PSB Elite

PSB Elite logo v2 with tagline

The Perth School of Ballet Elite Program (known as PSB Elite) is designed for committed ballet and contemporary dance students aiming for a career in dance.

PSB Elite is recognised as one of the top Full Time programs in Australia and is founded on the following principles:

  • Providing a complete, well-developed program with clearly developed outcomes for each level from Foundation to pre-professional training in Level 8
  • Emphasis on developing underlying strength and control for the ballet body which is crucial to achieving the technical requirements of dance.
  • A commitment to work with teachers with a strong background in ballet and contemporary dance training.
    • Many of our teachers have had illustrious careers in ballet and contemporary and are hungry to impart their knowledge and experience to the next generation.
    • PSB also employs a core group of accredited teachers with more than a decade of experience in teaching young dancers.
  • An integrated training program based on the following building blocks:
    • Ceccheti Ballet technique
    • ISTD Modern Dance (foundation for Contemporary)
    • Open classes using Vaganova, RAD and other types of ballet training.
  • A focus on artistry, musicality and stage craft – defining the individual quality of each student. Students work on a daily basis with teachers who have had brilliant careers in dance and who themselves have mastered the beautiful artistry required of a dancer.
  • Ensuring ‘best practice’ training techniques are used to ensure minimal injury and maximum efficiency of one’s body.
  • Strong collaboration with families, academic schools and allied health professionals to provide a holistic support team for each student.

Program Overview

Teachers and Coaches
Bringing out the best in dance students calls for teaching and mentoring staff of the highest caliber. The PSB Elite program employs a core group of accredited teachers with more than a decade of experience in teaching young dancers. Also, many of the program teachers have had renowned careers in ballet and contemporary and are committed to pass on their years of experience to a new generation of dancers. Students work daily basis with these teachers who have had brilliant careers in dance and have mastered the beautiful artistry required of a dancer.

Founding Directors Simone Jackson-Pike and Janine Ban each have more than 25 years’ experience in training young dancers. Their expertise is unparalleled and they have been known to produce ‘miracles’ with many students. Director Kathryn Harris has been a leader in teaching Modern and Contemporary Dance for over 15 years. Together with the three directors, all PSB Elite teachers are accredited and have lifelong experience with dance and are dedicated to their craft.

Internationally renowned as a prima ballerina, Margaret Illmann joined PSB Elite teaching team in 2016. Margaret brings a new level of expertise to the program. As an advisor for Elite Programs she has helped design the 8-Level program in every aspect. As a trained physiotherapist, Margaret has contributed significantly to the PSB Elite injury prevention program.

Benazir Surtees, Dame Lucette Aldous, Chrissie Parrott, Floeur Alder, have all had memorable dance careers the world over. Each offers a special area of expertise which, when combined, provides an unparalleled level of dance training.

These ‘stars of the dance stage’ ensure that PSB Elite students are trained in technique and artistry that is required of a professional dancer throughout the world. This generational passing down of first hand knowledge from original choreographers to artists to students is an important training feature of the program and is an enormous advantage to students.

In addition to the full time teaching staff, former and current dance professionals from West Australian Ballet, Western Australia’s flagship contemporary dance company – Co3, and other dance companies from both Australia and overseas are frequently brought in to the program as Guest Teachers.

Ballet Program
Through PSB Elite, the Perth School of Ballet is one of only a handful of schools in Australia offering elite level ballet training that is founded on the principles of the Cecchetti Method.

The Cecchetti Method of teaching classical ballet includes a very full vocabulary of movement, including exercises composed by Enrico Cecchetti for the development of strength, balance, poise and elevation. The port de bras, or exercises to develop grace and coordination of the arms, are generally admitted to be unequalled. A well-trained Cecchetti dancer has a purity of line and simplicity of style which enables them to take their place in dance companies of other genres as well as classical ballet.

PSB Elite incorporates the Cecchetti Method with a variety of syllabi designed to augment the student’s ability to compete, audition and work in any ballet situation. Hard, fast open classes, are run several times a week to train students to cope in difficult audition and competition situations. Work on Repertoire solos is also incorporated into the schedule as well as Pointe classes and Pas de Deux. Together these elements combine to form a wholistic ballet training program that addresses all components of professional ballet.

Contemporary Dance Program
A sound Contemporary Dance training must be founded in several ‘styles’ of this genre of dance. Indeed, Contemporary dance can greatly vary depending on the origins of each style technique. For this reason, PSB Elite ensures that teachers are experienced in vastly different styles to ensure students have an array of techniques at their disposal.

