Royal Academy endorses local dance teacher

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Manjimup dance teacher Katherine Fraser at the barre.
Camera IconManjimup dance teacher Katherine Fraser at the barre. Credit: Holly Thompson.

A Manjimup ballet teacher’s understanding of the art has always been on point and has recently led to her becoming one of two across WA to be admitted to the Royal Academy of Dance International Panel of Examiners.

Katherine Fraser has been dancing from a young age and her passion has stayed with her all the way through life.

Katherine Fraser as a young dancer.
Camera IconKatherine Fraser as a young dancer. Credit: Supplied

“I started out in a town called Wagga Wagga in NSW, my mother was a ballet dancer and she helped me get into the art,” she said.

“She was teaching at the first ever ballet school in Australia, which later became known as the Australian Ballet School.”

Katherine, like her mother, had a passion not only for dance but for teaching dance as well.

“I decided that I wanted to be a teacher from about 12 years old, although I have done quite a bit of performing my main goal was to be a teacher, so I went to the Victorian College of the Arts and did a bachelor of arts in dance with a major in teaching,” she said.

“I then went to a town called Albury in NSW where my mother and I opened up a dance school together.”

She taught at the school with her mother until 2013, when her husband got a job in Geraldton and she decided to move with him.

They lived there for a year before deciding to move to Bunbury.

“I started working in Bunbury for a little while but I wanted to have my own ballet school and I also wanted to go somewhere where there was very little dance opportunities for the children and somewhere opening a school would make a difference,” she said.

“Most people with my level of teaching are only in the main cities or the bigger inland cities, but there are so many talented children in regional areas.”

After she started working in Manjimup and Bridgetown, several people suggested she should think about applying to the Royal Academy of Dance International Panel of Examiners.

“I actually had not thought about examining, but then an examiner from Adelaide said to me, ‘Have you ever thought about becoming an examiner because I think you would make a really good one’, and I have had that reinforced a few times over the years.”

She said when the call-out for applications had come through in January 2017, she decided she would give it a go.

“To become an examiner you have to have been teaching for a reasonable amount of time as well as entering students into the Royal Academy of Dance examinations with reasonably good and consistent results from the students,” Katherine said.

“You also have to have either a masters degree or a significant performance career.”

She said she had to send them an eight-minute video of her teaching a class and a four-minute video discussing the examining criteria at the Royal Academy, before being selected for an interview.

“I had to be interviewed by the chair of the panel of examiners, which was done over Skype because they are based in London,” she said.

“I found out I got through to the training course several months later and so I got to go to Sydney for seven weeks for that course.”

After the training course, Katherine found out she had officially made it on to the board in July last year.

Katherine is now qualified to examine ballet students from Kindergarten Level to Advanced Two level and each year she will examine students both in Australia and internationally.

“Last year I got to go to North Queensland and this year will be Sydney and Wellington in New Zealand, but I could be sent anywhere in the world, most likely it will be in Australia and the Asia Pacific,” she said.

Katherine said although she loved her new role, her main goal was to continue to teach ballet.

“My main aim is for children to come along, experience dance, have a fantastic time and feel good about themselves,” she said.

“It is just a bonus that I have the level of expertise to be able to help take a student to pre-professional level if they want to.”

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