy postponed students' end-of-year exams. "When we came back in September," she explains, "we had a month to prepare. I’m now in the third year and almost all of our classes are back to normal. We have rules such as the distancing and disinfecting and for some classes we have to split the class in half and half the time. Germany is in 'lockdown light' at the moment but thankfully my academy is still open."

Gianna Sargent 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. 

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