Ballet dancers from Sharon Sidney School of Dance from left Bessie Chapman, 6, Mary Doohan, 5, Elizabeth Wignell, 6 and Coco Lacson.
Ballet dancers from Sharon Sidney School of Dance from left Bessie Chapman, 6, Mary Doohan, 5, Elizabeth Wignell, 6 and Coco Lacson. Jacklyn Wagner

Point in the right direction

AT THE tender ages of five and six, the girls of Lismore's Sharon Sidney School of Dance already have plenty of poise.

Last week they completed their second formal exam with Ballet Australasia, where they performed individually in front of a professional examiner from Melbourne.

With a mark of 75% required for a pass, it was no easy feat for the young ballerinas to get the instructor's approval.

"You've got to be pretty good, but there's nobody I was really worried about," said head teacher Heather Sidney, who had confidence in her students despite some understandable early nerves.

"When it was time for little Bessie to have her exam she cried because she was so nervous," said Ms Sidney.

"I took her by the hand and walked in with her, and once the examiner saw that she was upset because it was her first exam, she straight away took her under her wing.

"Bessie saw that this was not a strange lady to be frightened of, but someone who 'would look after me'."

Although they are still in kindergarten, some of the girls are already seasoned dancers and on their way to a promising third year of dancing.

"We've had a lot of girls who have gone away to full-time ballet schools and go on to join ballet companies," she said.

"You have to have a goal to work to, so the exam is good for them."

Alan Doohan, father of five year-old Mary, said even if they did not become serious dancers, ballet was a fantastic confidence-building exercise.

"They're only five or six - if you can get up in front of a stranger and do your dancing, that's got to be good for school as well," he said.

At the end of November they will perform a Christmas show at Lismore Square, and will feature in the school's annual concert.



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