Christine Howard's studio experience …
My training at The Australian Ballet School commenced in March 1969 and during those years I have fond memories of inspiring classes taught by our Founding Director Margaret Scott, Douglas Gilchrist, modern with Jack Manuel, notation with Elphine Allen and the inspiring character classes with Mde Marina Berezowsky. All forged an excellent foundation of training and understanding of the industry.
My stage experience ….
During my training at the School I was fortunate to perform in Garth Welch’s Othello, Ray Powell’s ballet Italian Symphony & Mde Marina Berezowsky’s character ballet Samovar with fellow students John Meehan, David Burch, Leigh Warren, Gary Norman, Michela Kirkaldie, Julia Cotton, Olga Cook, Gail Ferguson all luminaries of the classical ballet world. During that time ABS performed at The Princess Theatre here in Melbourne.
My pathway to teaching …
My introduction to teaching commenced as a teacher trainee at ABS during 1975. I thank Dame Margaret Scott for the opportunity to work with students in the first year character classes, under the tutorship and watchful eye of Berezowsky - providing me with the foundation of training and outlining a sequential pathway to learning her curriculum. How lucky was I!
It was during this time that I became aware of my interest in teaching.
I performed with The Kolobok Dance Company (Principal Dancer & Assistant to the Director) in Australia’s first professional character/folkloric dance company, performing throughout Australia for two years.
From 1977 – 1980 I had two of my three children and fortunately had opportunities to teach for the wonderfully inspiring Audrey Nicholls & Eve King (former principals of Borovansky Ballet) and where I commenced my formative classical training.
A position of character teacher at The Australian Ballet School was offered to me at the beginning of 1980 due to the departure of Berezowsky (who needed to concentrate on the programming and future of her Company. I have worked continuously from 1980 until today.
During my years at the School I had the wonderful opportunity to perform in Mark Annear’s delightful Picnic at Hanging Rock as the Head Mistress featuring Kirsty Martin as Miranda) Leigh Rowle’s Nutcracker (adult guest), Swan Lake (Queen) at the Myer Music Bowl, many performances of Grandma in Petal Miller Ashmole’s Snow Queen and more recently Mother in Sylvide all memorably sharing the stage with colleagues and students. I also guested with The Australian Ballet in Sleeping Beauty (Queen), Anna Karenina (Mde Vronsky), Stephen Baynes Raymonda (Queen) and Lady in Waiting in his recent Swan Lake. Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker (Emigree) and Alexi Ratmansky’s Scualo de Ballo (Mother) all made possible with the support of the current Director.
Behind The Scenes - highlights
From 1990 my commitments expanded to include student and school administrative duties particularly supporting the community in the concept and establishment of Student Leadership roles & setting up of the House System- maintaining a social consciousness by supporting student fundraising efforts and being part of the development and significance of the Graduation ceremony and the expansion of the annual Summer School.
Being part of the development to digitally archive the current Character Training Programme, an exciting exchange to Houston Ballet Academy in 2016, creating an additional learning out come to the Level 6 training programme – (with the use of voice) choreographing a Character Defile for Showcase 2016 and being part of the continuous progress and direction of TABS.
It has been an absolute privilege and honour to work for The Australian Ballet School, its four Directors, the amazing, generous charismatic artistic & administrative staff and gifted to work with Australia’s most talented students – I thank them all! I look forward to the future and teaching again in 2020 with optimism and enthusiasm.