If you dipped your tiny toes into the world of dance as a kid, you’ll probably have fond memories of the clickety-clack of brand new tap shoes, pink ballet tights or super sparkly jazz leotard.
Then there are those of us who remember the tightly wound bun and stern face of a dance teacher who didn’t seem to understand the meaning of fun at all. That memory is all-too-familiar to Melinda Hack, a dancer with 15 years in the industry, who vowed never to be like her super-strict childhood teacher.
In fact, that’s what inspired her to flip the script and open up Dancebox Studios in Perth, where little ones can learn to dance in an environment that fosters positivity, creativity, and camaraderie.
We had a chat to Melinda to find out more.
Tell us about how you got started dancing.
I started dancing at a local studio around the corner when I was four after my mother became concerned I was watching too much TV. I’d replay the dance scenes from Strictly Ballroom and Annie over and over, so they sent me off to lessons.
Why did you want to start your own dance studio?
I have always wanted to teach dance and love working with kids. I also think if you can find a way to combine your passion with your work life, it’s a recipe for happy horizons. It’s incredibly rewarding to see, first-hand, the joy kids experience when they are dancing and moving to music. Unlike adults, they’re free of inhibitions, and just give it their all. I also love the creativity of choreographing routines that kids enjoy.
What do you love about being a dance instructor?
The chance to teach students a foundation of dance skills and knowledge and watch them improve with practice each week. It’s not about teaching four-year-olds poise and grace. In the early years, the focus is on fostering a love of dance by providing a positive environment. It’s about letting little ones express themselves, explore their range of movement, make friends and have fun.
Who’s your favourite dancer and why?
Misty Copeland, who is the first African American female principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Not only is Misty an incredible and inspirational dancer, she also spent five days in Rwanda in 2015, teaching dance to boys and girls as part of the MindLeap’s program, a non-profit group who strives to rehabilitate street children in post-conflict countries. Misty is instrumental in promoting the message that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of dance.
She sounds like an amazing inspiration. What’s your favourite style of dance?
Tap dancing! Tap provides such a great understanding of music and rhythm and has next-level fun factor. It’s also a great workout for your body and brain as you learn beat-based steps and combinations.
What’s your favourite dance movie?
While I’m still a huge fan of Strictly Ballroom and the Step-Up movies are fun and flashy, Centre Stage has to be the ultimate dance film!
Dancebox Studios is set to open in two locations, Yokine and South Perth, on February 29 and will be offering tap, ballet and jazz classes to students aged 3-15. Head on over to the Dancebox Studios website for more information!
Photo courtesy of Community Newspaper Group