For the Love of Dance

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Prance around in a tutu in front of toddlers all day and get paid for it? It sounds too good to be true, but the demand is high for dance teachers in Australia as more and more little ones find their feet and boost their confidence on stage.

Incorporating a love for performing into your everyday life may sound like the life of a fairy princess, but it is very possible for dance enthusiasts. And no, I don’t mean being the prima ballerina, dancing in front of packed theatres every day, but rather passing along your knowledge and passion for dance onto the next generation.

Kinderballet is an Australian company that specialises in introducing classical ballet to toddlers and pre-schoolers. The classes are a mix of fun and games, dress ups, and learning basic ballet technique. The teachers are dance lovers who get themselves dressed up and motivated to teach their classes each week.

Jude Tope, 29, has been a Kinderballet teacher for four and a half years and, although she enjoys every minute of it, she says that it comes with a lot of hard work. “It is rewarding. My first group of students, who began with me when they were two, are now in school, and still come to me for lessons. I love seeing the growth in the kids and it’s also great to build a relationship with their families, to the point where they travel over an hour to ensure I will be the one teaching their child – it’s a great feeling.”

 A dancer since childhood, Jude has found success in turning her love for performing arts into a means for a sustainable income. As well as doing what she loves, other bonuses include petrol allowances for teachers who travel over fifteen kilometres from home for a class, opportunities to move up in the company and even the option to train potential teachers interstate. It also includes great pay increases: says Jude, “I started on twenty-five dollars per hour and am now on forty.”

It fits with her lifestyle perfectly, as she is basically her own boss each day, getting herself motivated and on the road to her next class, and she says she is not overwhelmed with the amount of work she does, as it is something she genuinely thrives on. “I currently teach eighteen classes a week, from Tuesday to Saturday, which averages at three classes a day, except for on Fridays and Saturdays, when I teach a few more.” And the option for more classes is available: “If I want more classes or want to pick up an extra day, they [Kinderballet] are usually very accommodating, especially if the waiting lists are excessive.”

And the demand is certainly there, she says, as dancing is, and always will be, a much loved hobby amongst young people – and for little ones, Kinderballet doesn’t come with too much fuss. “Parents appreciate the fact that it is not a strict ballet school that requires students to wear a set uniform, or be pressured into perfect technique or a huge end of year display.”

Like all activities, trends come and go but performing arts will always have a following, with people always wanting to be involved in the glitz and glamour – although, as Jude has discovered, it’s not always glitter, sequins and tutus. Travelling from suburb to suburb each day, teachers are responsible for their own equipment; this includes stereo, iPod and dock, fairy wings, hand-clappers, hula hoops, ribbons, sticker books and anything else that will keep two year olds fascinated for the length of a class (forty-five minutes).  And everything is fun and games until the car breaks down and the teacher is forced to walk the remainder of the way to her scheduled class, with all the pink, fluffy equipment in tow. Jude laughs, “Walking the streets of Frankston in a ballerina outfit, carrying a stereo, hula hoop and wands, I remember thinking ‘the things I do for these kids!’ But it’s good to know that, even though I am having a bad day, at least they are having a good one.”

At the end of the day, Jude can smile at the fact that she is doing what she loves, making kids happy and earning a living all at once. All she has to do is put on her glittery wings and teach them to dance. Perhaps it is the life of a fairy princess after all.

Learn more about KinderBallet at – www.kinderballet.com.au

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