Mary Schaefer: 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?
It feels amazing! I mean, this is a internationally-recognized competition that presents great opportunities for young dancers that are trying to make their way in the dance world, and I’m excited to be a part of it!
- Can you tell us about your journey in ballet and what inspired you to pursue dance at such a high level?
I started dance at young age, just for fun because I had got a pair of tap shoes for Christmas and I used them around the house so much that my parents got annoyed, so they sent me to dance classes and I’ve continued doing dance since then. I started in a sort of community class, and I did most of my early training at local ballet school where I started. When I moved overseas for a while, I continued training at 2 separate dance schools and when I came back, I started at my current dance school which is Danceworks Sydney. I’ve been training in several genres of dance such as contemporary, musical theatre, jazz, lyrical, character dance and mainly ballet. I’ve been coached by teachers such as Olivia Jenkins, Amy Bale, Liam White, Catherine Goss, Wanda Wojtulewicz-Levine, Victor Zarallo, Elias Garcia Herrera, Francesco Ventriglia, and many others. My first thought of persuing dance as a career came when I got my first pair of pointe shoes. For me, that was a point when I thought I’m really doing this! To me, getting my pointe shoes was a step in that professional direction and I really thought that I could make it.
- The Fonteyn showcases exceptional talent from around the world. How have you been preparing for this competition, both physically and mentally?
Since we have to prepare 2 solo pieces, I’ve been working and polishing my solos to make sure I am confident in performing them as I want to do my very best. Mentally it has been challenging to prepare because I am aware that I am competing with amazing dancers that have had more experience competing compared to me. Physically it’s been better as I started preparing physically earlier, trying to increase stamina and practicing my technique.
- What advice would you give to other aspiring young ballet dancers who aspire to participate in prestigious competitions like The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition?
I would say, always remember how hard you’ve worked for your opportunities and experiences. That is something I only realized when my friends told me, is that I used to not give myself credit for any successes that I had. So, I would say give yourself the credit for all the hard work and effort you’ve put in to get this far, and don’t underestimate yourself.
- Finally, could you please share one interesting and ‘fun fact’ about yourself?
Fun fact! I also study music at the Conservatorium of Sydney. I’ve been studying music for about 14 years now.
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