Emma Sandall answers readers' questions.
Q How does Australia compare to other parts of the world (USA, Europe) in preparing young aspiring dancers for a potential career in dance? In which areas do you consider Australia excels, in comparison to other approaches? - Mother of aspiring ballet dancer
Australia has excellent dance training institutions that are absolutely comparable to the best in the world. We have up-to-date, relevant and appropriate curricula and highly experienced teachers in both our government subsidised full-time academies and tertiary institutions, as well as in our numerous private full-time schools. On top of that we have some terrific youth companies and pre-professional programs. I have no hesitation in endorsing a full dance education in Australia.
However the question of where a particular young and aspiring dancer will gain most benefit is subjective. It's about finding the teachers and institutions that best suit the student’s talent, style, personality and ambition – on top of an institution’s affordability and the practicality of sending a student overseas! At a certain age young dancers and their families have to face the reality of a career in dance and at that point it becomes necessary to look seriously at all the options – including those overseas.
Overseas institutions have one key advantage over Australian ones – exposure. Many aspiring Australian dancers in their mid-to-late teens head towards Europe and America to continue their dance education not only for the quality and reputation of the institutions, but for the number and diversity of career opportunities after their training. Due to population density, geography and culture there are more companies and more dancers. On a regular basis, students are exposed to both a broader and deeper range of dance styles and dancers, which can make the idea of where to go once they graduate and how to get there more realistic and achievable.
In saying that, it is important to bear in mind that an education at an overseas institution is very costly, even on full scholarship, and can be emotionally tough on families. Also, there’s the issue of working visas – if the family does not have immediate British heritage, an American Green Card or a European passport, job prospects after graduation are slender...
This is an extract from Emma Sandall's regular Ask Emma feature, in the February March issue of Dance Australia... OUT NOW! Don't miss out. Look out for the new issue at your favourite magazine retailer or subscribe here, or purchase an online copy via the Dance Australia app.
Pictured: Natasha Kusen at the Australian Ballet. Find out what she has to say on the subject in the current issue of Dance Australia. Photo: Daniel Boud.