Milestone for dance company

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Charmaine Quaid and some of her dancers at the Balmoral Hall.

By Mick Jensen

A dance company milestone will be marked with two special jubilee performances at Ashburton Trust Event Centre on June 22.

Dance Worx, once known as Ashburton Academy of Dance, has been teaching ballet and jazz ballet to local girls for the last 50 years.

Run by Charmaine Quaid, the dance school has been based at Balmoral Hall for 44 of those years and has seen hundreds of students pass through its doors and dozen of productions performed over that time.

Mrs Quaid said there had been a resurgence of classical ballet over the last eight to 10 years.

Today she had 240 students, aged between three and 17, and ran 15 ballet classes a week.

Former student Jessie Thomson also taught jazz ballet and helped with some classical classes, while another former student, Anna Summerfield, ran classes for preschoolers.

Mrs Quaid is on to her third generation of dancers and started teaching before she was 13.

Five year old dancers today were no different from those learning dance four or five decades ago, she said.

“I think that is part of the ‘loveliness’ of ballet.

“As well as teaching ballet to my girls, I’m also educating dance audiences of the future and trying to instil a life-long love of dance.”

The two Dance Worx celebration shows will feature a repertoire in two halves and will involve all current dance school students.

The first half will showcase classical ballet and will include routines with fairies, flora and fauna, while the second half will revive items from past shows and new material.

Show costumes will be adjusted and tweaked by Barbara Beach, who has lent a hand with sewing over the last 35 years, and there will also be a march past, or some sort of acknowledgement of past pupils in the audience.

Mrs Quaid said the shows would need to run with military precision because of the large number of students involved.

A big thrill for her was watching the youngsters’ faces from the sidelines as they took to the stage.

“There is a lot of stress on the adults, but the aim is to keep that away from the performers and to ensure they have the maximum excitement and enjoyment from the experience.”

for shows at 2pm and 6.30pm cost $21.99 for adults and $11.99 for those under 10.