International student exchange opportunity: Saya Hibino

International student exchange opportunity: Saya Hibino

It was a partnership opportunity between Queensland Ballet Academy and Japan’s Victoire Ballet Competition that led to a life-changing experience for Saya Hibino.

The Japanese dancer first visited our Academy in early 2023 as part of a group of students from Japan, here to enjoy a week of Academy Program classes and Brisbane cultural activities. Saya returned on a three-month scholarship in September, participating in Level 1 and Pre-Professional Program (PPP) training, and was subsequently offered a full-time training position in the 2024 PPP cohort. During her scholarship period, she had the chance to perform in Soirée – an extraordinary production showcasing Australian art, choreographers, live music, and dance.

How was your experience training with the Pre-Professional Program dancers during your scholarship?

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to perform at short notice, but everyone was so kind and supportive that I was able to overcome my fears. The teachers were very attentive during the training, and I thought it was especially good that we were in the same facility as the Company. We could watch rehearsals and take classes together – it was a great experience to watch and learn from them.

Highlight of your experience?

I was able to participate in the Soirée season. To be honest, it was challenging to rehearse in an unfamiliar environment, but I was really happy to be onstage four times and to feel the joy of dancing.

What is something unexpected you learned here?

It was not so common to move from one role to another in Japan, but here up to three casts are announced and it is often necessary to dance a role at short notice. I learned that it is really important to remember and pay attention to other roles and performances from the daily rehearsals rather than only my own dances.

You joined our PPP cohort in 2024 – what made you decide to make the move to Australia?

It is because I had experienced firsthand in the previous three months that this program is truly fulfilling, an environment where I can devote myself to ballet, with wonderful teachers and very kind friends.

How has your time been so far? What are you enjoying?

From the first week we had already started choreographing for the March performances, and although it is a hard day, it is really fulfilling and fun.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

All the opportunities to perform several times a year. I am excited to be able to perform many different genres of work.

What do you enjoy about Brisbane?

I really like the character of the people in Brisbane. I feel that time flows more leisurely than in Japan. I think it because of the generous nature of the Brisbane people that makes me feel that way. I also love the Brisbane sky. The blue sky is really blue, and at dusk the colour of the clouds and sky differs from day to day, and I saw many fantastic skies during the first three months I was there.

See our Pre-Professional Program dancers perform in Aspire '24.

academy performances


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and perform. Long before we performed on this land, it played host to the dance expression of our First Peoples. We pay our respects to their Elders — past, present and emerging — and acknowledge the valuable contribution they have made and continue to make to the cultural landscape of this country.

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