Hip-hopping for a cause

Dance teacher Poppy Donaldson leads a hip-hop workshop for budding dancers keen to learn new moves and support people affected by the Australian bushfires.

By Toni Williams

Dance teacher and choreographer Poppy Donaldson ran a hip-hop workshop in Ashburton last weekend to raise money for people affected by the Australian bushfires.

The 26-year-old, who has lived in Melbourne, Australia, for the past seven years hails from Ashburton. She was home for the holidays and wanted to do something to support those back in her newly-adopted country.

“It’s something that really hits home for me because it’s the place I chose to make my second home and literally the whole country is on fire at the moment,

While her own home in the city was untouched, she knew of people who had been affected.

“There’s been a lot of bushfires around Melbourne and it’s affected a lot of the people I know and a lot of families of people I know.”

Her workshop was well received. Twenty-five women, of all ages and abilities, took up her offer to learn some hip-hop moves at the Balmoral Hall in downtown Ashburton on Saturday. It was the studio she learned to dance in more than 20 years ago.

Ms Donaldson, who has been dancing since she was three years old, has been choreographing and teaching dance since she was 15 years old.

She originally trained under Ashburton dance teacher Charmaine Quaid and then worked with musical theatre, including the children’s and operatic theatres in Ashburton, the Methven Theatre Company and Hagley Dance Company in Christchurch before venturing across the Tasman to take up a scholarship study opportunity at The Edge Performers School in Melbourne in 2011.

It opened up the door to professional work and she now teaches dance, including hip-hop, jazz, tap and ballet, at two studios in Melbourne six days a week. One of those studios has a hip-hop dance team which competes in the United States every two years.

During the 90-minute workshop, which included cardio warm-up and stretches, budding dancers learned some grooves, learned about isolation body movements, waacking (a dance style) and to let go and have fun.

She encouraged people to ask heaps of questions.

“It’s going to be super fun, super chilled,” she said before the workshop.

“It’s all about just getting out there and doing something fun for yourselves but also for the community.”

She was grateful for the support from the Ashburton District Council and the dance studios around town who had shown their support.

Money raised from the workshop was to be given to Salvation Army who were helping people affected by the fires.

Check out the video at ashburtoncourier.co.nz

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