Regional Hero: Industry Studios
Positivity, nurturing and fun are the values that drive Kristy Monk as the Artistic Director and Founder of Industry Studios in Warragul, Victoria.
The school is about a 90-minute drive south-east of Melbourne. For Monk, establishing the school in 2018 was all about creating an environment that was focussed on positive learning experiences for students.
Industry Studios offers classes in the Southern Federation of Dance syllabus as well as hip hop, pointe, aerial artistry, lyrical and drama and singing. Students number more than 200 and range in age from two to sixty. While engagement, fun and inclusivity are all values that are celebrated within the school, over the years a number of senior students have gone on to study full-time at schools such as Ministry of Dance and Transit Dance in Melbourne.
For Monk, the establishment of Industry Studios was her way of giving back and sharing the love of dance with her community. She grew up in Warragul, studying at Carol’s Academy of Dance from the age of five before moving on to full-time study at Bartuccio’s School of Dance in Melbourne. Monk combined a successful dance career with dance teaching in Victoria and Queensland before returning to Warragul in 2010.
The ethos at Industry Studios is all about “offering a nurturing approach to teaching and student development”. The school has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying that creates a safe space for dancers. This safe space has been recognised within the local community, with Industry Studios recently winning the Best Sporting Club Award in Gippsland. Monk says it was lovely to receive the community’s “acknowledgement of the fantastic space that we have created”. She adds, “We know our culture is magic and our wider community has seen this time and time again. We practice what we preach”.
A normal week for Monk involves teaching a range of classes plus her competition teams. She choreographs the solos, duo and troupe dances. While some students do attend competitions, recently she has switched to taking up more performance opportunities within the town. She stages four concerts a year, which gives dancers the chance to perform without the pressure and stress of a competitive environment. “The buzz of our concerts is incredible. The students have the most amazing time backstage with each other and the parents really enjoy watching their children shine up there on the stage.” Students also perform at retirement villages and aged care homes.
The esteem in which Monk and her team are held within the community is evident. Parents are full of praise. “Monk and her staff not only provide a sensational dance experience to our children,” says one. “they give them a safe space to be free from judgement and negativity. Our kids are valued, they have a purpose and they are all loved equally.”
And the students? “It’s not all about winning,” one says, “it is about being challenged and learning to work towards a goal. The focus is on empowering students to develop self-confidence and self-esteem.” Monk says her goal is to “Ignite the spark in students for dance and performing arts and to make sure that the spark stays lit and grows stronger, inspiring each student through their dance journey with us.”
- MICHELLE DURSUN
Regional Heroes is proudly sponsored by One Music Australia: licensing the dance community for the music they love.