New: Live & Digital Ballet Masterclasses with Miss Alex

Experience Ballet from a Renowned (ex-)Ballerina & Masterclass Teacher

Professionally trained in France, Alex has trained with ballet masters from the Paris Opera Ballet, Bejart Ballet, New York City Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, and many more. She brings encouraging yet challenging and fun classes to students aged 8 to 18 years old that include classical repertoire work and advanced pointe techniques.

Delight with a Class in the French School of Dance Style

Australia, New Zealand and Asia’s classical dancing is heavily funded on the (beautiful) British School of dance technique with most students following the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus. Some follow a more Russian influence which comes directly from the Vaganova Method of St Petersburg. But rare are the teachers in these parts of the world with direct experience with the prestigious French School of Dance.

Miss Alex is delighted to bring you her expertise as a traditionally trained & professionally experience French ballerina. Her last Australia/New Zealand masterclass tour was in 2012 when her first book “How To Be A Ballet Dancer” was published. This tour was a huge success and took her across both countries into dozens of schools including pre-professional ones such as the Conlan College, Amanda Bollinger Dance Academy, the Tanya Pearson Academy, and many more.

Ballet Books

As a former professional ballerina, I share my deep knowledge of the ballet world in my growing collection of educational ballet books. 

My work helps young dancers navigate the difficult path to professional artist and athlete.

With my books, I hope to bring game-changing information to an inspiring, dedicated, and passionate audience of young ballet dancers.

Your book is AMAZING! It has literally changed my life!

Eilis, 14, Lisa Clark Dance Centre
Review of How to be a Ballet Dancer, 2012 Edition

Ballet Books Collection

100 Healthy Snacks
(for dancers)
2012 Edition

How To Be
A Ballet Dancer
(2012 Edition)

Ballet Feet:
The Ultimate Dancer's Guide To Foot Health, Strength & Skill

Always More New & Exciting Ballet Books In The Making!

Alex's Journey as a Ballerina

My love story with dance began when I enrolled in a jazz class at 9 year old in a local school, after watching my neighbour dance at her end-of-year dance concert.

Forced to take most of the year off due to a genetic knee illness which put me in a full-leg cast. At the time, no body-conditioning, nor physiotherapy was offered to recover… A terrible mistake which will speed up the end of my career.

Started classical dance (ballet) at age 11, realising that this is where I belonged all along. It took a lot of grit to keep showing up to class as I was placed with the 6-8 year-old students to catch up on basics. Within a few months of very hard work and focus, I finally joined the class of my peers. 

Taking more classes each year until the hours added-up to solid part-time training after school, I travelled to competitions across France and Europe and gained national recognition alongside invaluable stage experience.

Trained full-time as a professional at the Conservatoire National of Lyon (France) while finishing high school via distance education. Incredibly lucky to have learned from teachers and masters from the Paris Opera Ballet, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, NY City ballet, and many – many- others.

Broke the 2nd metatarsal bones on both feet due to overwork, malnutrition, and major roles I was cast for and didn’t want to miss out on. This lead to months of painful recovery and my first bout of severe depression.

Professional dancer in guest and professional performances in France, Monaco, Germany, Luxembourg, Georgia, Austria, and Australia. Danced with the Youth Ballet of Lyon and the Tanz Atelier Wien. Under the promise of a contract with Sydney Dance Company (once I obtained a suitable working visa in Australia), I trained with the company while also working on creative contemporary dance projects with Dirty Feet in Sydney.

Struggling to gain a work visa, I suffered a career ending knee injury while working on a contemporary project with Martin Del Amo. Lost and heartbroken, I found some relief by learning and teaching ballroom & latin dance classes at the Sydney Arthur Murray Dance Studio. (with such a solid professional ballet background it took weeks to learn and master in ballroom what most learn in years!)

After many years away from dance, in which I formed a family with the man I fell in love with, I learned about online marketing, business, and publishing and was inspired to share my knowledge and learnings in writing. That’s how my first book How To Be A Ballet Dancer was born.

Toured Australia and New Zealand to promote the book while teaching ballet masterclasses. and working as an adjudicator for ballet competitions such as Coast Quest, the Sydney Eisteddfod, and more, focussing on scholarship events, I loved the connection with young dancers. This is also the year I founded the International Ballet Workshops to bring international scholarship and learning opportunity to the ballet dancers of Australia & New-Zealand.

