In the midst of Term Two, I’m sure we all agree that 2020 is a most unusual year.
The school year began with a wonderful rush of energy and enthusiasm from our students (both returning and new) and staff in Term One. It was heart-warming to see many of our recent graduates return to the building, this time to commence their professional careers with The Australian Ballet.
Witnessing the commitment of our students, both in the studios and classrooms, is always a great pleasure. It was also heartening to watch the students work together so beautifully to raise funds to support the CFA following the bushfires in a student-led bake sale. Preparations were underway for senior students to tour to Canada to represent Australia in the Assemblée Internationale 2020 (AI20) dance festival.
In the last week of March, it became apparent that Term One would end early due to COVID-19, and we would be unable to return to our facilities in Term Two. Like everyone, The Australian Ballet School had to innovate and adapt to this new environment.
The Australian Ballet School remains committed to delivering a dance training programme that upholds the artistic standards of our elite organisation and one that includes the highest provision of safety for our students. Our Staff and Board are working tirelessly to ensure that we can deliver the 2020 curriculum with the greatest success.
Our offices and studios have been closed since March. Marilyn Rowe House, our boarding house and home-away-from-home for our international and interstate students, is also closed. Our students are home, safe with their families. Staff have been working remotely, adapting to new ways of operating and transitioning to an online mode of delivery.
Students commenced Term Two via remote learning, with a focus on maintaining peak physiological and mental health in preparation for the rest of the year. I’m so impressed by the readiness of our students to adapt to online assemblies, allied subjects, conditioning classes, and meetings with our teachers and health and wellbeing staff. At the end of our first week in this brave new world, we received encouraging feedback from both parents and students. They have our unwavering support and, together, we will get through this.
Along with remote learning, we launched the Level 8 mentor program this term. Our Level 8 students met their mentors, all of whom are professional artists of The Australian Ballet. We are also working on a collaborative digital initiative with elite ballet schools around the world. We look forward to sharing more about this soon.
As we evolved through this new way of learning during the term, forward planning for Terms Three and Four at The Australian Ballet School remained a top priority and spanned every imaginable scenario including training, assessment and performance opportunities. We are taking a staged approach to the return to onsite learning, and will deliver a combination of onsite and remote learning for the remainder of Term Two. Working within government restrictions, and recognising that Victoria's state of emergency has been extended by three weeks to 21 June, health and safety will remain a priority as we ease the students back into the studios and classrooms. As always, we remain hopeful and courageous as we look to the future.
We know that many young and aspiring young dancers have been working hard to prepare for The Australian Ballet School’s Scholarship Awards and auditions. Like many others, we had to cancel or postpone special events, performances and activities planned between March and July. We plan to reschedule the Scholarship Awards for 2021. Though our annual National Audition Tour has been cancelled, we encourage aspiring students to submit a digital audition. You can find out more and submit a digital audition here.
We thank our community for your patience and support as we continue, in these most unusual circumstances, to prepare the next generation of Australian ballet dancers.
We can’t wait for the day that we can return to our facilities and fill the studios with enthusiastic learning and exquisite dancing again. For now, I thank you for your ongoing interest in The Australian Ballet School. I hope you stay safe and well.
Lisa Pavane, Director