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The Dorothy Cowie School of Dancing's mission is to encourage the enjoyment of dance.  The celebration of this enjoyment is for students of all ages to participate in a friendly, safe and supportive environment.

We strive to ensure our student's talent is nurtured and to recognise a student's full potential if graduates wish to pursue their performing arts career further.

Our teachers are trained and committed to each students all aspects of dance and at the same time promote self confidence, strengthen their ability, encourage individual personal achievement and focus on their enjoyment and love of the performing arts. 


Our vision is to empower students to acquire dance knowledge, skills, respect and excellence that can support them in all aspects of their lives beyond the perfoming arts.




Dorothy began dancing at the age of 4 in Auburn.  She learnt "Fancy Dancing", not Classical Ballet.  At the age of 14, Dorothy began to study dancing seriously. In 1953-54 she travelled to London to complete her studies under Mr Espinosa for the British Ballet Organisation, Phyllis Bedells for the Royal Academy of Dance and with Adelaide Caulder for her
Highland Degree.


Her qualifications included: Advanced British Ballet Organisation; Advanced Royal Academy of Dance; Licentiate Cecchetti Society; Fellow Society of Australian Teachers of Dancing; Highland Degree 'member of United Kingdom Professional Teachers of Dacing Alliance and Teacher Diploma in Operatic Dance Teachers Society.


Miss Cowie’s teaching career began in 1937, when she rented a hall in Burwood - she was appointed as an Examiner in 1940 and in 1957 she built her own studio in Burwood. In her first year of teaching Miss Cowie taught approximately 15 pupils, and the maximum number of pupils in one year was around 500, her oldest student was still dancing at 67 years of age.


The purpose built studio in Burwood held many happy memories for students, including The Ballet Classique Group, which had its own wardrobe. This group entertained at senior citizen shows and nursing homes. There were also performances at the inaugural opening of Westfield Burwood.


In 1987 Donna Burland, a pupil of Miss Cowie’s for 21 years, took over the dancing school as Miss Cowie retired. During this year Donna was forced to find another studio – the Croydon Masonic Hall (now called the Imar Community Centre) where classes are still held.


Sadly in 1999 Miss Cowie passed away.  At the time of her death she was Foundation member and Honorary Life Member of SATD; Foundation Member, Honorary Life Member and Patron of ATOD; Foundation Member and Honorary Life Member of SODA, and Honorary Member of the Imperial Society of Dance Arts (Cecchetti).






As a small child my mother took my older sisters to dance classes with Ms Dorothy Cowie at the Dance Studio in Burwood. It was not long before I started classes too. My enthusiasm and love of dance soon was quite obvious and one class turned into two classes and then more. One day a week soon turned into two days a week and then even more; including a private lesson with Miss Dorothy Cowie herself. The dance studio was my second home and my life revolved around 'dancing'.


Under the warm and caring instruction of Miss Cowie, I participated in examinations in all dance genres with results of 'honours' and 'honours plus', completing ATOD Teacher levels, competitions, exhibitions, eisteddfords and so on.


In 1987 I was very fortunate to be offered the acquisition of the Dorothy Cowie School of Dancing by Miss Cowie and transferred the Studio to the Croydon site. My new title was now Principal and I have strived to continue Ms Cowie's legacy with her beloved Dance School and to embrace her philosophy of nurturing children's enjoyment and love of arts and especially 'dance'.


Quite a number of ex-students have continued dancing at the School when syllabus work finished or they reached a mature age. A number of these students are now assistant teachers in the School and remain loyal to our team of staff.  A few students have furthered their dancing careers professionally, with the Australian Ballet School,

London Broadway Shows, and Choreographers on board cruise ships and some have formed dance troupes for professional shows.


Today the studio offers over 100 classes a week catering for all ages and I am proud to say that Dorothy Cowie is not only a dance studio, it is a home and great social environment for all our students and families. We welcome all!


In 2015, Donna was proud to receive the Inner West's Local Business Award for Most Outstanding

Buisness Person of the Year.  The School has also been acknowledged at this award in the past.  

In 2009, full time employer Rebecca Travaglini received Youth Award and in 2014 Dorothy Cowie

School of Dancing was awarded Outstanding in Education Services and also the Gold Award,

Inner West Business of the Year!

In 2016, Dorothy Cowie School of Dancing was again awarded Outstanding Service in Education from the

Inner West Business Awards - a title we are very proud to keep.  Principal, Donna Burland was also

privledged to receive the ATOD Avril Binzer Memorial Award in Brisbane at the Australasian

Scholarship Competition.  See below for her thankyou speech:


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