Simone runs Blu’s School of Dance, and One Agency sponsors a scholarship for dancers at the school. We had a chat with Simone about what her students gain from dancing, and how she avoids getting her hands dirty at the SES.
I like the opportunities that you get living in Singleton. I was born in Harrington and moved to Singleton when I started Year Seven. When we moved to Singleton, there was just so much more here. It's central to everything as well. Newcastle and Sydney are not too far, so it's easy to enjoy those things but then still live in a nice, local, small town.
I’ve been dancing since I was four or five, and I’ve danced at Blu’s since I moved to Singleton. I started assistant teaching in 2010 and in 2013 I became a teacher. At the end of 2017, I heard that the owner was trying to sell. I had a chat with my partner and the more we spoke about it, the more it made sense, so I ended up buying the studio. It's been in Singleton for thirty-two years. Now we're putting our spin on it while keeping the Blu’s reputation.
I wouldn't call myself very artistic when it comes to a pen and paper, but dancing lets you be artistic whilst still being active.
It’s a job that’s family-friendly. I get to be around people, and I really enjoy that. You get to watch and help kids grow, and you can teach them so much more than just their technique. Dancing is more than just dancing, and that’s what we try and teach at Blu’s.
Dancing is a sport that really builds confidence. For example, we've just had our students dance in front of an audience of over 400 people at our end-of-year concerts. For the last two years, we’ve run a scholarship program, sponsored by One Agency Lindy Harris, for students who might not have the same opportunities as others but who put in lots of effort and are always present. It's good to have scholarships to make sure that everybody gets an equal opportunity to dance. It’s good for those students’ confidence to win awards like that. They know that they’re noticed, and you see how far they come. They really come out of their shell.
Another big one for us is respect. We want the children to feel respected, but we also want the children to learn respect.
The kids get to meet new friends. They get to socialise while they’re learning new skills, keeping active and keeping fit.
One of our assistant teachers has just finished year 12 and he's been accepted into NIDA. That's pretty cool, although I don't know how much credit we can take for that! Our competition teams have really taken off in the last two years. Every one of our competition students really upped their game this year in particular.
We've got our first audition-only program starting next year. The successful students will be working with industry professionals. That's now where we're putting our focus, into programs to help build performers and dancers of the future, while still keeping our recreational side. We've got something for everyone.
Yes, I'm the community engagement and media coordinator for the Singleton SES. My role over the last 12 months has changed shape because I've got a baby. Between the business and the baby, it’s a bit harder to get to training every Wednesday night. Thankfully, the service is really good with flexible volunteering. Because my roles don't require me to know how to use a chainsaw, I can do my bit at other times. It's a great service to be a part of.
I started in 2015. A couple of my friends joined, and I said I’d come along too. I was there for about eight months before they asked me if I’d be interested in doing the media and community engagement role. And I'm glad they did because it's much better suited to me than the hands-on stuff. Although in saying that, I have done my storm course, and I have used chainsaws, so I can do it all! But I'm much more of an asset behind a computer or on the phone than out in the field. The service is really good in that regard - there are literally roles for anybody. That's why I started doing my communications degree because I was really enjoying the things that I was doing with the SES.
One of my biggest achievements with the SES is starting the Singleton Emergency Services Expo. It's all about knowing who to call for what and what you can do to prevent emergencies. It’s a really good event.
Try to get a full night’s sleep! I went back to dancing myself this year, as well as teaching classes. Even though it’s my job, I still dance to relax. My partner and I like to hang out with our friends. We're lucky to have some nice vineyards on our doorstep, and we spend some time out in the Pokolbin area. We like eating and we don’t mind a wine or two sometimes as well.
Well, you’re living in the right place! Thanks for the chat, Simone.
Find out more about Blu’s School of Dance at their website.