How many dance schools are there in australia

Study dance in Australia » Ausdance

There are many private studios and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) offering nationally recognised qualifications for dance professionals, from Certificates and Diplomas to Bachelor, Honours and postgraduate degrees, including PhDs.

For current dance education and training courses, visit the:

  • My Skills website for the national directory of vocational education and training (VET) organisations and courses
  • Dance Australia website and search for their ‘full-time studies guide’
  • DanceInforma website and search for their ‘full time dance & auditions guide’.

Adelaide College of the Arts offers performance-based acting and dance courses in a modern facility that includes purpose-built theatres, rehearsal spaces and production studios. The college caters to students who wish to pursue careers as dancers or actors, or behind the scenes in stage, venue and event management.

The ABS offers an exciting, unique and creatively driven eight-year classical ballet program that provides the very best in vocational and educational training. The holistic approach makes sure that all students have a broad-based, comprehensive education, which equips them to pursue vocations, not only in dance and the allied arts, but in areas outside dance. The ABS produces high calibre dancers for our parent company, The Australian Ballet and ballet companies all around the world.

ACPE is the sports and dance specialist with partnerships with government and private sector organisations that can lead to outstanding workplace opportunities. The College’s bachelor degrees are designed to launch careers in sports and dance, and to target students' particular area of interest. ACPE takes a 'hands on approach'—nothing beats putting theoretical knowledge into practical action. Students will have access to an excellent blend of quality academics and industry professionals.

Dance at Deakin is focused on developing students' physical, creative and intellectual skills, resources and capacities through study and practice in the art of contemporary dance. Deakin graduates are self-motivated dance-makers and are well known in the industry as initiators of independent projects particularly working across disciplines.

Macquarie is one of Australia's leading research universities, investing heavily in research, learning and teaching, new buildings, new teaching facilities and in developing mutually beneficial relationships with industry. Macquarie's commercial agreements include obligations and responsibilities that tenants serve the research and teaching objectives of Macquarie, including through scholarships and work experience for students, research opportunities for staff, and new facilities for teaching and research.

Australia’s national tertiary Indigenous dance training organisation, NAISDA is a member of the Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence and is an ASQA-registered training organisation. NAISDA provides ground-breaking delivery of a four year full-time Careers in Dance curriculum to Diploma level developed over its 36 year history. Central to the NAISDA philosophy is its relationship with traditional communities and its cultural residency program. Training at NAISDA is dynamic and relevant to the Developing Artists, with state of the art facilities and highly experienced staff creating solid career pathways for the next generation of Indigenous artists.

QUT Dance is situated in one of the fastest-growing creative hubs for innovative, technologically advanced, internationally recognised creative industries. Its dance courses provide students with the opportunity to be at the forefront of the dance industry. Whether you're an aspiring dance performer, educator, choreographer, or an established professional, QUT's dance courses offer a range of diverse and engaging pathways. The QUT Dance teaching team have real-world experience gained from careers in Australia and internationally, and include an extensive range of dance practices. They are committed to providing a nurturing and empowering environment where students are trained to expand their talent.

This vibrant and innovative school honours both traditional convention and contemporary development in the performing arts and emphasises automomous artistic development within a highly collaborative, ensemble environment. Dance attracts highly motivated, disciplined and creative people who are interested in shaping the future of the profession. VCA encourages cultural diversity and provides a creative, committed environment of learning. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s cultural precinct, the VCA School of Performing Arts has strong links with the local and national performance community, giving students career-defining access to leaders in all fields.

WAAPA at Edith Cowan University provides the most comprehensive range of performing arts training in Australia and students can choose from a range of internationally recognised courses. World-class staff working in state-of-the-art performance and teaching facilities provide rigorous and specialised training of the highest order. The Dance Department prepares classical and contemporary artists of international standing through teaching methods designed to hone and refine the skills of each individual.


Ausdance National

We lead a network of Ausdance organisations that deliver integrated programs across the country, anticipating industry issues and providing innovative and inclusive responses.

