Launching September 2022
Mosa Ballet School has a strong vision for the future of ballet. The school’s mission involves reconciling the demands of excellence in ballet training, the humanity of their students, and impact – not only on students through ballet education but also impact on the environment and community. Scheduled to open its doors in September 2022, Mosa Ballet school is the vision of founder, Benjamine De Cloedt and will be located in the heart of Liège, Belgium.
The school will have a student-centered teaching style with the well-being of the students being a top priority. By offering resources for the students such as a ‘self-care program,’ as well as a positive learning environment focused on respect and justice, they are consciously focused on cultivating balance and nurturing students’ humanity. This approach could ultimately be a more sustainable training model the ballet world has long needed. Furthermore, the school is being sustainably built in the former National Bank of Belgium using cogeneration, solar photovoltaic system, energy recovery from greywater, and rainwater management.
A Ballet Education had the privilege of speaking with Mosa Ballet’s newly appointed Artistic Director, Pedro Carneiro. Mr. Carneiro previously served as director of the National Conservatory Dance School (NCDS) in Lisbon for 14 years and has guest taught all over the world. Mr. Carneiro shares with A Ballet Education the vision of Mosa Ballet School and the opportunities for its future students and faculty.
ABE: Will you start by telling us about the school and its vision?
Mr. Carneiro: Well, this is a school first of all with incredible facilities in the heart of Europe in Liège. There is currently no big dance school in this French part of Belgium, so it’s something very important for this region. The school has come out from the dream and vision of the founder, Mrs. Benjamine De Cloedt, who had been thinking about this for quite a while, she said for about 15 years she had been thinking of this project and she finally found the right moment to do it. So the vision she has is to make Mosa Ballet one of the top schools in the world. I’m very proud and very honored to have been chosen to lead this project. It will be a great school in terms of facilities, it will have 10 studios, and dorm places for 100 students. The school will start with 115 students, for now, ages 12 to 18. There is an incredible lot of room in this school because it used to be a branch of the National Bank of Belgium in Liège. So it’s a great building which is being renovated in order to accommodate this new function. All of the studios are being built from scratch, and they are very big and appropriate to accommodate class in the 21st century.
My vision for the school is to make it try to make it one of the best schools. I’ll try to recruit very good students because we need good material to make a good school, and I’ll try to recruit the best teachers. I will also try to make a program that is appropriate for the needs of the students entering companies these days.
It’s important that they have not only a classical education, but also a very strong and full contemporary education because nowadays almost all companies are very eclectic. So we all try to be up to date on everything that is needed. Ballet is international, and today’s students go to many places, for instance to America to find work, so we have to be global when we think about education.
Another thing that is important is the philosophy and pedagogy of the school, which is that the students have the opportunity to have high-quality training, in a very positive and supportive environment based on encouragement and recognition. We want everybody that works in the school to have these common values. We want to have a place where new students feel well because we believe that an education in ballet is hard enough, and teachers don’t need to make it harder for students. Teachers have to be supportive and correct- pedagogically speaking. We want a school that is a good environment; where the students feel safe and encouraged because this will create future professionals who are creative, independent, and who have developed critical minds. We’ll also have subjects for self-care: yoga, tai chi, Gaga, and there will be a team of professionals that will support the students: psychologists, nutritionists, and physiotherapy. We will have people to support both the physical and mental sides of the students.
This is an incredible opportunity. Of course, there is a lot to do because everything needs to be created from scratch. But, on the other side, it’s also a very good opportunity to form and create things how you think they will be useful. If I went to a school that had existed already for 200 years, it would be difficult to change things where they already have staff and teachers, because there I’d have to adapt to an already existing structure. Here, I have the opportunity to create something according to my experience and according to my vision that I think will hopefully work out well for the students and their education.
ABE: Can you expand on what you mean by the conscious competition that is part of the values and mission of the school?
Mr. Carneiro: This was chosen by the founder, but they explained to me what they mean. So conscious competition is like, of course, you know that you have to be competitive in order to be successful, you have to be demanding, you have to be putting things at a higher level, but the idea is to be competing with yourself. Conscious competition is when you are competing to make the best out of yourself and you’re competing with yourself. So you compete in a positive way and in a way that is respectful to everybody.
ABE: What resources and support will Mosa Ballet school offer their students that they might not get at another ballet school?
