Academy dancers share their Prix de Lausanne and International Exchange stories

Images by Angharad Gladding

Academy dancers share their Prix de Lausanne and International Exchange stories

‘Inspiring’, ‘fulfilling’ and ‘surreal’ was the sentiment amongst a group of Queensland Ballet Academy dancers who travelled across the world recently to experience ballet companies and competitions in Switzerland, Canada, and the UK.


The Upper School students jetted off to the northern hemisphere over the 2023/2024 summer holiday period, with four participating in exchange programs in London, Toronto, and Winnipeg, and three participating in the renowned Prix de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Jenson (Pre-Professional Program (PPP)), competed in the Prix de Lausanne, and was named one of only eight Prix de Lausanne prize winners, receiving the Bourse Astarte scholarship award.

“After meeting in Zurich, where we made friends with other students preparing to compete, we travelled to Lausanne. It was long hours, long days, and lots of cameras (the event is livestreamed), but I found it really great to learn from the other talented dancers. The experience was so rewarding. The event went really well for us, and we were able to travel a little bit afterwards as well – seeing Manon in London was a highlight.”

Sienna (Level 1) was a Prix de Lausanne partner school choreographic project participant.

“It was terrifying but satisfying and quite surreal. I did a few open classes in Lausanne prior to the commencement of the Prix. Once the Prix started, the hours were long but I made so many friends and we bonded really quickly – it was such a good group of people. The choreographer was amazing – the way he made us think and dance was so different to anything I’ve ever done before. Then I was able to support Ruby and Jenson in their competitions, celebrating with them when the curtains went down and streamers were flying everywhere.”

Ruby (PPP), competed in the Prix de Lausanne and was awarded the Rudolph Nureyev Foundation’s Best Young Talent Award.

“We met in Zurich, where everyone was really kind and welcoming, then travelled to Lausanne. It was intense but well structured. Performing our variations was nerve-wracking but because the jury had already seen us dance throughout the week, I found I could enjoy the performance. I learned a lot, met some great people, and had the chance to travel to London the following week. It was a really fulfilling experience.”

Jessica (PPP), was an exchange student at Central School of Ballet, London.

“The school had a lovely environment. Some of the classes were similar to those we have at our Academy – such as technique, repertoire and pas de deux, but there was also singing and jazz which I hadn’t done before, but I enjoyed. A lot of students were interested in musical theatre, and we learned Cats and other repertoire that was really different. A highlight was an organised excursion to Sadlers Wells Theatre where we saw Alina Cojocaru rehearse a ballet called La Strada and answer questions from us. I’d encourage anyone who wants to apply to an exchange to do it because I had a fantastic experience.”

Madeline (Level 1), was an exchange student at Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet, Canada.

“It was the middle of winter – it got down to minus 40 degrees, but it was a lot of fun. The school is run similarly to our Academy, and in a similar style, so it was easy to blend into the class. I stayed in the boarding house and everyone was welcoming and lovely. The Company is in the same building as the Academy so we could see them rehearsing Romeo and Juliet, which was really inspiring. We were also based in the city so we could go out and explore. There’s a lot to do in Winnipeg!”

Leah and Sophie (Level 1) were exchange students at Canada’s National Ballet School.

“We were part of a program that was like the Pre-Professional Program here, and boarding with girls the same age who were completing Year 11. We danced from 9.45am until around 5pm each day, while they had academics in the morning and ballet in the afternoon.

Our days consisted of ballet then technique, then lunch at the ballet school – a three-minute walk from the boarding house. Afterwards, there were pas de deux or repertoire classes and a few different things, like a choreographic piece we were working on with a new choreographer. On our last day we learned a segment from Cats and also Chicago, which was great. We made a lot of friends with other exchange students.”

Final thoughts:

Sienna: “We were being taught by a different teacher almost every day at the Prix, working with the world’s best ballerinas and directors, but it was really nice to come home and implement the things we learned. I learned that dancing with people you know and trust makes you dance so much better.”

Sophie: “What we’re being taught here is really solid – we held our own overseas. But it was definitely nice to come home – I remember my first class here and just hearing the leaves in the wind and the sounds of the outdoors was really lovely.” 

Ruby: “Here at Queensland Ballet Academy, we all graduate with a full education. Some of the people I was speaking to didn’t even know what grade they were in. We’re so fortunate that we get a full-time education as well. We have long days, but for many of the other dancers we met, school just wasn’t even an option.”


Find out more about Queensland Ballet Academy's Upper and Lower School. This rigorous program is available to students in years 7-12, combining ballet training with senior academic studies at Kelvin Grove State College. 

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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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