Louise from her dancing days at QDSE
What led you to work at Queensland Ballet and Queensland Ballet Academy?
At the end of my degree, I worked in a couple of private practices with a bit of dance focus, and also for Qantas as a physiotherapist for their baggage handlers. This provided me with great exposure to the life of a workplace physiotherapist as opposed to a clinical practitioner.
Having been a student at QDSE prior, the home of Queensland Ballet; The Thomas Dixon Centre had been a big part of my life on and off for many years. In 2014 I saw a job advertised with Queensland Ballet for one day per week. Initially I wasn’t successful but later that year I started helping Zara, our Head of Performance Medicine, for two hours weekly. It’s funny: In Year 12 I was reading Li Cunxin’s book, Mao’s Last Dancer and then all of a sudden, I was working for his Company and Academy, which was very cool.
My first year in at Queensland Ballet (2015) was probably the first time that the Academy students had access to a physiotherapist on-site, and it’s been an interesting journey growing that service. Every year we’ve been building it up slowly, increasing our available hours and now to finally be in our own building and have our own physiotherapy room and gym all in five short years has been pretty amazing.
What does your job entail?
I split my time between practising as a Physiotherapist in the Company and Academy, and I also teach two Academy classes per week in Safe Dance Practice. I really enjoy this aspect of my role – my parents are both teachers, so I have always been exposed to teaching and innovative ways to help students learn. Bringing out the best in a dance student in a performance or practical context is really different to content teaching, and all the Academy students are very driven, focused and enthusiastic about what they are here to learn.
In my role as a Physiotherapist, I have different expectations between working with the Company and the Academy. Working with the Company, I am mostly there to assist the process of maintaining their performance. At this level, the dancers are older and more experienced, and the repertoire they are dancing is a lot harder. There’s a bigger team involved in this and their schedules can get crazy with the frequency of performances. In contrast, there’s a real sense of constant discovery working with the Academy students. For example, a Company dancer may have gone through hundreds of pointe shoes and will know what works for them, whereas a student might be on their third pair ever! There’s a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments and teaching them things they’re seeing for the first time