Australian ballerina Lucinda Dunn gives up the stage to teach the next generation

by Nicole Chettle, ABC News.  25 Jan 2015

One of Australia’s best-loved ballerinas is returning to the school where her career began to lead the next generation of aspiring dancers.

Lucinda Dunn, who received a 10 minute standing ovation during her final curtain call at the Sydney Opera House last year, has hung up her tutu and taken on a teaching role to become the artistic director of the Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy and the Sydney City Youth Ballet.

“I only stepped off stage last year [and] I feel very relieved and very satisfied,” Ms Dunn said.

“And I’m very proud of the career that I had.”

After 23 years at the Australian Ballet, Ms Dunn said she no longer craved the spotlight.

“But I’ve still got my shoes on and my leotard on and I’m demonstrating and showing these dancers some techniques and some style of things that I’ve learnt through my career.”

The school she has joined has produced professional dancers who perform in dozens of companies around the world.

 

Its founder, Tanya Pearson, has scaled back her responsibilities after 50 years of teaching.

Was she reluctant to hand over control? “Not to Lucy,” the 77-year-old Ms Pearson said.

“I’m not completely reign-free. I still took two coaching sessions this year.

“But she can demonstrate whereas I can’t anymore. It’s very special.”

Ms Dunn was a student at the school from the age of 13. At the age of 15, she won the prestigious Prix de Lausannewhich has launched many ballet careers.

Olivia Betteridge, 15, said she aimed to follow in Ms Dunn’s footsteps, and flew to Switzerland to compete in the international competition in February.

On the day she flew out, the teenager was sweating it out in the studio with her mentor.

“It’s really fantastic. She’s such a role model and she also gives a good perspective on the performance element of dancing which I really find helpful,” Olivia said.

Discipline the key for Dunn’s students

Ms Dunn said she was passionate about providing quality coaching in Sydney, so that promising students do not have to venture interstate or overseas.

“If you can be close to home and have wonderful training that is invaluable – not leaving your family at the age of 14 or 15,” she said.

“It’s very traumatic for some people, especially going to the other side of the world.

“Then to have the Australian companies take on these students is something I’d like to see more of.

“I’m a big advocate of the Australian Ballet. That’s where I spent most of my life, I have to say.

“Queensland Ballet is a really wonderful company and it’s really expanding. The repertoire that they’re bringing is very, very exciting for Australia.”