Lessons Learned from Vito Bernasconi —
I believe everyone has something to offer and you can gain valuable advice from all sorts of people, no matter how they are placed. Some teachers have been particularly influential in helping me find that next step forward.
My first ever ballet teacher, Mrs Nicholina Kuner, allowed me to truly discover my passion for this art form. Through her words of wisdom she endowed me a gift to believe in myself, to always aim for higher ground and to NEVER, EVER give up on my dreams. This amazing woman, along with my family and friends, provided me with the foundation to make my hopes come true. Now, I’m a professional ballet dancer in an outstanding company and honestly, I have never ‘worked’ a day in my life.
I have been blessed to have met and danced with ballerinos who have given me inspiration to further my aspirations. From my first male contemporary teacher, Bill Pengelly, to my graduate teacher Dale Baker and now my Artistic Director, Li Cunxin, I have held these men in high esteem and respect them for who they are and what they’ve accomplished, but also for what they have offered.
Through them I discovered that while strength is important for male dancers, dancing is not just about being powerful and putting in 110% for every single step. I've always been a hard worker, but using every ounce of my energy on the smallest things became very tiring very quickly, and I have learned that instead of working ‘hard’ all the time, it is better to work efficiently and effectively.
Another important lesson I discovered through my teachers’ guidance was to seek the intricacies and smaller details in each movement. Visualisation works for me, and having specific images and cues such as thinking of your feet like your hands or imagining a bubble surrounding your body, allows me to focus on the feeling, instead of what it looks like in the mirror.
In the past few years I have mentored a handful of final year dance students from QUT. They have asked me so many of the questions I had for my teachers back when I was graduating. Lessons I learnt as a student, that I have implemented in my life, are now the teachings I can pass down to this new generation of young dancers. So from practical questions such as ‘what should I put on my resume?’ ‘Where should I audition?’ through to bigger picture concerns such as, ‘am I crazy to pursue this career?’ ‘Can I do this?’ I have been able to share a crucial piece of advice I was given – gain as much knowledge as possible before making a decision, but then search within yourself and find what feels right for you.
In helping these students, I have also learned something from them – the true value of knowledge is to be able to share it.
So I’ll leave you now with one of my favourite life lessons, which is simply this – if what I’m saying helps, use it. If it’s not, save it until it does, or just let it go.