Year 12 student, Mason Bennett, is unsure of the exact pathway he’ll follow beyond secondary school, but one thing is sure. He knows he has choices.
A career in dance is just one possibility.
In preschool, when Mason’s older sister began dance lessons, Mason was enthralled and took every opportunity to copy the class’s dance steps.
By five he was part of the class. At six he was attending dance competitions. Now, more than a decade later, he continues to strive for dance perfection.
“I do a little of everything,” he says. “Jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and lyrical… I truly love them all. I guess if I was pushed to name a favourite it might be tap.”
He usually participates in three major competitions each year, as well as recitals and shows—and thoroughly enjoyed playing the part of Mr Mistoffelees in a recent local production of Cats.
Grateful for his abilities as a dancer, Mason appreciates the opportunities he’s been given and knows how fortunate he is to have parents who support his ambitions.
When he looks back at videos taken of him dancing when he was around 12 year-old, he recalls berating himself for every tiny error or mistimed move.
“I’d love to go back and tell that younger me not to be so hard on himself,” Mason says. “Especially over tiny errors. I’d say, ‘Move on, keep going and become what you want to be’.”
In the context of his Dance studies, Mason is currently featuring in one of BSSC’s Open Day television and social media advertisments.
“It was so interesting to see how complex the filming process was,” he says. “To get the different angles I did multiple performances of the same piece—but I really enjoyed it.”
Mason is also studying French as part of his VCE program. His passion for languages began when his family took a cruise that included New Caledonia—a French territory—and he heard French for the first time.
“I was completely caught up by the idea of speaking a different language,” he recalls. “I loved those pamphlets that proivide tourists with commonly-used French words and phrases.”
Mason began studying French in Year 7 and applies the same determination to learning language as he does to dance.
He also recognises that learning a language can be an act of respect, or even love.
“People feel respected when they here you speaking—or even trying to speak—their language,” Mason says. “Just as hearing English spoken in a foreign country can make you feel more at home.”
An American named Damon Dominique has been something of an inspiration to Mason.
“Damon fell in love with the French language, moved to France and has become a YouTube phenomenon,” Mason explains. “His videos describe the experiences of a foreigner living in France. He’d be great to chat to.”
Such is Mason’s enjoyment of language studies, in his spare time he’s also learning Vietnamese and Chinese. His friends from these cultural backgrounds appreciate his efforts to speak their first language.
Mason plans to visit both China and Vietnam and hopes his language skills will be up to the challenges and improve greatly while there.
Asked about his VCE experience at Senior, Mason’s response is glowing.
“You can have the broadest range of interests and the college does everything to tailor a study program that’s right for you,” he says. “The teachers are so knowledgeable and passionate too.
“My French teacher, Nadege Maurin, really understands how challenging learning a language can be and goes above and beyond to support us.”
Being a BSSC student has allowed Mason to incorporate language and dance studies alongside a fascination with biology—which may lead to a career in forensics or similar domains.
His ‘hot study tip’ is to apply your knowledge—through practice exams and SACs—as a way of learning how to retrieve information when you need it.
Asked about the greatest challenges encountered during VCE, Mason believes the step up to independent learning fast tracks the journey to adulthood.
“It can be scary becoming an adult,” he muses. “One of my dance pieces depicts how I feel about that transition.”
Because of his investment in dance and languages, Mason and has been thinking more broadly and creatively about how passions could combine to contribute to future pathways.
“I can imagine myself studying biology,” he says, “but I can also imagine working on a cruise ship as part of the entertainment team—meeting people from all over the world.
“I also think I’d enjoy being a flight attendant. Or working in the hospitality industry in Paris.”
Whatever comes next for Mason, one thing is clear. The world is most definitely his oyster.