Since returning home to Canberra, Paul Knobloch, a Ballet Master for The Australian Ballet, has run a series of free online classes for students whose classes have been cancelled. Photos supplied.

Local product and legendary ballet dancer, Paul Knobloch, has taken time during the COVID-19 pandemic to come home and give back to the local dance community by hosting free classes for the dance school that first helped him hone his craft.

Since returning home, Knobloch, a Ballet Master for The Australian Ballet, has reconnected with Dance Development Centre, formerly Canberra Dance Development Centre, to run a series of free online classes in his spare time.

Dance Development Centre’s Director Jackie Hallahan have continued to keep the school running through their online classes, while allowing Knobloch to use their space to teach the Australian Ballet from Canberra.

“They reached out to me and have been sharing through Instagram live … I know a lot of places are doing it through Zoom and charging,” Knobloch said.

“I’m fortunate with Aus. Ballet we’re still getting paid, but I know that a lot of dance schools, the kids don’t have that time to come together in their training.

Knobloch’s classes present a rare opportunity for young dancers to be in the same ‘digital studio’ as many of his professional dancer friends from across the world.

He says the live classes have taken off with up to 70 people, many from the local dance community, joining in.

“I just wanted to offer dancers of all levels an opportunity to take ballet classes alongside other professionals I’ve worked with.

“Through my experience of dancing overseas in America and Europe, a lot of my friends over there aren’t as lucky as me to be getting paid.”

“Even though we’re alone, we’re all together and you can feel a bubbling of energy … You could rarely fit 70 people together in a studio space, so it’s quite a lovely gathering,” he said.

Knobloch said he’s spent time during the pandemic to reflect on his goals and wants to pass on the expertise he’s acquired over his decorated career to the next generation of dancers.

“I think in my capacity now as a ballet master, teacher, coach, I want to help fruit grow on other people’s trees, it’s a time I can help nurture other generations.”

He has found the time spent lately in Canberra with his family to be enriching.

“Dance has taken me all around the world and at this time I came home to be with my family … I’ve very rarely had this amount of time with my mum.

“To be able to draw in this family time, it’s a blessing in disguise, especially with Mother’s Day and Easter; they’re rare times I wouldn’t have had in Canberra for 20 years having travelled and danced around the world,” Knobloch said.

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