Foundation classes based on Martha Graham technique are taught using the ISTD Modern program. ISTD Modern provides a grounding and understanding of Contemporary dance. Students trained in ISTD Modern are found to progress more confidently and rapidly in other Contemporary dance techniques.

In addition, students are trained in other techniques such as Cunningham, Taylor, Horton and Humphrey-Weidman. A focus on choreography (essential in Contemporary dance) is also provided. Students attend choreo workshops in Semester 2 and are encouraged to create their own works on a regular basis.

PSB Elite has on its Contemporary faculty some of the most highly regarded dancers/trainers in WA including Chrissie Parrott, Floeur Alder and Reyes de Lara.

Auxiliary Classes
Elite students will also train in the PSB Character program, designed by Alida Segal. This 4-year program provides experience and understanding of all repertoire Character dance.

Students will participate in Ensemble pieces which are performed at various galas and competitions during the year. Ensemble work is critical training to form an understanding of participating in the Corps de Ballet where most students will begin their ballet careers.

Academics (Levels 4 to 8)
PSB Elite works with the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) to ensure all Full Time PSB Elite students complete their secondary education. The working relationship between PSB and SIDE has developed over several years. This ongoing partnership with SIDE ensures that students’ academic progress is monitored closely to ensure the best academic outcomes.

Specific hours are set aside each week to allow students to work on academic studies during the day. On most days, classes end at 4.00pm giving students ample time to study at home in the evening.

Nurturing a strong body and mind
Physical health of all PSB Elite dancers is paramount to their success. To increase awareness and knowledge of dance-related injuries and their prevention, the PSB Elite program incorporates the following:

  • Training on a proper warm up with time assigned each morning for students to conduct their own warm up class
  • Pilates classes held twice a week
  • Body Conditioning class once a week
  • Teachers continually watch over students to ensure proper technique.

When injuries do occur, students are guided to see one of the PSB recommended allied health professionals. These professionals liaise with PSB Elite senior staff to ensure a recovery program is adhered to. Margaret Illmann, a registered physiotherapist, provides in-house consulting services to PSB Elite students on a daily basis.

A strong mindset is another requirement of the successful dancer. Dance is a highly competitive industry and students must believe in themselves and have the confidence move past many ‘downturns’. To support students PSB Elite offers classes with Shona Erskine, Dance Psychologist, focusing on topics such as – preparing for an audition; nutrition for a strong body; and developing mental resilience. Shona also offers private consultations on request.

PSB Tours
PSB Elite students have the opportunity to travel to experience dance classes nationally and internationally, providing a broader experience of dance. Tours are recommended when they are thought to be beneficial to a student’s progress. In 2017, PSB Elite will be taking students to Melbourne/NZ in April and to Sydney in July.

Details of these tours can be obtained on request.

Performance Opportunities
Competitions and auditions are an essential part of performance training for students to gauge their professional readiness, work under pressure and to further develop their stage presence. They help students prepare psychologically and physically for the demands of the dance world.

An audition strategy is tailored for each student. This occurs more comprehensively in Levels 7 and 8 when a student is preparing to move to the next stage of their career. Occasionally, PSB is also invited to have students audition for a variety of professional opportunities.

Auditions

Auditions are available on request by contacting Christine on info@perthschoolofballet.com.au or (08) 9203 6175


Program Details

Level 1Levels 2 & 3Level 4Level 5Level 6Level 7Level 8

Level 1 – PSB Elite Preparatory Year

Preparatory Year is designed to give promising young students the opportunity to experience dance training at an elite level while taking into consideration their young age. Students at this level are typically aged 9 to 11.

The program intentions are the following:

      • To give students a clear taste of what it takes to work at a more serious level of training.
      • To begin to develop dance technique foundations and mental resilience in preparation for Levels 2 and 3 of the PSB Elite Part Time program.
      • To assess students’ physical, technical and mental capabilities and consult with families as to the future potential of each student.

The program is tailored to each individual student depending on their training to date and their ability to cope with a heavier workload. Typically, the program would include a total of 9 to 12 hours of dance per week including one afternoon class (currently Wednesdays 1.30pm to 4.00pm).

Levels 2 and 3 – PSB Elite Part Time Program

The purpose of the PSB Elite Part Time Program is to develop promising students towards a career in dance. Students who may have a desire to become professional dancers should consider this program for one to three years with a possible view to entering into the PSB Elite Full Time Program.

