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Choosing a Full Time Dance Course

If you’re serious about dance, a full time course may have crossed your mind. Full time dance schools and courses are available all over Australia, including here in Perth. But how do you know if it’s for you or which one to choose? This week I spoke with Kristen Tubbs and Paige Albuino, two of our students who embarked on full time courses in Sydney. They answered some questions about their journey, from auditioning to moving interstate, and what they hope to do next.

When did you decided you wanted to do a fully time course and how did you choose which one?

Kristen: During year 11 & 12 I always had it in the back of my mind that I would love to do a full time course, but it was more of a dream and I kind of presumed I would always go straight to Uni. It wasn’t until during my WACE mock exams I realised that I didn’t know what I really wanted to do at Uni and decided to apply. I was really lucky that there were still some spots left. I applied at Village Nation and Ettingshausens PRO. I went over to Sydney for a couple of days and went to the full time schools and got to meet the owners and a couple of the teachers. This made it a lot easier to decide where to go based on the vibe of the school and what they offered.

Paige: I decided I wanted to do a full time course when I first discovered that they existed! I had so many options and honestly would’ve been grateful to go to any full time school offered to me. There was something about Lee Academy that stood out to me over the other schools I was accepted into. I think it was the nature of the school and their connections to bigger companies like Cirque Du Soleil. The fact that I dance everyday with artists from Cirque Du Soleil, Dragone, Moulin Rouge and many more still blows my mind.

How did you find the audition process? How did you audition?

Kristen: I auditioned online, which I’m sure was far less nerve racking. For both schools you had to send a 1 minute video of you performing 3 different styles, I used snippets of my dance vision solo videos. For Village I also had to record some ballet exercises and a 30 second video of me introducing myself. For Ettingshausens I had a phone interview with the course coordinator.

Paige: I auditioned for Lee Academy as well as many other eastern state schools at ADF in 2018. The audition process was a KTL (Kicks, Turns & Leaps) workshop in which we did across the floor progressions then a KTL combo in the centre. A few of us girls were then picked out to perform the combo in smaller groups and this must have been when they scouted their next generation of full timers. I found the audition super fun and stress free especially because it was KTL which I would say is my strong suit.

After you were accepted, what types of things did you have to organise? How did you feel about moving state?

Kristen: The first thing was where I was going to live. Through Ettingshausens they had some home stay options available, so they put me in contact with one of the home owners. I had a chat to her on the phone so we could get to know each other and see if we thought we would get along. I looked up the public transport system and made sure I would be able to get around ok as I didn’t bring my car over. I got another job for a couple of months to save some more money and I had more time now that I had finished school. I spent a long time packing and made multiple lists because I didn’t want to forget anything. The whole time I wasn’t nervous or worried at all, just sad because I knew I was going to miss my friends and family.

Paige: Being accepted into a full time school was one of my biggest goals in life so when I received that email I was on cloud 9 and nothing could've made me happier that day. I had to of course have a deep discussion with my parents as moving across the country wasn’t simple. There was so much preparation done in those 3 months between me being accepted and me moving. We started with finding a place to live then went into things like shipping my car over and organising how I was going to pay for everything. I felt excited about moving. I was so in love with the idea of moving out and growing up. I still am but I do miss living at home and I’ll forever be grateful for everything my parents do for me.

Once you moved how did you find it initially?

Kristen: Initially I hated it. At the course it wasn’t too bad as we were kept busy, but after course I just felt a bit lost as I was used to dancing after school hours and was used to coming home to my family. I got a casual job not too long after I moved over though so that kept me busy and really helped things. Also we had assignments with written components so that helped as well. I really missed my family and just Perth in general as nothing in Sydney was familiar. The family I lived with and the students in the course were all really lovely so as time went on things definitely got better!

Paige: Moving to NSW was harder than I thought. I was so excited to begin my training that I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be leaving my family and friends and moving out of home. I got very homesick my first year here and yes thought to myself many times “Do I actually want to do this”. Moving away from home is hard, but all my incredible friends over here make everything so much easier and support me more than I ever could have ever wished for. I think moving back home to WA is now going to be just as hard as it was moving to NSW because of the new relationships and incredible memories I’ve made.

Describe a typical day of your full time course.

Kristen: A typical day would be from 8:30-3:30 and consist of 4 classes all for 1.5 hours each. Usually it would be one class in the morning, 15 minute morning tea break, another class then lunch and 2 classes in the afternoon. This was the ‘typical’ schedule but there was always something going on so it changed a lot. We had weekly classes in Commercial Jazz, Broadway Jazz, Contemporary, Tap, Acrobatics, Technique, Ballet, Hip Hop, Latin, Acting, Singing and Musical Theatre. We also had some Lyrical, Commercial Heels, Pilates classes and many sit down closes where we focused on mental health and our well-being. In the lead up to a gig and graduation in term 4 everyday was different rehearsing routines and the schedule would often change throughout the day as well.

Paige: Usually I get to dancing around 8:30am for a 9am start. Then the days vary from Monday to Friday. We train in styles such as KTL, Ballet, Contemporary, Commercial, Musical Theatre, Singing, Heel Technique, Pointe, Acrobatics, Aerial, Aerial Fly, Hip Hop, Tap, and then every Friday night I’m blessed to be a part of a company called aKrobatiKa in which we rehearse every week 4:15pm - 8:30pm. Monday - Thursday I usually finish between 5pm and 6pm. They are long training days but honestly they fly by because of how much we do and how much I enjoy it.

Once your course finished/finishes, what do you hope to do with your new knowledge/skills?

Kristen: To be honest I’m still not really sure. I love dancing but am not sure I’d like it to be my only career. I’m currently studying Nutrition which is another one of my passions. I’ve been going to lots of open classes around Perth and hoping that performance opportunities start again now that Covid restrictions are easing.

Paige: Once my course finishes I hope to continue my training and pass all my new learnt knowledge to the next upcoming generation. Of course, I’ll still be attending auditions and hoping one day I’ll sign a contract, but I’m more looking to teach and encourage other people to go out and do what I did.

Any advice for someone hoping to do a full time course here or interstate?

Kristen: Doing a full time course here would be very different as you would still be able to continue doing what you do now outside of course hours. Moving interstate your whole lifestyle changes. Before I moved I thought many times what I would be doing during course hours but not so much how different things would be after hours and on weekends.

My best advice would be that it does get tough and everyone gets very emotional but it’s so worth it so just keep going. Also just take everything in that any of the teachers say and don’t take it for granted.

Paige: It’s not easy but neither is dance. You have to fight for what you want because once you start training it’s more about you believing in yourself rather than others believing in you. I was so confident before I started full time but critiquing yourself in a mirror 24/7, 5 days a week is not easy. Dance can be very brutal especially to the mind but if you love it with all your heart you’ll find away to get past all that. Also picking a full time school interstate is incredible! You get to meet people who have grown up almost in a different world to you and making new friends is the most magical thing in life.

We are so proud of both of you and can’t wait see what you achieve!

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