Settled for a while in Tamworth, NSW, as I took over a struggling ballet school in need of a fresh new creative outlook. With my team, we worked on growing the studio, bringing as many learning opportunities as we could to the young dancers under our care. The studio tripled in size within a year, and I then handed it over to my talented studio manager and newly appointed artistic director.

Life played another trick on me as I finished my first year as a ballet school owner in hospital, becoming fully deaf in my left ear and causing severe vestibular nerve damage. This virus-induced accident left me walking for weeks with a walker and with permanent and heart-breaking disability. Unable to withstand loud noise and movement, I had to reluctantly let go of the dance school & ballet workshops.

I took years to heal what could be healed, while learning to live with a serious handicap. While taking time to heal, reflect, and learn, I worked as a very successful dance business coach for many years, but never ceased to write. Writing and reading have always been passions as big as what dance had become so in May 2020, I finally decided to call myself a writer and commit to this new creative path. Because I learned that without creativity, my heart was dying a slow and agonising death. A heart – my heart – must create to feel alive and joyful. And just for that I am glad I have my hands, mind, and experiences to put that work out into the world.

For the longest time I felt I was going to die young. It’s not the kind of thing that is easy to explain or make sense of, but it was a strong feeling that lasted from my early childhood until I turned thirty-one years old. Feeling Damocles’ sword hanging above my head led me to pack an entire life of experiences in my first three decades on earth. 

I’ve studied, explored, loved, travelled the world, learned two foreign languages fluently, taken risks, moved across the globe, got married, birthed two perfect children, bought a house, built a business from an idea, bought another business and renovated it before reselling it for profit, helped countless people often for free and lived a life without much room for regrets… You know, because my time was coming. 

And my time did come, except for one important detail: I didn’t really die. I almost did. 

What happened next is too long and sad a story for this letter, so I’ll keep things simple. The virus that sent me to hospital wreaked havoc in my body and left me handicapped for life. Overnight, I was forced to give-up my entire life’s work and passion for dance, for a very frightening clean slate of a future. 

It was devastating, but the terrible news did not end when learning I would remain deaf in one ear for the rest of my life. Repeat life altering diagnosis turned into multi-layered trauma added to existing traumas from my pre-illness life… My health and life became a giant mess.

Honestly, it still is too hard some days, because I haven’t fully designed or even imagined the life I want to create for a future I never thought I was going to experience. Makes sense? I hope so.

But when I look further back than the “accident”… I can see so much life, and despite some traumatic experiences. I’ll tell you my friend… How I’ve lived! 

I tell my husband that if I were to die today, I would die with only two regrets, and those would be to not see my children grow-up and to not see us grow old together. Other than that, I’m satisfied. I know I will die in peace, because I’ve spent a lifetime preparing myself for it and when I flirted with death, it was love that stood out, not regret.

After being ill, when looking at my new state of being, at my now and future, I felt insignificant, living one day at a time, barely surviving. I just couldn’t see what I had to offer to contribute to this world, being unable to sustain the physical efforts required or being untrained in the fields I wanted to work in. My mental health degraded fast and when the relief of death was all I could think about, I finally sought out help from a psychologist with the support of my husband, children, and close friends. 

This is when my thirty years of personal development packed into three started. I meditated multiple times daily. I attended personal transformation seminars, read self-help books, and allowed myself to feel the now instead of escaping it. Until one day, I was able to reach a state of deep peace and gratitude for the growth my near-death experience brought me.

And this, my friend, is when I started to share my story…

And the more I shared it, the more I realised how powerful it was. People’s responses were incredible to witness. Many leaned on it to create significant change in their lives lasting to this day. 

I have since been coaching and inspiring people – especially women – to have the courage and resources to make positive changes in their lives, no matter what hardship comes their way, making adversity a friend, not a foe. This work has become the focus of my readings and research and a deep source of motivation in life.

Finally grounded, life brought back memories of my childhood dreams of becoming an author. I’d already published a small cookbook as well as a guide for young dancers, but never felt like an author as such. The memories came to me in dreams, in random messages from family and friends (close and long-lost) who suddenly felt the urge to reach out and remind me of my dream. It was the strangest and one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Everyone and everything pushed me to write, almost beyond what is reasonable. Life wasn’t subtle in showing me what my life’s work really should be about.

But now I’m listening and answering the call: Here I am. Alex Cownie, the dancing writer. 

My books share the life stories of inspiring women who not only survived the impossible but thrived and shined brighter because of it.

Do you also have a story aching to be told that made you greater than you knew was possible? Please visit the Stories page and apply for Alex to write your story.