By Ian Williams
Natasha English never dreamed of combining her two passions of teaching and dancing as a career.
But then the high-energy 31-year-old (pictured back row, centre in headline image) never factored in the power of popular demand.
After graduating with honours in health sciences, Natasha took a gap year and started working for a Whyalla dance studio and doing some workshops in Port Pirie.
When that ended she retreated back to Adelaide – and that’s when the calls started. Dancers in Port Pirie wanted her back and Natasha didn’t disappoint.
She launched her own business Hip Hop Bounce in 2011, initially visiting Port Pirie once a week and making the five-hour round trip there and back from Adelaide in a day.
In the five years since Natasha has made Mid North South Australia her home and established a thriving dance school with campuses in Port Pirie, Jamestown and Clare. She employs nine other dance teachers, offers 70 classes a week and has about 500 students on her books.
“I never intended this to be my career, I just fell into it,” says Natasha. “The teaching wasn’t so much a surprise but I always saw myself teaching what I was studying, health sciences.
“Teaching dance and moving out this way was a big surprise for sure. I brought my own approach and we do a lot of hip hop and cheerleading which are very physical.”
As the numbers grew Natasha added different dance genres for all age groups from two years to adult. Today she offers everything from ballet, jazz and contemporary to tap, tumbling and acrobatics, and also glee song and dance.
“A student can have a really fun dance class once a week or go through to training as a national competitor,” says Natasha.
“I’m also developing my own student-teacher training course and collaborating with certified bodies in Adelaide to give students career training without leaving the region.
“I’m trying to create jobs and also pathways to these careers, so it’s growing to be a lot more than a bit of dance, which is wonderful.”
And then there’s RAVE, an annual two-day dance event initiated by Natasha in Port Pirie as a “side project” two years ago.
Like most things Natasha puts her mind to, RAVE has turned into a major regional success story.
This year’s August event brought together more than 400 teachers and students from 13 different dance schools and mainstream schools for a series of competitions and workshops involving some of Australia’s leading dancers.
“RAVE started as a traditional dance competition but I didn’t like the idea of people just competing,” says Natasha.
“Instead they can also participate in workshops, create film clips, and access world-class, one-on-one tuition with some of the country’s best dance artists and teachers.”
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