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Student Stories

Maddie accepted to prestigious US dance school

“She is driven and dedicated and this desire to achieve has allowed her to succeed at both her studies and her dancing, without one negatively impacting the other"
- Teacher Nicky Gawler

Madeleine Limmer, Year 11, has been accepted to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNSCA) High School dance programme. The programme is the exclusive educational affiliate school of the American Ballet Theatre, renowned for its esteemed alumni and industry connections.

Madeleine has been dancing since the age of three and has spent the last three years attending summer intensive dance programmes in France and the USA.

Living in New Zealand made it difficult to audition live, but an audition video saw her gain offers to multiple full-time programmes, including The Rock and Joffrey NYC.

Ultimately, inspired by her hero, renowned ballerina Gillian Murphy, she chose UNCSA.

“It has a strong academic curriculum and also teaches drama, visual arts, music and dance in preparation for university and careers in those fields,” Madeleine said.

Deborah Limmer, Madeleine’s mother, said ACG Tauranga had supported Madeleine from the start to follow her ballet dream, installing ballet bars for her to practise and allowing her access to the gym during study blocks so she didn’t have to train late at night.

“The biggest challenge we have had raising a very disciplined ballerina is to find a school that understands and supports the time she has needed to train,” Ms Limmer said.

“Madeleine has always had academic and dance aspirations and, at times, has been told to concentrate on one over the other, but she has refused to do that and ACG has backed her 100%.”

She said principal Thea Killian had helped Maddie with her applications, writing her a reference letter and guiding her through the process of applying. Her teachers helped get her grades transferred to the US equivalent, opened the gym at 7am for her training, and tailored fitness training specifically for her.

“When we were first looking at ACG and our children potentially attending this school, they told us that ACG is here for the children, that they would find out what they need to help them to succeed.  I agree 100%!”

Madeleine’s teacher, Nicky Gawler, said Madeleine was an incredibly well-balanced student.

“She is driven and dedicated and this desire to achieve has allowed her to succeed at both her studies and her dancing, without one negatively impacting the other. In fact, the discipline that she has to apply to her dancing has helped her to develop an incredible work ethic when it comes to her studies. An example of her dedication is her desire to complete her IGCSE History coursework before she departs for America, even though she will not be following the Cambridge curriculum at her new school.”

Madeleine will start at UNCSA High School in August.