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Choreographing a strong future through dance

Ormeau Woods SHS's Academy of Dance Industries—a place students can flourish not only in dance, but in life

'It’s not what we do that matters most, but who we are,' says Jacalene McIntosh.

And it’s through dance that Jacalene is helping students to become confident, self-assured, community-minded individuals empowered to pursue their chosen career in the performing arts.

Jacalene is the senior teacher and program coordinator of Ormeau Woods State High School’s Excellence Program, Academy of Dance Industries.

As a dancer herself, Jacalene said she saw the need for a dance program tailored for the specific requirements of the dancer, yet balanced with a solid, holistic education for life after dance.

'The level of education students receive in the program is unparalleled,' Jacalene said.

'No other school in the state, and possibly the nation offers a Certificate IV in Dance, where the school is the registered training organisation (RTO). I know there are many other schools investigating it, as we have started a bit of a trend,' she said.

'I have specifically designed the program to meet the needs of aspirational dancers, as 99% of our graduates will go onto pathways in dance, choreography or other dance-related disciplines.

'But some of our graduates also wish to be doctors, teachers, dental assistants, business owners—whatever it may be. The idea of the academy is preparation for a multitude of careers.'

Through Ormeau Woods’ Dance Excellence Program, students in Years 7, 8 and 9 adhere to the Australian Curriculum while they participate in the Studio of Dance Excellence (SoDE) in preparation for the Year 10, 11 and 12 Vocational Dance Academy (VDA), where they have the opportunity to undertake a Certificate lV in Dance.

Accessibility was an essential aspect of Jacalene’s vision for the academy.

'Every student deserves the opportunity to follow their passion for dance. It was essential the program was available to all, regardless of their financial status. This is why the program has been established in a government-funded public school.'
Jacalene said the program helped students develop essential life skills such as confidence, leadership, communication and discipline.

'Our mantra is to create infinite possibilities for the young adults who enrol in top tier tertiary education, or delve directly into the industry of their choice.

'But more importantly, and for every student in the program, the students learn how to be good people through dance.
I have personally found that those graduates who are well-rounded as individuals, have been the most successful in their careers in dance. And there will come a time for something different, and they will be ready. We are building successful humans—not just dancers.

'The Academy is a place they can flourish not only in dance, but in life.'

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
03 February 2020