HOW TO BE A BALLET DANCER – Alexandra Cownie

Published on 23rd Sep, 2012

Alex Head Shot -  clear background

Alexandra Cownie is taking the Australian Ballet scene by storm with her new book ‘How To Be A Ballet Dancer’ and her current national Masterclass tour!

Her passion for supporting the Classical Ballet community with her comprehensive book and tour is inspirational. Alexandra is a former professional dancer Born and raised in France where she was classically trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Danse in Lyon.

‘How To Be A Ballet Dancer’ covers everything from professional schools to auditions, dancing in companies, keeping healthy and positive when faced with all sorts of daily challenges, becoming a parent, earning a living and building a life while being a dancer, managing injuries, preparing for your after-career and much more. Alexandra has interviewed professional dancers from across the world as well as including her own valuable insights from a prestigious professional career in Classical Ballet.  Specific questions that all dancers often ask are answered in Alex’s book, like:

  • What the life of a dancer is really likeAlex Book
  • How to choose the right dance company for you
  • The dancer’s perfect eating plan to keep you healthy, thin and strong
  • Positive ways to deal with the stress of competition
  • How to improve your technique without stressing your body
  • How to get rid of stage-fright for good
  • How to manage your stress in auditions, exams and stage performances
  • Easy ways to deal with injuries and prevent them from reoccurring
  • How to plan your professional dance career

Alexandra’s professional career began very early, whilst still in undertaking her studies.  She was selected to be filmed while performing the advanced ballet student solo variation for the Centre National de la Dance at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Her solo performance was the French national technical reference (in ballet) for the years 2002 and 2003. The same year, she was invited to dance at the auditorium of the Lyon Opera Ballet where she performed extracts of Jardi Tancat from Nacho Duato.

Alexandra travelled across Europe with the Youth Ballet of Lyon before joining the Tanz Atelier Wien Company in 2004 (Austria). She spent time in Munich at the Heinz Bosl Foundation to learn from Caroline Llorca the principles and technique of the Vaganova method in private discussions as well as while assisting Caroline in her daily classes.

As a dancer, Alexandra also worked with:

  • Roland Duflot (from the Paris Opera Ballet)
  • Shonach Mirk (former soloist from the Béjart Ballet Lausanne)
  • Yuval Pick (contemporary creation of his version of The Rite of Spring)
  • Adam Lüders (from the New York City Ballet)
  • Benjamin Millepied (Former NYC Ballet Principal and choreographer for the movie Black Swan – Alexandra was one of the interpreters for his quatuor at the creation of Clapping Music in 2003)
  • Sebastian Prantl (creations within the Tanz Atelier Wien: The Dreaming of Bones and Land Body Scape as well as “day-long” improvisation works in cultural places such as Viennese museums and street dancing)

Some of the classical solos and main roles that Alexandra performed include:

  • Solo of Esmeralda (won national competitions and went into finales at the Valenciennes and Grasse international ballet competitions)
  • Various solos from Paquita
  • The Third Shade from La Bayadère
  • Solo and pas-de-deux from Les Sylphides
  • Various solo from the Sleeping Beauty
  • The Little Swan variation from Swan Lake
  • Variation La Flute from Suite en Blanc (Serge Lifar)
  • Agon Solo from Georges Balanchine
  • Girls duo from Maurice Béjart (re-staged by Shonach Mirk from the Béjart Ballet Lausanne)
  • and many more…

Alexandra migrated to Australia in 2005 to contribute to the start of Sydney youth contemporary dance company Dirty Feet in association with AusDance NSW. While working on obtaining her visa that would get her the contract she was waiting for with Sydney Dance Company under the direction of Graeme Murphy, she injured her knee. She was then rehearsing a new creation with Australian choreographer Martin Del Amo. This injury put a premature end to her career as a professional dancer.

However, every challenge brings opportunity so Alexandra learned remedial massage therapy and practised as a therapist in a Sydney clinic for a few years. She specialised in the treatment of sports injuries using advanced remedial techniques combined with the principles of Tui-Na (Chinese massage), reflexology and aromatherapy. This lead her to renew her passion for sharing her deep love and extensive knowledge for dance with the new generations of dancers through her writing, teaching and coaching.

She has taught ballet and contemporary in schools all over Australia.


Alexandra is CURRENTLY ON TOUR ACROSS AUSTRALIA – LIMITED WORKSHOPS STILL AVAILABLE IN MELBOURNE AND PERTH.

CONTACT Alex here and mention ‘DanceLife’ in your message for your special offer!


Alexandra now lives on the Gold Coast (Australia) with her husband Nick and their daughter. Alexandra dedicates her life to educate ballet students about the professional world of dance and support dance studios all around the world to become even more successful in their business practices.

“Your passion and genuine love of dance and willingness to ‘give back’ to the next generation is just beautiful to witness.” (CoastQuest Championships Director)

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