Ausdance National now operates as a voluntary organisation, and continues its work through its own National projects and programs. Read about our contributions to the Australian dance sector. 

Through advocacy, Ausdance National aims to:

  • Lead and shape dance policy development and debate.
  • Provide a national voice for dance and dance education.
  • Identify and promote diverse forms of dance and dance practice.
  • Encourage access to and understanding of dance.
  • Foster national and international links with dance and dance-related organisations.

View more from Ausdance National


The TDCA was formed in 1985 so that directors of tertiary dance courses might better connect with dance practitioners, share information, review policy and advocate for dance.

View more from TDCA


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Posted under: Careers in dance, Education & training, Teaching dance, Factsheets + guides


Making all the wrong moves? Australia's dance industry under scrutiny

  • National

This was published 7 years ago

Dance is among the most popular activities for young Australians, but is their wellbeing is in danger?

By Chris Johnston

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The dance mum from the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne – let's call her "Tina" – speaks on the condition of anonymity. "If the owner of my daughter's dance school knew I was doing this, we would be kicked out," she says. "It's hard for parents to get a voice."

Tina's daughter is 12 and an "elite" dancer, which means she is accomplishedacross all styles from ballet to jazz, tap, musical theatre, acrobatic, the works. She trains for 15 hours a week and then more on the intense competition circuit at weekends. Most girls her age are considered "recreational", but she has moved to the elite level. Many dance schools want her on their books.

Dance trainer Paul Malek is concerned young dancers are training too hard and being encouraged to attempt dangerous "tricks". Credit:Justin Mcmanus

Her Instagram is private, but has attracted 4000 requests, because she shares pictures of herself and her friends dancing, and she also has an "ambassador" deal with a dancewear company.

Her mother talks about the relentless "Insta" culture around the booming, ultra-competitive world of kids' dancing: pictures under the hashtags "instafamous", "dancemoms", "dancelife", "scorpionpose" and "tilttuesday".

Tilttuesday shows pictures of girls from all over the world wearing dancewear – crop tops and tiny shorts – standing on one leg while hyperextending the other leg up behind their head. The "scorpion" move, adapted from cheerleading, has them holding the hyperextended leg with both hands.

This and other "tricks" from an increasingly Americanised dance scene, which borrows heavily from pageant culture and advanced gymnastics, and is fuelled by television shows Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance, have prompted dance medicine experts to warn of high injury risks.

"I know kids who are pushing and pushing every day to hyperextend," Tina says. Training for hyperextension can involve a young dancer doing the splits on the floor with her feet lifted on brick-sized blocks. "How will this affect her when she is 30 or carrying a baby?"

Paul Malek, a prominent dance school owner in Melbourne, worked as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance Australia and says young girls are "training like 18- to 20-year-old gymnasts, risking injury to their hips and lower spine and risking "not being able to walk when they are 30".

He says the scorpion pose is "bizarre" and dangerous if kids try it at home.


Melbourne dance school owner Cathy-Lea Smith, of Narre Warren, says parents have become more "achievement orientated".

"I believe that many see dance training as a competitive sport, rather than a performing art. I don't think enough families nowadays go and see dance in the theatre to appreciate the art form in a non-competitive context."

For the record, she thinks the scorpion is OK "as long as they have the physical capacity to do so ... flexibility is a desirable trait in dancers".

There are no standards. A 17-year-old who could have worked for another dance school can open their own school in the local hall.

Dani Brown

Malek told a dance teachers' convention on the Gold Coast last year: "In my entire professional career, I never did one trick. If you are a young swimmer and you're asked to hold your breath under water for five minutes, would you think that was really cool?"

He said the industry was afraid or unwilling to question where it gets its ideas from and had outgrown itself.

The editor of Dance Australia magazine, Karen van Ulzen, told the same conference young dancers were at risk of becoming "performing monkeys".

