“…enjoy the process and have fun with dance. Aspire for greatness and strive towards your goals with determination and passion.” – Robert Mills
Robert is a Distinguished Graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance and holds the Graduate Diploma of Elite Dance Instruction from The Australian Ballet School.
During his career, he danced with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre and West Australian Ballet.
Robert has performed principal roles including The Nutcracker Prince, the lead dancer in The Rite of Spring, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet.
Career highlights include dancing in works by inspiring choreographers Jiří Kylián, George Balanchine, Glen Tetley and John Cranko.
Recognised as an outstanding member of The Australian Ballet School faculty, we know Robert brings passionate and generous commitment to his teaching.
What’s your highlight from your time at the New Zealand School of Dance?
It would undoubtedly be the family-like environment that envelops you while you’re here as a student. The commitment and dedication needed for the art form bring together people with a like-minded dedication to their goals and dreams, which is incredibly inspiring. Being in the midst of such a community was both enriching and motivating. The tutors, including Garry Trinder, Yuriy Klymenko and Christine Gunn, deserve special mention because they managed to bring out the best in me. The classes were also amazing, giving me the space to focus and work without any distractions. The repertoire was another highlight because the School offered various performance opportunities, the most remarkable being Balanchine, which was an incredible experience for me as a student. Finally, I am thankful that the School encouraged lifelong friendships among its students, which means that even after two decades, my peers and I can still come together with the same spirit and enthusiasm.
What drew you back to the New Zealand School of Dance as a tutor? Was it always part of your plan to return to the School?
After retiring from the stage in 2014, I went through a period of uncertainty where I wasn’t sure what my next step would be. I started exploring different options, including personal training, but it didn’t click with me. Tutoring students pursuing a career in dance was something that I had never done before other than teaching adult dance classes. However, I discovered that I loved it and felt inspired by the students. It felt like a way to give back to the community that I had learnt so much from during my own dance career.
As a freelancer, I spoke to Garry, who directed me towards The Australian Ballet School Teaching Training Programme, where I gained invaluable experience and knowledge from the staff and students. This experience further solidified my desire to become a full-time tutor. Even during the pandemic, I continued to work hard and remained flexible and open to opportunities that came my way.
Eventually, the opportunity to return to the New Zealand School of Dance as a tutor presented itself. It was a rare chance to return to my roots and teach alongside the tutors who had been instrumental in my own dance journey.
For me, this is not only a huge responsibility but also a chance to give back, guide and support a new generation of students, just as my own tutors had inspired me. It’s about passing on the knowledge and experiences that have touched me so deeply and inspiring the students the way I was inspired. It’s a way to give back to a community that has given me so much.
What is your teaching philosophy and how does it align with the values of the School?
It is focused on bringing out the best in students by inspiring and nurturing them, as well as developing a mindset of growth that will help them thrive in the art form. I believe my role as a dance tutor is to guide and encourage them to push their limits and create a supportive environment as part of the School faculty.
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?
Follow your passion and remain positive. If you truly love dance and are willing to put in the hard work, then go for it. Allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to achieve your goals, but also be realistic and stay grounded.
Life is an adventure and there is so much to explore in the world of dance; it is a global art form that can take you to many exciting places.
Remember that success requires consistent effort, dedication and hard work.
I encourage you to never give up and always give your best effort because, at the end of the day, it is your journey and it is up to you. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Stay curious and always seek to improve your skills and knowledge. Most importantly, enjoy the process and have fun with dance. Aspire for greatness and strive towards your goals with determination and passion.