New Horizons: An Interview with ISPA’s Lead Instructors, Alice and Grace

New Horizons: An Interview with ISPA’s Lead Instructors, Alice and Grace
04/07/2024 ASPA
Collage of two images of Alice and Grace performing on stage

New Horizons: An Interview with ISPA’s Lead Instructors, Alice and Grace

As we approach the beginning of our inaugural year of the International School of Performing Arts (ISPA), we are ready and eager for the many moments of joy that lie ahead for our new choristers, dancers, drama enthusiasts, and of course our staff teams. The ISPA team boasts a talented and determined group of women whose experiences in the performing arts are nothing short of spectacular.

Instrumental to ISPA’s launch has been the collaboration with our sister organisation ASPA and The Australian Girls Choir. With over 40 years of musical education experience, the AGC has nurtured thousands of young girls in a supportive, inclusive and energetic environment. The continuously growing organization has been able to flourish largely due to the return of many AGC choristers as staff members, who pass their first hand experiences from their time in the choir with the next generation of choristers. There’s no better example of this growth from chorister to staff member, than our ISPA’s senior Instructors and AGC Alumni, Alice Turner and Grace Collins.

We sat down with Grace and Alice to talk about their ambitions and aspirations for choristers and students across our variety of performing arts programs.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

‘A very good place to start’ is a phrase we tend to use at ISPA, and both Grace and Alice are a strong testament to that!

Grace joined the Australian Girls Choir when she was only 8 years old back in 2006 as an Allegro chorister – just as many of our new AIGC choristers will this year. From a young age, she quickly realised that she was extremely passionate about singing with the AGC and performing on stage. Over the next 10 years in the choir, Grace not only performed in yearly concerts but toured around the world with the AGC, singing in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Toronto to name just a few!

“These tours were such incredible experiences and fuelled my passion for performing. We performed in some brilliant spaces; one of my highlights was performing in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.” – Grace

From these early years in the choir, Grace’s talent and sense of ambition continued to grow. In her final year in the choir, Grace was a leader of the top performance group, Performing Choir. She also put her drama skills to the test, in numerous solo roles throughout her time in AGC!

AGC member Grace performs in a group number on stage during a concert
Grace jumps in the air with her arms up during a dance performance
Grace performs a dance on stage in an Aladdin style outfit with her arms up

 “I always felt like the singing and dancing in choir gave me a great creative outlet! I made some of my closest friends in the choir too. And getting to perform alongside them on some pretty incredible stages was an opportunity I am so grateful for!” – Grace

Alice’s journey with the AGC shares many similarities with Grace, beginning as an Avanti Chorister in 2011. For Alice, weekly AGC rehearsals quickly became a safe place where she could explore her love for the performing arts, challenge herself, and be creative with a group of like-minded people.

“Having choir as a constant in my life during that time was extremely grounding, providing me with support and a creative outlet. I always felt accepted, that my voice was heard” – Alice

Alice’s infectious positivity and knack for fostering a strong sense of community were acknowledged when she was awarded the role of Choir Leader for the AGC in Melbourne in 2018.

 “I’m someone who likes to be challenged, and that was something that I consistently got through my time in the choir. I was always learning new things, but in a different way that you would in school, which made it so enjoyable” – Alice

Alice performs jazz hands on stage
Alice performs as Miss Hannigan on stage during an AGC Annual Concert. She holds her arms out wide as she looks up to the sky
Alice performs as part of an ensemble. She pulls a funny face as she sings to the girl in front of her.

From little things, big things grow

Every year, the new music and performance opportunities Alice and Grace threw themselves into made each chapter of their AGC story different and surprising. Having spent a significant portion of their formative years in the choir, many of the experiences and memories have stuck with them today – among the moments of sparkle and joy spent on the AGC stages, there were countless soft skills that they gained along the way.

“When I look back at it now, singing in the choir did so much in building my character and values. It gave me confidence in myself and my capabilities, and teamwork skills that I continue to use every day in my work!  I think it also gave me a very opportunistic outlook, I’m eager to give new things a go even if they seem a bit daunting at first!” – Grace

“It really helped my ability to listen to others. When singing in the choir, I was listening for harmonies, but now I find I can listen closely to nuances in ideas. It also gave me public speaking skills which gave me the upper hand as I moved into higher education settings, and had to give presentations and collaborate with my peers.” – Alice

Alice laughs on stage under the spotlight while the girl next to her speaks
Grace performs with a bright smile on stage as part of a group number

Setting their sights on Singapore

This next chapter of their AGC stories will be the biggest and most exciting yet. Both are excited to embark on a memorable adventure that gives them a chance to explore new communities, immerse themselves in a new culture, and spread their love of performing on an international stage!

“I’ve never lived overseas so I am really excited to immerse myself in a new community and culture. It’s kind of two-way learning that you can find through the performing arts that excites me.” – Alice

“Beginning the journey with ISPA means completely new classes of choristers to share their love for the performing arts with, which I could not be happier about! Performing arts has always been something that gives me energy and lets me express myself, so I hope this is a feeling I can bring to our ISPA choristers, CCA and Holiday Camp participants” – Grace

“I like to let myself explore a more silly and humorous part of my personality through the performing arts, which is always a treat because it builds my confidence! I hope this is something I can share with more children through ISPA” – Alice

Grace faces away from the camera as she conducts a large group of AGC choristers
Alice strikes a pose as she conducts a group of AGC choristers on stage

The stage is set!

The AGC magic that we hope to impart through ISPA’s launch in Singapore has been pivotal in shaping both women, giving them the confidence and self-assuredness to dream big, and in many ways has encouraged them to continue reaching for the stars as they head to Singapore in August. The pair have a few words of wisdom to share before we begin our first classes…

“We often can arrive to new things, like an AIGC class, and don’t know everyone! But the best way to make new friends is to be courageous and ask someone a question. Maybe it’s ‘what is your favourite song or singer?’ or even ‘do you prefer singing or dancing? — you can find out a lot about someone very quickly, and what you have in common with them!” – Alice

“One of the best things about beginning something for the first time is that you’ll probably have lots of questions, so never be afraid to ask them! Questions keep you curious, and is what encourages and blossoms creativity! Give new things a go, step out of your comfort zone and who knows where it will take you!” – Grace

Experience the joys of the performing arts at ISPA and learn more about how the AIGC, Holiday Camps and school programs can bring out the best in your daughter!