In her circles in Melbourne's south-east, dance mum Tina has heard of "smacked bums – not a belting, but more of a belittling" dished out to girls as young as six, and has waded through a subculture that is supposed to be about innocence and fun, but is instead racked with "favouritism and hypocrisy".

At the end of the day, she says, "these little girls just want to dance".

In Australia, dance is more popular than all other sports or leisure activities for kids except swimming, according to the latest census data. There are many different styles – jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, cheerleading, contemporary, Irish, acrobatic, musical theatre and lyrical.

It is possible for a 10-year-old to dance seven nights a week if he or she, but usually she, wants to do so. If she's a young netballer, there's only one way to play netball. Dancing is much more involved.

A curious quirk of dance school culture is that parents aren't usually allowed to watch their children training. Some schools or studios have windows or viewing rooms but, in the main, observation is not allowed in order to decrease distractions for the students – and to boost the role of the teacher.

And it is a booming industry with no regulator. Ausdance is the Canberra peak body. It has drawn up extensive codes and standards that any dance school can get, but schools either don't know they are available or choose not to follow them. The vast majority of young girls dancing after school and in the evenings have a great time and are never harmed. But for a massive, fast-growing sector, it has little scrutiny.

Ausdance chief executive Roslyn Dundas says the organisation has begun an "investigative" process to find out how the industry can be better regulated – "a broad discussion about regulations and benchmarks" in part influenced by the British dance industry's regulatory overhaul in 2013.

In netball, all coaches are accredited by and registered with their state and national governing bodies. In calisthenics, certain movements of the spine and wrists have been banned in Australia for 30 years. Catherine Mayne from Calisthenics Victoria – which administers 106 clubs and 8100 participants – says all those clubs are registered with the state body.

Dance schools can also operate under "syllabus organisations", which set down techniques for particular disciplines. There are 15 in Australia. For example, ballet teaching might be governed by syllabus organisations such as Cecchetti or the Royal Academy of Dance. Dance teachers who have graduated through a syllabus organisation are registered, but others are not.

And schools and studios operate largely in isolation. There is one or more in every suburb, like a swimming pool and the footy oval. In Sydney's Sutherland Shire there are 47. In a single pocket of Berwick in Melbourne's vast outer south-east there are four in the same street. The same neighbourhood has three pools. Dance has won.

The least qualification a teacher can get is a certificate four in dance teaching and business management, which, at 12 hours a week, takes nine months to finish. To open a school, a dance teacher gets a Working With Children check and registers a business name. Many suburban schools use factory spaces in industrial parks.

The boom is feeding demand, but Sydney's Dani Brown, an industry veteran and publisher of the national Dancetrain trade magazine, says there's a big problem.

"There are no standards. A 17-year-old who could have worked for another dance school can open their own school in the local hall.

"Then there are professional dancers, who have worked in the industry all their lives, then they decide to become teachers, but there are still no codes that say 'you may have an accomplished professional career, but that doesn't necessarily make you qualified to understand the physical and emotional nuances of all the different age groups coming through the door'."

According to Sydney physiotherapist Debra Crookshanks, who is on the board of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, overtraining is rife, because competitions and eisteddfords are "fierce", and kids come to her with "advanced injuries."

A study by Melinda Purnell, a University of Sydney PhD student Crookshanks supervised, based on data from 2008, found a "chronic" risk of injury for dancers aged under 14 who were doing more than a 8.5 hours training a week.

Purnell is now a physiotherapist and dance school owner. "We are seeing injuries in 12- or 13-year-olds that are only seen in professional dancers," she says. "It is scary."

Crookshanks insists a dance teacher must be qualified, but also informed. "You need to know the tools to manage growth spurts. The kids are growing. That is the reason kids get hurt. They are doing one-handed cartwheels, but let's not keep screaming at them and telling them are stupid and getting them to push themselves and fall and end up in my clinic."

