The New Zealand School of Dance is well known as the tertiary institution of choice for dancers wishing to train full-time towards a career in ballet or contemporary dance. As the school celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2012, its role in nurturing New Zealand's young dance talent has been highlighted with the re-launch of two aspirational programmes for school-aged dancers.
The New Zealand School of Dance Associates and Scholars programmes provide specialised tuition in classical ballet and contemporary dance to exceptionally talented students in the years leading up to professional training. Dancers are chosen for this part-time training by audition, ensuring those with ability can take class with similarly talented dancers while also continuing classes with their local dance teacher. Special classes and immersion in the school's full-time courses give students first-hand experience of the New Zealand School of Dance teachers, training style and facilities.
The new Associates and Scholars programmes have developed out of the Junior Associates and Regional Associates programmes provided by the school since 2000. A number of dancers who have been through this early training have continued on to complete two or three year qualifications at the school. Some of these students have gained contracts on graduation with leading companies including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Footnote Dance among others.
The evolution of these programmes in 2012 reflects the school's focus on the future and an expansion of delivery at these levels. A tiered structure has been introduced to the new Associates programme, with students progressing through the programme as Junior, Intermediate and Senior Associates. The Associates programme identifies both ballet and contemporary dance students aged 13 - 16 who have an aptitude for a career in performance. Associates will travel from throughout the country to the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington for four weekends annually and, once a year join the full-time students for an immersion week.
The New Zealand School of Dance Scholars programme takes classical ballet students from the age of ten (year 6 at primary school) through a series of levels. Class sizes are small and the ballet training is supported by allied subjects such as Pilates. The level of technique taught and the frequency of classes increase annually to the age of 16 to prepare dancers to audition for the school's full-time programmes. While the Scholars programme focuses primarily on dancers from the Lower North Island, under special circumstances students from other regions are invited to participate, with students in 2012 coming from as far afield as the Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Southland.
The New Zealand School of Dance has a 45-year history, a reputation for excellence and a tradition of supporting young dancers with potential. The Associates and Scholars programmes provide the best foundation on the path to becoming a professional dancer and for students aspiring to further training at New Zealand School of Dance.
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