Proteges leap into cyber masterclasses

Melbourne Ballet School student Nathan Thomson with his mentor Nathan Brook on screen.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Rising stars at a Noble Park ballet school have converted their lounge rooms into dance studios to be mentored by some of Australia’s best during the lockdown.

The five Melbourne Ballet School students are being paired with company dancers from the Australian Ballet for online ZOOM meetings over three weeks.

Before starting, the proteges Alexandra Surenian, Nathan Thomson, Maleesa Liyanage, Jasmine Hamit and Thahnita Pumpa practised choreography from the famous ballet Giselle.

They then took intensive lessons from their respective Australian Ballet mentors Amber Scott, Nathan Brook, Jade Wood, Jill Ogai and Benedicte Bemet.

Alexandra, 11, says she hopes to follow in the pirouetted footsteps of her mentor Ms Scott, a principal dancer at Australian Ballet since 2011.

Their first lesson focused mainly on technique. “It was really cool,” Alex says.

Alex’s parents enrolled her in ballet at age 3 to boost her confidence. She loved it from the start.

She now gleefully performs before audiences of hundreds, including Greater Dandenong’s Big Day Out festival and her ballet school’s renditions of The Nutcracker and Alice In Wonderland.

This year, Alex had qualified at national titles in Queensland, which were sadly cancelled due to the pandemic.

Melbourne Ballet School principal Michelle Johnson said she had been approached by the Australian Ballet to take part in the Virtual Mentoring Program.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of and I think something lovely to come out of this lockdown.“

Though its studio is closed, Melbourne Ballet School is running more than 30 classes online for six days a week.

“We have around half our students still participating in these.”

“Adult jazz and hip hop (online) classes have been very successful with lots of parents joining these and lots from outside our area.”

The school offers ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop and musical theatre for students as young as three.


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