Colette Brazier, the mother of 5 children, runs a successful community dance school ‘Australian Dance Enterprises’ in Armidale and Guyra.
> How long have you lived in Armidale?
In 1991 I married Ken Brazier and moved from Sydney to my husband’s family property Eckersley Park, Guyra – 60 km north east of Armidale. The same year I received my Diploma in Primary School Teaching and began teaching in primary schools in the Armidale and Guyra areas.
At university, I majored in Creative Arts. This incorporated an extensive dance component that allowed me to further my dance studies while training as a teacher.
> When did you begin to dance?
I started dancing at the age of 3 years. I remember walking a long way to dance classes carrying my ABBA bag and ballet and tap shoes. I was born into a family of dancers – my sister, mum and grandmother all danced.
My sister Sharon was a dance teacher and pursued a professional dancing career for a number of years. Sharon is my dance mentor and the person who encouraged me to start my own dance school here in Armidale.
I have trained in a number of dance styles including classical ballet, jazz, tap, improvisation, creative, modern and contemporary dance.
> When did your dance school first open?
Australian Dance Enterprises was established in 1992. Initially, I believed the dance school would be a creative hobby for me with the added advantage of meeting the local community.
The hobby soon became a business, and the people involved have become lifelong friends. It has been an amazing journey and I appreciate the support I have received from the students, parents and teachers along the way.
Today Australian Dance Enterprises has 6 dance teachers: Mrs Emma Wells, Mrs Karrin Clark, Mrs Melissa Killen, Miss Tiffany Martin, Miss Samantha Edwards, me, and 8 assistant dance teachers.
Student numbers have increased from 60 in 1992 to over 200 in 2009.
> Tell us about your family?
My husband Ken is a grazier and runs our family properties and assists his father with the running of his properties. Ken and his family breed Angus cattle; the family have been breeding Angus cattle since early settlement.
We celebrated the birth of my first son Blake in 1994, and in 1996 Mitchell was born. Family life was busy and the dancing school was continuing to grow. In 1999 Samuel was born, in 2002 Timothy was born, and in 2006 my daughter Molly was born. It is wonderful to watch my 5 children grow and develop at home, school and at the dancing school.
All our children started dancing as soon as they could walk. My second son Mitchell made his first dance appearance at the age of 6 months during our annual dance recital. The boys all enjoy our ‘boys only’ dance group class, as well as participating in a number of traditional sports: football, soccer, cricket, basket ball, horse riding and water skiing.
Dancing from an early age, I believe, has assisted each of my sons with their coordination in the sporting arena. Molly, our 2 year old daughter is already showing signs of developing a love for dance and often falls asleep with her ballet shoes on. Molly also enjoys playing football with her brothers.
My husband, children and parents have all been supportive of my love for dance, Australian Dance Enterprises and the local Armidale/Guyra community. During recital time my parents come up from Sydney for a week prior to assist me with the children as well as the dancing recital.
For 16 years on recital night my husband has been in charge of music, my dad on lighting and my mum assists with ticket sales. Plus, I have a dedicated team of teachers, parents and friends who assist with admin, costumes, stage props and the numerous other tasks that go into a successful production.
> How many students attend, and what type of dancing do you teach?
Today, we teach over 200 students each week – ages range from 3 years to adults. Classes also cater for beginners through to advanced dancers.
Dance classes we offer include: ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, creative, modern, and contemporary dance. We currently have 6 dance teachers, 2 of whom are past students of Australian Dance Enterprises, plus special guest teachers from Sydney from time to time who offer workshops. Other speciality classes include an ‘all boys’ class, eisteddfod and performance classes, private lessons and exam classes.
Australian Dance Enterprises ballet students have in the past have had the opportunity of working with a former dancer from The Australian Ballet, Mrs Elissa Finlay, who continues to give ongoing support to Australian Dance Enterprises.
We have also been lucky to have worked with a number of dance teachers throughout the years who have been living in Armidale while they attended university.
I have taught dance in schools all over the Armidale and Guyra regions: The Armidale School (TAS), Bald Blair Public School, Wongwibinda Public School, Chandler Public School, Newling Public School and New England Girls School (NEGS).
All Australian Dance Enterprises teachers are enrolled in a dance program called ‘Australian Dance Assessment Program’. This is a nationally recognised training course. The course is provided by Australian Dance Vision (ADV).
Australian Dance Enterprises will offer dance education programs and learning strategies for ballet, jazz and tap dancing. Each style progresses from beginner level through to major levels for the advanced dancer. Each level covers specific learning strategies designed to provide competencies for dance education and the basis for assessment.
Each level is assessed by ADV assessors. Australian Dance Enterprises students will have the opportunity to achieve certificates in dance that are recognised nationally and internationally. HSC students will be able to enrol in a 4 unit course designed by ADV and accredited by the Board of Studies. Students will be given an opportunity to be accredited for their training in dance.
Exams and assessments for dance students are optional. Lots of our students enjoy coming to classes for the joy of dance and are not interested in exams and assessments, whereas other students are dedicated to working towards a career in dance and have the opportunity to work devotedly to achieve the elite skills required to complete the exam requirements.
Teachers at Australian Dance Enterprises will receive ongoing quality training from ADV, with teachers attending compulsory workshops and professional development classes every year.
We also use the Glen Wood tap syllabus in some tap classes.
> Do you host special dance concerts?
Every year we host our dance recital at Lazenby Hall UNE, with an audience of parents and friends of over 600 people. The recital gives our students performance, valuable stage experience and the opportunity to show parents and friends the skills they have developed throughout the year.
In term 4 students attend extra rehearsals on Saturday mornings. It is exciting to see younger students sitting and watching in awe at the performances of older students and then practising new steps and moves in the background. These rehearsals and the final performance are the highlight of the year for our students and teachers.
Australian Dance Enterprise students have also performed at Wool Expo, The Centro Shopping Centre in Armidale, Armidale Autumn Festival and regional eisteddfods.
> What would you say to someone interested in attending dance classes?
Dance is a fun way to get fit, learn dance skills, and improve co ordination and confidence. We also provide a safe social environment in which children can grow and develop interpersonal as well as physical skills without competition.
According to my sons – dancing is cool!
Dance is open to everyone at any age. I invite any readers to come in and see me or one of our teachers at The Uniting Church Hall Armidale on Tuesdays from 4pm until 7pm, or Saturdays 9:30am until 2pm, or at the Guyra Presbyterian Church Hall on Thursdays 4pm until 6:30pm to discuss the class best suited to their requirements.
> What are the goals of your dance school?
Our classes aim to provide students with the opportunity to dance in a creative, safe and positive environment in which they can learn all aspects of the art of dance, plus improve dance skills to benefit their everyday living.
We also aim to improve the fitness of students through dance in a fun, stress free atmosphere and help students develop self confidence, self esteem and new social contacts.
> Well known dancers who inspire you …
There are a number of Australian dancers that inspire me, including Lucinda Dunn, Principal Dancer with the Australian Ballet, David Atkins and Dein Perry (fantastic tap dancers and choreographers) and of course Hugh Jackman (Boy from Oz and Australia fame).
I am in awe of brilliant choreographers like Graeme Murphy, Janet Vernon (Ex Sydney Dance Company) and David McAllister (Artistic Director & former Principal Dancer of The Australian Ballet) and movie director Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge).
> Thank you Colette.
For information phone 6775 8371 or 0402 616 984 or visit www.australiande.com