There's also the dark but persistent issue of sexualisation. The owner of Sydney school RG Dance, Grant Davies, was charged with 64 sexual assault, grooming and child pornography crimes relating to 10 former students last year. His trial begins in September and his sister and former business partner, Rebecca Davies, who is not implicated in the case, is now teaching at various schools in Melbourne, including Cathy-Lea Smith's school in Narre Warren.

Sydney dance school owner and journalism graduate Jemma Nicoll has begun writing a proposed revised code of conduct for dance schools with writer and activist Steve Biddulph, author of Raising Boys and Raising Girls, taking the potential sexualisation of young dancers into account.

Nicoll says parts of the industry are overtly sexual and marketing can be "paedophilic". The biggest dance event promoters in Australia, Showcase, are also distributors for controversial US dancewear label California Kisses, which specialises in sheer dancewear for "tiny glam girls".

But it is injuries the industry is talking about the loudest. These are most common in either untrained dancers who try extreme moves seen on social media or, more commonly, elite dancers aged 12 to 14 who are doing up to 30 hours week in training and competitions.

"The competition kids," Purnell says, "these are injuries previously only seen in professional dancers." She cites hip cartilege damage and stress fractures as increasing and cites a trend of turning dancers into "contortionists".

The danger age range for high risk of injuries through overtraining is 11 to 15, she says. Growth spurts mean not everything grows at the same pace.

"You see this loss of co-ordination and a change in the kid's ability to know where their body is in space, and it can be as quick as last week a classical ballet dancer doing perfect pirouettes, then this week she is falling out of them. What's changed?

"It could be as simple as she has grown a couple of millimetres and her balance is off. This puts kids at greater risk of injury."

Lisa Ellis, a Melbourne dance coach who is about finish a medical degree, thinks extreme styles are fine if well coached. She coaches them herself and is sought out to do so from her studio in Moorabbin.

Ellis is another who has hired Rebecca Davies to help her. Davies was holding seminars across the United States and Britain through July and into August, including with Pittsburgh's Abby Lee Dance Company, from Dance Moms.

Ellis says it is better to have young people dancing than sitting on the couch.

"There are big fears over hypermobility in dance," she says. "But any sport has a risk of injury, any physical activity. Running, playing netball, playing tennis, dance – there is always a risk, but our job is to minimise it."

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Schools in Australia


There are about 10,000 schools in Australia today. Public schools make up about 70%, the rest are private. There are many Catholic private schools in the country, run by the Catholic Educational Commission.

Private schools are considered more prestigious. Children of wealthier people study in them; the material base is better here than in public schools, and each child is given more attention. However, teaching is at the same high level, both in public educational institutions and in private ones. nine0005

The most significant difference is that public schools do not have boarding schools. If in "independent schools" children can live in a cozy school dormitory under the supervision of educators, then the children studying in public educational institutions are settled in Australian host families.

As in the UK, there are coeducational and separate schools for boys only or girls only.

There are not as many foreign students in Australian schools as, say, in English schools - they make up only about 5% (about 15 thousand). nine0005

The Australian school year is divided into quarters (12 weeks each), beginning at the end of January and ending at the beginning of December.

The main subjects are:

  • English,
  • mathematics,
  • social and natural sciences,
  • foreign language,
  • sport.

In addition, in the senior classes there are a large number of elective subjects that students begin to study, focusing on the university where they intend to continue their education. In the final grades, the range of subjects studied is narrowed to a few, and the choice of direction depends on the student. Schools pay a lot of attention to sports and personality education. It is also worth noting that Australian high schools offer ample opportunities to study both European and Asian languages. nine0005

In the country's schools, much attention is paid to the individual characteristics of students, their talents and interests. The school program is built to maximize the development of the intellectual, social, creative and career potential of each student.