The program is designed to provide the following:

      • Give students a clear understanding of what is required to become a professional dancer.
      • Begin to develop dance technique foundations and mental resilience in preparation the PSB Elite Full Time program.
      • Assess students’ physical, technical and mental capabilities and consult with families as to the future potential of each student.

The PSB Elite Part Time Program is offered to students between the ages of 11 years to 14 years (students outside these ages may be considered on an individual basis). The program consists of between 20 and 25 hours of classes per week.

As a guide, students entering this level should be working towards Grade 5 to Intermediate in Cecchetti Ballet (equivalent RAD or Vaganova accepted).

Level 4 – PSB Elite Full Time Program

Level 4 is the first level where students are required to attend PSB Elite on a Full Time basis. The aim is to give comprehensive study in classical ballet and contemporary dance. Priority is given to a focus on achieving a foundation of sound classical and contemporary technique.

A strong classical dancer needs to be well-trained in contemporary and likewise, a contemporary dancer must be well-trained in classical ballet. To meet these needs, the PSB Elite program provides extensive training in both techniques. Beginning at Level 6 in the program, emphasis will be placed on classical or contemporary depending on a student’s intention, talent and capabilities.

To be eligible to audition for Level 4 of the program, students must be working towards at least Intermediate in Cecchetti Ballet (equivalent RAD or Vaganova accepted).

Level 5 – PSB Elite Full Time Program

The aim of Level 5 is to introduce more complicated combinations of beats at a quicker tempo, demonstrating speed and brilliance. Artistic interpretation and presentation will be encouraged and must be performed with developing assurance. The study of jumps will be preceded by various preparatory movements, with emphasis on increased ballon and elevation in the Grand Allegro.

Students will be expected to develop the ability to pick up quicker and more difficult open classes and to begin to show professional maturity.

Development of Pas de Deux and Repertoire begins and an increasing level of difficulty and number of hours for Pointe work is established. Strength and control is further improved to increase range of movement.

A specialised program for male students is offered to develop strength and attributes required of a male dancer.

Students must be working towards Advanced 1 in Cecchetti Ballet (equivalent RAD or Vaganova accepted).

Level 6 – PSB Elite Full Time Program

At Level 6 students will choose between ballet and contemporary as the main focus of their training. Selection will be made in consultation with teachers, directors and families to ensure the best path for each student is selected.

The aim of the classical program at this level is to begin to perfect and polish all elements of the program, including the mastery of all the basic movements of classical dance from previous years of study. Pointe work is developed with the teaching of variations from the classical repertoire.

Students will expect to develop their repertoire solos to a level commensurate to participate in national and international competitions.

Choreography work will be introduced to the contemporary program and students will begin to develop the ability to create their own choreography – a skill essential to contemporary dancers.

Students must be working towards Advanced 2 in Cecchetti Ballet (equivalent RAD or Vaganova accepted).

Level 7 – PSB Elite Full Time Program

In the penultimate year of the program, students must be further perfect dance movements and polish of them for the stage. At the discretion of the teachers it is possible for more artistically developed enchainements to be created with adage, allegro and pointe movements.

The selection of more complicated musical material is essential. Of prime importance is the development of the virtuoso performer’s artistry and musicality.

Students will be deemed to have achieved Level 7 when they can compete confidently with ‘competition lists’ (age appropriate) honed to optimal technical and artistic level. Students should have achieved a level of competence where they are confident competitors for national and international competitions such as Alana Haines, Genee, Youth America Grand Prix, Ceccetti International and/or Prix de Lausanne.

During this year students will begin to prepare for auditions including preparing audition DVDs to be sent interstate and internationally

Level 8 – PSB Elite Full Time, Pre Professional Year

Level 8 is the Finishing year of the PSB Elite program. At this level students are expected to integrate all aspects of repertoire and artistry to bridge into a professional dance company.

Students should be very confident competitors for national and international competitions such as Alana Haines, Genee, Youth America Grand Prix, Cecchetti International and/or Prix de Lausanne. Students should expect to be of a standard where they will be sighted and offered placements during these competitions.

This is the year when students audition for professional placement. Advice and guidance will be offered with:

      • Audition DVDs
      • Specific audition tours in Europe and USA
      • Competition with a view to be selected for professional work
      • Company pre-professional programs.

Students are encouraged to undertake some professional work during this year including small performances and corps de ballet in local companies.

Dance is the hidden language of the soul. – Martha Graham