Hi, my name is Samantha, a wife, mother of four, owner and creator of content for Dance Parent 101, as well as Move Dance Learn, and a co-partner in the business my husband runs. We live on the southern coast of eastern Australia in a small seaside town, which sounds quite idyllic except for the fact that the average temperature in summer is only about 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit!
Over the past 40 years I have been on this earth I have been many things. A fulltime dance student and then professional dancer and actor, a dance teacher, a backpacker through Europe whilst working and living in London, a skiier/snowboarder whilst working on the slopes of Whistler Canada, a university student studying dance then later on teaching, a waitress, a sales clerk, an administrator, an office manager, a primary school teacher and now a mother, online business owner as well as a franchise owner with my husband. I have lived a very full life and have much experience and knowledge to share.
ComDance Student Teacher Certificate -Theatrical Branch
ComDance Student Teacher Certificate -Tap Branch
Diploma in Dance (Major in Performing Arts) from Dance World 301 now known as Dance World Studios.
Bachelor of Education (Major in Primary) Australian Catholic University
My Teaching Journey
I had always thought I would one day become a teacher, what type of teacher I was never sure – but I knew I had the patience to teach others and experienced joy when I could see learning occur in others.
My first immersion into teaching was through a youth drama group I attended every Sunday afternoon for roughly six years as a tween and teen. I was given the chance to be an assistant choreographer and in this role, I was asked to create and teach other kids and teens moves to the musical numbers in the productions we would put on every six months. This role prepared me not only in the actual development of my teaching abilities but also developed in me an understanding that preparation was needed to teach – usually a few hours of hard work before rehearsals even began to ensure I knew my stuff!
From there I went on to passing my student teacher CSTD dance exams in both theatrical and tap syllabuses over two consecutive years before being thrust into teaching at the full-time pre-professional dance school I had started attending. I was teaching the junior students tap, jazz and musical theatre lessons before being asked to take over as the jazz and tap instructor for the classical ballet director of the school – Brian Nolan’s personal suburban dance studio. In that year I prepared and took students to dance competitions and developed routines and rehearsed them for their end of year recital.
Unfortunately, at the same time, I was also juggling a professional dance career and one too many times it meant getting in other teachers to cover for me and so when I was asked to come back the following year I decided to decline the offer – I just couldn’t give the students the best experience that they needed when I couldn’t commit to them 100% – but also at the time I wanted to focus on my professional career – I didn’t want to at the time, end up as a just a dance teacher!
Not long after this, my whole life took a different turn as I decided to travel to the UK with my now husband and to Canada to work and travel. Three years later we came back and I was so out of shape dance wise that I decided that I needed a more stable career, I mean I was thinking about the future and possibly having a family soon and so now was the time to pursue and follow my urge to teach and I was accepted as a mature age student into a university Education degree which after four years of study allowed me to teach in primary schools within Australia.
In my fourth year, I was lucky enough to be asked to take on a full time teaching role in one of the schools that I had been doing my teaching rounds at. I was able to move all my university classes around so that I only had to leave my classroom early one day a week. From there I taught another year before taking maternity leave and having my daughter Sydney. I went back to the classroom again, before falling pregnant again with my son Xavier and since then decided to take on casual teaching work when needed so that I can stay at home with my now four children.
But my teaching journey has not stopped, as a mother of four children I have found that although I value the lessons and skills I learned through my university degree and experience as a teacher, nothing or no one has taught me more about being a teacher than my own children!
My Dance Journey
I started dance classes at the age of 5 at a local dance school in the western suburbs of Melbourne under the guidance of Tracy Morley (who went to work as a performer or assistant choreographer on block buster movies Moulin Rouge, Happy Feet 1 & 2 and Bootmen) and Cynthia Watson nee. Boots (Principal of CB Dancers, CSTD Examiner and Adjudicator). I participated in C.S.T.D. dance examinations completing my student teacher certificates in both tap and theatrical dance (ballet, Jazz & Tap).
At around 13, I had gotten myself an acting agent and was working as an extra on many different Australian movies, shows and adverts and worked fairly regularly as an extra on the Australian Television Soap Opera – Neighbours. At 15 I changed high schools so I could study dance as a school subject and was accepted through my drama audition (not dance nor my study scores funnily enough) as a dance/drama major to Deakin University in Victoria.
After a year of studying modern and contemporary dance at university, I realized if I was ever going to follow my dream of being a professional dancer I needed stronger technique training and was accepted into the full time performing arts school in Melbourne, Dance World 301. The school I chose also had a full-time ballet school and therefore I had access to some of the best ballet teaching available and was lucky enough to take a class with the legendary Gelsy Kirkland who commented that I had a lovely port de bras!
I was there for 3 years, rather than the formal two, winning several scholarships for my perseverance and passion. It was during this time that I was also a member of a winning jazz dance troupe, three years in a row at Australia’s largest dance competition ‘The City Of Sydney Dance Eisteddfod’ where we performed on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. Training for this competition was intense and built my stamina and resilience for training in the later professional jobs that I would get.
As a professional dancer I worked in video clips, on television for entertainment shows such as the now-canceled ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’, at the Australian Music Awards (ARIAs), and commercially for corporate jobs. I flew the country doing promotional backup dance work for Australian Aria award winner Joanne BZ and had the privilege of dancing on one of these tours with Ashley Wallen who would later choreograph the box office hit ‘The Greatest Showman’ starring Hugh Jackman.
I most proudly performed in a children’s musical ‘Possum Magic’ By Garry Ginnivan Productions that toured the country playing a season at the Melbourne Arts Centre.
During most of this time to support myself I also did a lot of smaller out of the box jobs such as playing the role of Bart Simpson in full costume in the heat of summer at a theme park – the pay and hours were really good! I also taught tap and jazz lessons at various schools in Melbourne, but because of the nature of my professional work, I was unable to keep this up consistently.
Eventually, though I began to burn out. The constant string of no’s and few yes’s started to bring me down as did the voice of fear in my head telling me I needed a backup plan and that dance was never going to support me forever. Two years after meeting my husband in 1999, I decided to follow him to live in London, not to dance but to work and travel. After our two-year work visa ran out we headed to Canada and worked the Whistler ski fields before returning almost a total of three years later, through the USA, home to Australia where I enrolled as a university student in a teaching degree.
Recently since beginning my website Dance Parent 101 as well as this one, my dance journey and passion for the performing arts has started to reignite and so all I can say is watch this space…. the journey is far from over!