Classical Ballet

The McDonald College has been at the forefront of ballet training in Australia since 1926 when the Ann McDonald College of Dancing was established. The sheer number of alumni who work in prestigious ballet and dance companies around the world is testimony to our world-class teaching.

We nurture each dancer’s unique qualities and strengths for a pre-professional career in dance.

And all during a typical school day while continuing to work towards their HSC in an inclusive, safe, and supportive environment where they enjoy coming to every day.

Our aim for ballet students is to graduate well-rounded, artistic, competent, healthy dancers capable of moving audiences with their established artistry, technique, precision and sophisticated approach sought after by world-renowned finishing schools and tertiary education institutes.

What you will learn

Our holistic and thorough training program begins with introducing the fundamental skills for a dance career.

We build upon these skills by developing technique and artistry.

Our progressive training also encompasses

  • a sound knowledge of body awareness
  • safe dance practices
  • well-being – both physical and psychological
  • a quest for continual development as an artist.

Performance opportunities

At The McDonald College, we offer pre-professional performance opportunities to our students to help prepare them for a career in classical ballet.

  • An Evening of Classical Ballet
  • High Performance Week
  • Premier State Ballet Re/IMAGINED
  • After Hours eisteddfod groups in ballet, contemporary and lyrical styles
  • Open Days, formal functions, and assemblies
  • Extra opportunities with The Australian Ballet Sydney season on special occasions
  • Coaching and support for national and international competitions such as the Alana Haines Awards (New Zealand), Youth America Grand Prix (New York), and the Prix de Lausanne (Switzerland)

On occasion, we offer opportunities to attend performances staged by pre-eminent companies such as The Australian Ballet and touring international companies.

In addition to the technical skills required to be a dancer, students will develop vital and transferrable ‘soft skills’ such as

  • punctuality
  • discipline
  • concentration
  • teamwork
  • confidence, and
  • humility.

Program structure

Years 3 – 6

4 ½ hours of classical ballet training per week which includes a contemporary production class.

Years 7 – 8  

10 hours of training per week which includes

  • open class work
  • pointe
  • boys coaching
  • contemporary and production classes.

Years 9 – 10

10 hours of training per week as above.

Students in Years 9 – 10 can choose to take Ballet and Dance Electives rather than academic electives.

Years 11 – 12

Students undertaking classical ballet have several options in their senior years

  1. Complete their HSC in full, while maintaining their 10 hours of ballet stream classes per week
  2. Complete a partial HSC by studying English and two additional HSC subjects; choosing to spend more time on their classical ballet training Students who go down this path also have the option of completing their HSC in full – with an extra year of schooling (‘Year 13’).
  3. HSC Dance is also offered as a two-unit subject which includes performance, composition and dance appreciation.

Ballet and Dance Electives for students in
Years 9 – 12 include

  • Pilates, yoga and body conditioning
  • well-being and self-esteem workshops
  • specialised coaching for boys
  • pointe and variations
  • pas de deux
  • stagecraft
  • contemporary and production classes.

Possible career paths

  • Placement with a finishing school, leading to a professional ballet company
  • Dancer
  • Musical Theatre performer
  • Choreographer
  • Ballet teacher
  • Examiner / Adjudicator
  • Dance movement therapist
  • Pilates / yoga instructor
  • Notation/ Choreology

Other ballet graduates purposely tread a different path by undertaking tertiary study or successful careers in completely different arenas.

*Further experience and / or qualifications will be required beyond school.

Get in touch with our Registrar

02 9752 0507 |

Swan Lake McDonald College

Royal Academy of Dance examinations

Classical Ballet students may also choose to participate in our After Hours program, which offers training for the Royal Academy of Dance examinations and additional training opportunities in all dance genres, as well as performance and Eisteddfod work.