Penny is the Honorary Founding Director of Australian Dance Vision and registered training organisation Australian Dance Institute.

Penny’s vision was to create a holistic education dance program via a creative and unique assessment process, while building both excellence and self-esteem for students and teachers. Penny truly believes her syllabus gives students preparation for a professional career in dance (if they choose that path) with life skills that set students up for greater employment opportunities.

Penny trained at the Scully Borovansky School, Sydney before becoming a professional dancer in theatre, film, modelling and television in Australia and the USA.

Later Penny followed her dance passion and became a teacher of classical ballet. Penny holds her RAD Teachers’ Diploma and a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment and a Certificate in Learning, Literacy & Numeracy. More recently Penny is a NEELI Higher Education Advanced Leadership Program graduate 2017.

Just as a side note; I love to share the qualifications of my guests because I think it’s really important to recognise (especially classical ballet teachers) that go onto further education and seek professional development instead of simply teaching as they were taught. Being any kind of dance teacher is a career (it’s not a hobby) and even though the industry is highly unregulated, anyone teaching without the desire for further education to achieve qualifications shouldn’t be teaching.

Anyway, continuing on with Penny’s story she was the proprietor and teacher in her own large academy of dancing (The Penelope Lancaster Academy of Dancing) in Turramurra, Sydney for over twenty years before creating and directing the youth dance company Ballet d’Action. This company performed in Sydney for ten years from 1989 to 1999 with 22 new dance works employing a number of prominent choreographers and musicians.

One of the reasons I wanted to have a conversation with Penny for the podcast is because I’ve been thinking a lot about syllabus lately – especially classical ballet ones. I’ve been researching and recognising those that do things really well and those that do things very poorly. It’s a hot topic on my mind as I look toward to future of my own studio and as so many teachers ask my opinion of syllabi, I find it a duty of care to promote ones that are not only run professionally but also fairly for the health and wellbeing of students.

I hope to talk more about this topic freely in the future, but for now I want to focus on how Penny created and co-ordinated the development and implementation of five accredited, nationally recognized dance educational programs in classical ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary dancing. Her syllabus and it’s process for examining students is really quite revolutionary. In Penny’s own words…

“Created by qualified Australian teachers for Australian teachers.
A unique holistic dance program for everyone who loves to dance.
And isn’t that everyone!”
Penny Lancaster, Founding President

During this interview we dive into some of the finer details that make ADV stand out from the rest, the importance of keeping up your academic studies (something I’m incredibly passionate about) and the importance of non threatening examination environments.

Connecting with Penny was truly a highlight of my week. I have so much respect for the work she does and the human she is. I can’t wait to sit down over a coffee in-person one day soon. I feel like we’d have a lot to talk about…

In the meantime, it would mean the world to me if you subscribed, shared a screenshot or rated the podcast. This is a labour of love and your support keeps the podcasts coming!

Now enjoy this interview with my new friend Penny Lancaster…

Grit & grace,