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Local Studio that is Inspiring the Next Generation of Ballet Dancers

Jul 2, 2024

At just 16 years old, Mikaela Shedden has already danced her way to international acclaim. Starting ballet just four years ago, she quickly realised she needed to dedicate herself fully to the craft. Training more than 40 hours a week at The Ballet School Australia (TBSA), some days from 10 am until 9 pm, her commitment led to an invitation to the prestigious 5-week Summer Intensive in Houston, Texas – a program notoriously difficult to get into. Shedden, who left school after Year 10 to pursue ballet, says, “I knew I was already behind so I needed to catch up; I decided I had to risk something for it.”

Shedden’s story is just one example of the dedication fostered at TBSA, based in Windsor in the Hawkesbury since 2019. The school was established in the early 1980s in partnership with professional ballet dancer Elaine Fifield. Under the guidance of Noeleyne Wilson, TBSA’s headteacher, the school has cultivated a nurturing environment for budding dancers. Wilson, who has performed alongside ballet legends like Margot Fonteyn and Ivan Nagy, ensures her teaching staff is “very experienced,” helping students become “well-rounded” dancers.

Wilson’s approach to ballet education is unique, focusing heavily on the mental and physical health of the students and the safety of their bodies – a lesson she learned first-hand after an injury curtailed her own dancing career as a teenager. This philosophy is embodied in programs like her ‘Stretch and Strength’ classes and anatomy lessons, which have proven so effective that Wilson proudly states her students have never sustained an injury “in all my years of teaching.”

Another promising student, 14-year-old Charles Miles, has been with TBSA for 10 years, starting dance at just four years old. He describes his time at the studio as being part of a “family.” Miles is now training hard to achieve his goal of being accepted into the New Zealand Company. His recent acceptance into the Alberta Summer School, a three-week course in Canada, will provide him with an invaluable glimpse into Alberta’s full-time ballet program. This opportunity includes daily ballet classes and exposure to various dance styles and training programs.

As TBSA prepares Shedden for her big move to Canada for a full-time Intensive Course later this year, Wilson says; “I’ve got a different approach to a lot of teachers. It’s very focused on the students and the individual as they work.” The school’s commitment to individualised care and rigorous training ensures that students like Shedden and Miles are not only equipped to succeed but to excel in the demanding world of professional ballet. Shedden, looking forward to her future, says she is “excited to see where this will take me.”

 

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