Christine Walsh AM


The Australian Conservatoire of Ballet was founded, authored, and developed by former Principal Artist of The Australian Ballet, Christine Walsh AM in 1991. Adapting the existing Russian eight-year Vaganova method training to become a 12-year training and examination program for part-time students. Since its inception, the success of the school and its training program has led to regular teacher seminars and examination sessions, workshops, study tours, scholarships, job placements, full-length ballet productions with its own orchestra, international ballet galas, and dance festivals.

As a result of the ACB’s intensive training program, ACB graduate students have been or are currently in employment such as The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet and West Australian Ballet, and other international ballet and dance companies.

Due to the international scope of the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet training syllabus and to separate the identity of its school, the training program syllabus was renamed Ballet Conservatoire (BC).

Ballet Conservatoire now has more than 400 member teachers in 13 countries.


Russian Vaganova-based method.


Certificate and written report with graded results: Pass 50-59%, Pass Plus 60-69%, Commended 70-79%, Highly Commended 80-89% and Distinction 90% and above. Distinction students receive a special recognition medal.


Teachers become provisionally qualified after completing Ballet Conservatoire’s Teacher Training Seminar 1, which covers the Ballet Conservatoire syllabus levels from Pre-Primary to Level 4. After submitting students for exams successfully, the teacher receives full teacher registration and is eligible for Seminar 2 (encompassing Level 5 and Senior Level) and following this, Seminar 3 (Excellence). Regular teaching seminars are held both in person and online in Australia and various countries throughout the year.


Ballet Conservatoire training scholarships and an annual scholarship award to one finalist at the Sydney Eisteddfod.

Amanda Bollinger

Ballet Conservatoire teacher and international examiner, Studio owner.

What was the procedure to qualify to be an examiner/teacher?

To be qualified as a teacher, I needed to take a Ballet Conservatoire Seminar and then submit students successfully for exams. To be qualified as an examiner, I was required to have many years of experience in successfully teaching and sending students in the Ballet Conservatoire training program. Thorough knowledge of the details in all levels of the syllabus was essential to becoming a Ballet Conservatoire examiner coupled with having a keen eye for recognising the technical and artistic potential of students of all ages.

What drew you to this syllabus/organisation?

Having trained in the Vaganova method of classical ballet in my pre-professional years at the Berlin State Ballet School, and dancing professionally in Europe, I relocated to Australia and was sure that I wanted to continue teaching this method. The Vaganova method has such beautiful use of the upper body embedded into the technique, right from an early age, and the transition to professional dancer is seamless! So when I heard that Christine Walsh had developed a training and examination program based on this method, there was no doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted to teach in my own school. I love Christine’s attention to detail and how the syllabus develops the students technically, but also artistically and musically. For students wishing to pursue a career in classical ballet, the Ballet Conservatoire program lays wonderful foundations, and for those who choose to follow another path: these children have learnt ballet correctly, with pure technique. After 20 years of teaching this syllabus I have seen the huge benefits of the program in the students I have sent overseas, and I am a very proud BC teacher and examiner!

What is the purpose of exams and why do you think they are beneficial?

Examinations or assessments give an indication of where not only the student, but also the teachers are at, in terms of technical understanding, and artistic development, and help both student and teacher learn where areas of improvement lie.

Examinations are an important part of a dancer’s training, as the students can work towards achieving short-term goals in their syllabus work, with each exam being a stepping stone towards the most advanced levels and eventually a professional career in some cases. The students learn that the finer details of their technique, the choreography and the musicality are very important when they are polishing and honing their exam exercises - and these skills then carry through into their performance work, where the steps need to be performed with precision.

I believe exams/assessments are a crucial part of developing a dancer’s technique, physicality, musicality and mindset - and the slow and steady progression through the syllabus levels is important, as it breaks up these skills into achievable pieces appropriate to each stage of a young dancer’s growth.

What response do you receive from the children in exams?

Most candidates enter the examination room fairly nervous, so my first priority is to try to put them at ease with a friendly smile and greeting. Usually the students then start to relax and are able to dance well. Most children are excited to show the examiner their work, and proud to have reached this milestone in their training. As an examiner I really enjoy assessing students who are well prepared, understand the etiquette of the occasion, and show their love of dance. As a teacher, it is very rewarding to see the joy and pride in each student after completing their exam, and the excitement of moving on to the new level.

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