Just like in Great Britain, all sorts of clubs and circles are spread here: chess, oratory, theater, dance. In many schools, children participate in the management: their council decides on issues related to the organization of holidays, trips and official events; lobbies the interests of students in the board of directors of the school. nine0005

Australian educational institutions are more flexible than English schools, and a child can enter here at almost any age. Many schools have language centers that help foreign students to “pull up” the language and prepare for learning. As a rule, even if children from other countries immediately start studying, they are additionally taught English 2-3 times a week during the first semester.

You can study here under the Australian high school program or under the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, which opens the way to almost any university in the world. nine0005

Best dance schools in Australia, USA and England

Study Abroad: Admission to University

Do you want to become a famous dancer? Or maybe you dream of teaching choreography? Be prepared for the fact that choreography today is one of the most competitive areas of art. Therefore, even if you are talented and ambitious, you cannot do without a quality education!

We present you the TOP 3 choreographic schools, after studying in which you will be able to work in the best dance studios and groups in the world. nine0005

California State University Long Beach, USA

Through the College of the Arts, California State University offers bachelor's and master's programs in choreography.

The Bachelor's Curriculum trains professional dancers, choreographers, administrators, choreographers, and fitness and wellness instructors. At the university, students study the artistic and technical aspects of dance, as well as the historical and cultural foundations of this art. The academic program includes subjects such as modern and classical dance, ballet, choreography teaching, fitness, theory and aesthetics of dance, etc. nine0005

At the Master's level, the curriculum is primarily practice-oriented. Only practicing choreographers can apply for master's studies. Therefore, the program is designed in such a way that study can be combined with work - the course consists of three intensive 6-week summer semesters.

Earning a degree from California State University gives graduates the opportunity for successful employment not only in America, but also in other countries of the world. The local choreographic school has an excellent reputation, provides students with a high-class education, all the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the field of dance art. nine0005

Falmouth University, UK

Falmouth University is renowned for its commitment to classical and contemporary art and its many courses for young and talented students from all over the world. Choreography is taught here on the basis of the Penryn Campus, the duration of the bachelor's program is 3 years.

The learning process at this university is focused on the practical component, takes place in a creative and inspiring atmosphere. Thanks to an innovative approach to the understanding and implementation of dance, the university graduates specialists who are ready for the realities of modern choreography and contribute to the development of art. nine0005

At the undergraduate level, students can choose one of three specializations - dance and performance, dance and choreography, dance and society. The academic process involves the study of subjects such as the theory and practice of dance, the study of body language, the preparation of dance programs, etc.

Training takes place within the framework of lectures, seminars, individual and group practical classes. In addition, students here get the experience of direct participation in dance projects and their production. For those who wish, student exchange programs with educational institutions in other countries of Europe and America are also available. nine0005

University graduates are in demand all over the world and work in such positions as freelance dancers, choreographers and directors, founders and directors of dance studios and schools, dancers of the theater, opera, ballet, TV shows, pop and musical ensembles, etc.

University of Melbourne, Australia

Choreography training at the University of Melbourne takes place at the Victoria College of Art. Here you can get a bachelor's degree, a bachelor's degree with honors, a master's degree or a doctorate in the field of dance art. The college has 5 training dance studios, as well as a chamber university theater. nine0005

At the undergraduate level, students learn the basics of choreography and dance performance. It teaches theory and practice, history and psychology of dance, modern and classical ballet. At the same time, participation in productions by eminent Australian and foreign choreographers gives students an amazing and rare practical experience.

Master's students of the university comprehend the art of dance at an in-depth level and, as a report on the work done and the material studied, create their own dance project. At the master's level, the main emphasis is on a thorough study of all aspects of dance production and its technical implementation. nine0005

In doctoral studies, students conduct their own research on a chosen topic in the field of choreography. In the traditional version, the study consists of a thesis paper, 80,000 - 100,000 words long. However, taking into account the interests and occupation of students, doctoral students are allowed to submit their own creative project, supplementing it with a thesis of 40,000 - 50,000 words.

The University of Melbourne College of Art has a fundamental and serious approach to education, producing highly trained dancers and choreographers.

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