We do not know much about dance in Australia. Australia as far as we know is not noted as a country with a strong dance tradition. An Australian reader tells us that this is not entirely accurate. The most famous Australian dancer was Sir Robert Helpmann. Our reader points out that there are several Australian films that deal with dance, including ballet. Films include:
"Strictly Ballroom", "Tap Dogs" and "Razzle Dazzle". Our reader tells us, "Aussies have enjoyed many dance films as part of its deeper classical culture, a legacy of the British mother country." The Australian Ballet supplies dancers to all over the world. Various dance companies in Australia scarcely need to advertise their performance programs, as they often perform to packed houses. Dance schools are well stocked with numerous talented students.
One Australian mother living in Bendigo, Victoria reports that dance is a major activity in her city. She dances as an adult and is encouraging her sons (aged 5 and 8 years) to do so too.
When I was 8 yeats old my mum took my sister to dancing lessons and took me along too. I saw some boys there and at the time I thought they were spastic because the teacher was teaching them steps and they didn't do them properly. I told my mum I could better than
that so she said I shold give it a try. The next week I went with my sister and joined the class. There were 20 students, with 12 girls and 8 boys all about the same age as me. The teacher thought I was very good, and so mum said I should stick with it. The class
didn't have a uniform as such, though all the girls wore the same bright pink leotards and tights, and some wore tutus, and the boys all wore their school sport shorts and T shirts. Everybody had to wear ballet slippers. The girls slippers were pink and the boys were
white or black and worn with socks. I enjoyed the class a lot, especially when we were jumping about at the end and everyone would giggle. At the end of the year, some older students from the same school who came in after we left put on a show for all the parents.
We got to sit in the front row and watch. I was very excited by the dancers and looked forward to being able to leap and jump like they did.
When I was 10, the dancing teachers changed, and the new teacher changed the way we had our class. First she changed the layout of the barres and the position of the piano. Then she told us that she was going to make us wear proper uniforms. She gave us all a piece of paper which had the uniform list which I had to give to my mum. The next week, I turned up for class with my new uniform in a big bag I now had to carry every time I went to class. Me and the other students all had to get changed in the hall together. Us boys had to wear a white leotard which was made of stretchy cotton. We had to take off almost all our clothes, and then we put the leotard on over our undies. Then over the top of the leotard, we had to wear black tights. These were special tights for dancing boys, and had a very high top, which pulled up normally like not to stretch would reach almost our armpits. We then had
to roll the top down to form a rolled up belt. Over the tights we wore our slippers. Some boys were allowed to wear socks over their tights, but only 2 did that.
We did dance class in the new uniform, and most of us didn't mind. I think I didn't like it at first, but after a while I didn't care, and by the end of the class I even felt it felt pretty good. The teacher said she saw a big difference in the way we moved and that she liked it, so we thought it was for the best. At that time I don't think any of us knew what other schools were wearing. It wasn't until later that we learned that most boys in other schools wore tights at least, and many wore leotards as well. The students in younger classes had a different costume. The boys had to wear the same white leotard as us older boys, but instead of black tights, they wore dark blue lycra shorts with very short legs and a belt. They also had to wear knee high white socks and white slippers.
At the end of the year, we did a performance, and I played a hunter. I wore a big red coat and wide blue breeches and big leather boots which were hard to walk in never mind dance! One of the other boys was a prince and wore a gold and blue coat with no sleeves, a puffy white shirt and white tights. He was also a very good dancer, and the rest of the class and even the teacher knew that.
When I was 11, we moved house to a new suburb, so I had to leave the class which made me very sad. The new suburb had a dance school, but in the class I went to see there was only 1 boy and 10 girls. The teacher was very pleased to see another boy, and because I joined I was the teacher's favourite for a long time. This school had a uniform different to my last school, so we had to buy a new uniform. This school's uniform for boys was a blue lycra unitard which mum said was very expensive so I had to be very careful with it (I had worn out many pairs of tights at my old school). I had to wear a dance belt with it, which I didn't like at first but I got used to it after a while. I also had to wear knee high white socks and white ballet slippers. The unitard did not have feet like tights, so the socks were needed. I enjoyed that school because the teacher was very caring for us, and she even
invited a male teacher once for just the two of us boys to learn some moves just for boys which made us feel special.
When I was 12, we did an end of year performace, and I got to be the prince for an older student who played the princess. I had a white coat and white frilly shirt, and wore white lycra tights and a dance belt, and white shoes. I also had a crown made of gold leafs which kept trying to fall off but I never let it do that. The audience was only small but it was my first time on stage as a dancer who danced and it felt wonderful. The applause at the end made me feel on top of the world!
At the beginning of the following year we had to move again, and we ended up in a suburb with no dance school at all. I was also starting high school which meant extra homework, and the nearest dance school was so far away that parents decided I could not go to dance school any more because they could not afford it. So I stopped dancing lessons. I still dance today but only for fun, and mainly with my beautiful girlfriend, who is also a dancer. We
don't go to lessons, and dance in what ever we are wearing.
I sometimes went to dance class when I was 10 because I was small for my age and was always hammered into a pulp at footy [football]. I made a lot of noise that I didnt want to be a ballerina so I was put into a dance class for boys. I dont remember how many boys
there were in class but there must have been at least 10. We did funk, jazz, rap and even tap dancing. For all these styles we were supposed to wear the same costume. We had to wear a white T-shirt and black bike shorts and white ankle socks and black dance shoes wich are different to ballet slippers because they have a harder sole and are laced up like a
normal shoe and for tap needed special tap dancing shoes. Since I already normally wore bike shorts I didnt see any of this as a problem, but one boy in class did and quit because of it which I think was stupid, but what can you do. A couple of years after we changed uniform to black sweat shirt instead of the white T-shirt. We had to warm up first wich we did in our tracksuit. In winter we were allowed to wear black leggings if we wanted, but none of us did preferring to wear our tracksuit pants over our bike shorts. I gave up dancing after a major growth spert meant I was no longer hammered at footy. That was when I was 15.
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