Ella Brownlow-Ziirsen: Australian Semi-Finalist in The Fonteyn 2023:
- What does it mean to you to be selected as one of the semi-finalists for The Fonteyn? How does it feel to be part of this event?
I am so excited to compete in the semi-finals of The 2023 Fonteyn. Not only to perform, but to receive coaching for both of my solos, as well as being a part of the commissioned piece with so many amazing dancers. Many dancers who I look up to have also been a part of this competition, so I feel extremely privileged to have this opportunity.
- Can you tell us about your journey in ballet and what inspired you to pursue dance at such a high level?
From the age of 3 I would dance on the tips of my toes whenever classical music came on. I finally started classes at the age of 4, after months of begging my parents to take ballet lessons. Thirteen years have passed but ballet is still my biggest passion and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I started ballet at Valerie Jenkins Academy of Ballet and learnt under the Cecchetti method with my wonderful teacher Valerie Jenkins. At around age 12, I began training under the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus at Alegria, with the amazing Hilary Kaplan and Archibald Mackenzie. This September I moved to London and started my first year at Central School of Ballet (CSB), which I am absolutely loving.
- The Fonteyn showcases exceptional talent from around the world. How have you been preparing for this competition, both physically and mentally?
In addition to daily classes I also do pilates twice a week and strength and conditioning. This year I have been preparing for my Solo Seal. This has involved me learning 3 solos as well as a port de bras and coda, which has strengthened me immensely, both physically and mentally. For my classical solo, I decided to learn the Summer Fairy Variation from Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella. This has been a challenging solo, but also a very beautiful one, and I feel like I have learnt so much through the process of rehearsing it with my various teachers. Likewise, preparing my own choice solo has been challenging but also a very rewarding process.
- What advice would you give to other aspiring young ballet dancers who aspire to participate in prestigious competitions like The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition?
Keep working hard, and your efforts and determination will be rewarded, even though there will be plenty of bumps along the way. Remember what it is that has drawn you to keep dancing, and your passion for ballet will carry you through. Love what you do and show that to your teachers and your audiences.
- Finally, could you please share one interesting and ‘fun fact’ about yourself?
In addition to loving ballet, I also love music. I play piano, violin and viola (viola’s my favourite). I’ve also started singing classes at CSB, which is pushing me out of my comfort zone, but is also great fun!
Ella, with teachers Hilary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie, and fellow Semi-Finalist Ben Moss
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