Ballet academy

New Zealand’s first ballet academy set to open in Lower Hutt

Advanced ballet students warming up before class at the Chilton Dance Centre.

Amber Griffin Photography

Advanced ballet students warming up before class at the Chilton Dance Centre.

Moscow, St. Petersburg, London, Lower Hutt?

New Zealand’s first ballet academy is set to open at Chilton Saint James School in Lower Hutt next year.

Auditions will take place next month for a limited number of places for male and female students across New Zealand.

Advanced ballet students practice at the barre at the Chilton Dance Centre.

Amber Griffin Photography

Advanced ballet students practice at the barre at the Chilton Dance Centre.

For serious ballet dancers like 15-year-old Caitlin Hickey, who practices ballet 20 hours a week in addition to school, getting into the academy will help her in her quest to become a ballerina.

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The new Chilton Ballet Academy will give pride of place to ballet as a subject alongside academic disciplines.

Caitlin Hickey is a Scholar and Junior Fellow at the New Zealand School of Dance and recently won the Alexander Grant Training Scholarship at the RAD 14+ Scholarship Awards.

Amber Griffin Photography

Caitlin Hickey is a Scholar and Junior Fellow at the New Zealand School of Dance and recently won the Alexander Grant Training Scholarship at the RAD 14+ Scholarship Awards.

The girls’ school will accommodate a total of 15 male and female ballet students entering grade 10 or 11.

Hickey is a student at Chilton Saint James and the Chilton Dance Centre.

“It would be great to be able to start dancing during school hours and get an idea of ​​what it would be like for a full-time workout,” she said.

In addition to providing a professional foundation, dancing at the academy would allow the Waikanae resident to return home a little earlier.

The 10th grader wakes up at 6:30 a.m. each morning and comes home after 10 p.m. most days.

She loves what she does, but would enjoy it even more if she could fit her training into her school day.

Setting up a dedicated ballet academy in New Zealand had “always been a dream” of Chilton Dance Center director Bronwyn Bennett.

It would provide aspiring dancers with dedicated training like that which already existed in Britain and Australia. “In New Zealand, there was never that opportunity.”

Integrating dance instruction into the school curriculum would put more emphasis on developing the art of ballet, Bennett said.

“They can focus more on classical ballet technique and art in general.”

Bennett approached several people over 12 years to start the academy, but “they never thought it was possible or it would work,” she said.

However, new Chilton Saint James manager Kathy Lord-Parker was willing to back the plan.

Lloyd-Parker said ballet required dedicated training from an early age, but training should not come at the expense of academic achievement.

The catering of male and female dancers at the academy was attracting the attention of dancers across the country, she said.

Auditions for the academy will include a dance assessment and interviews with Lloyd-Parker and Bennett.

Although some dance school students would likely apply, the academy would be open to students from across New Zealand.

There will be up to 15 places available for students, as well as two 50% scholarships.