Mr. Carneiro: I’m not really aware of what each school is offering, but I think there is a conscious effort these days in education that schools are trying to focus more on the well-being of the students in general. I don’t know if all schools have this kind of physical and psychological support for the students. We are trying to make sure we have all these teams supporting the students. The students should be at the center of the educational process. This is not about one teacher or about one ego, it’s about the students.
ABE: Will you be accepting international students? What will the audition process be like over this next year?
Mr. Carneiro: There will be all kinds of auditions because we are recruiting all the students. There are not only a few vacancies, but we are recruiting the whole school. So of course we have video auditions for those students who are very far away. We are starting by having auditions in Belgium, not only for nationals but also for people from the neighboring countries that can easily come. We’re going to have a winter intensive from December 26th to December 30th, where the participants will also be able to audition from the school if they wish. And yes, and I’m currently working on organizing several auditions abroad. Some of the countries where we are planning to audition are Japan, Italy, and probably Switzerland, but I’m still working on these things. We’re also thinking about having some auditions in other cities in Belgium, not only in Liège but in some of the major cities where there might be interest.
ABE: So the winter intensive will be this winter?
Mr. Carneiro: Yes, it will be this winter. It won’t be at the school yet because the school is being renovated, but it will be at the big studio of the Opera. Liège has an Opera Theater with a big studio and the winter intensive will take place there. We are planning on having around 70 students because there is only one studio, for students ages 12 to 18.
ABE: How do you see ballet training and the ballet world evolving and how would you like to see it evolve for future generations of dancers? What do you want to create with Mosa ballet?
Mr. Carneiro: Well, I want to create an education where the students are adapted to the reality of the current ballet world. I would like to work with choreographers and have them make workshops and create pieces for our students so that they have an eclectic education. I did the teacher’s course at the Vaganova School and trained in Russia, so I want to use Russian training that is adjusted and evolved to reality and useful to the students. We also want the students to have contact with other schools [of training], certainly the French and Danish schools, so that the students get as many techniques as possible. Of course, we’d also like the students to have techniques from contemporary choreographers like Forsythe, etc, and if possible Balanchine. It’s always difficult to get a school to perform Balanchine pieces. I know the Balanchine trust is very strict about giving permission to their pieces, but I would love to have something also from Balanchine for our shows.
As I told you at the beginning, I think the contemporary part is also very important. So the base will be Graham, but later, they will be in touch with other techniques like floor technique and of course Limón, and flying low… There are so many interesting new contemporary trainings that dancers need to know so that they’re fully ready to work professionally.
Where I’d like ballet to go, I think everything keeps changing, the aesthetics of ballet keep changing. I believe in ballet and I believe that ballet performances are still very popular – for me, it’s so passionate. I love to see good performances. But of course, you cannot stay back in time, you have to perform according to reality, and you have to use other techniques in education. But classical technique, ballet technique, is the base for most of the professional work.
ABE: Can you tell us more about the school’s intention to “break with the paradigm of ‘necessary’ suffering?”
Mr. Carneiro: You have to be demanding. You know that when you go for a ballet education that it will require a lot of effort, just like any sport. I remember as a student that I wanted my training to be demanding. I wanted to be able to evolve and make improvements. When it is something that you like to do, you don’t think of it as suffering, right? Of course, we know that it takes a lot of effort, but when we enjoy something, it doesn’t look like suffering. We want to take away the unnecessary suffering that students are sometimes confronted with – when teachers don’t treat them in a good way and make training more difficult for them; when there is a negative environment and not a supportive environment. So we want to focus on providing the students with a positive and encouraging environment. We want the students to feel good where they are and that means we have to be authentic. I think it’s very important that the teachers act in a sincere and authentic way to the students because it’s all about being honest with them and treating them well. So this is how we want to take the suffering away. We’ve all experienced teachers we loved in class because they made ballet so interesting and they were so nice and supportive to us, where we felt like we were treated in a fair way, and they would always never let us down. These are the kind of teachers I want to have around.
ABE: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that I should have? Or anything else you want to share?
Mr. Carneiro: I’m very excited about this challenge and new work. It’s really a great opportunity. I’m very grateful that Benjamine De Cloedt had this vision and wanted to do this school. She has the ambition to do a very good thing and she’s providing this school with such great facilities, all the best. So I’m up to this challenge to really give the best of myself and my experience to make this a great school.
Mosa Ballet is actively recruiting students and faculty for its opening in September 2022. If interested, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org