REGIONAL HEROES: Hunter Urban Dance Studio
Hunter Urban Dance Studio
Mining and dancing are a natural fit for this teacher in Singleton, NSW.
For Skye Vickers, Principal of Hunter Urban Dance Studio in Singleton, NSW, dance and mining go hand in hand. With undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in science alongside her dance qualifications (Cert IV Dance Teaching and Management and Cert IV in Training and Assessment, Progressing Ballet Technique), they are a natural fit. She explains: “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to juggle work as an explosives scientist and now as an environmental and community officer in mining with studying, having my own four children and running the studio.”
Vickers danced all through her childhood and teen years and when the opportunity came along to assist with the younger classes at her studio, “I knew I wanted to potentially be a dance teacher one day”. Her plans took a little while to come to fruition with her university studies taking precedence, but in 2011 Hunter Urban Dance Studio was established with 25 students in a local church hall.
Over the past 12 years, the school has grown to 185 students. “I’m pretty proud of the studio and community we’ve built, especially for a small and very transient army and mining town”. The school has outgrown the church hall, moving into its own commercial space and studios in 2019. With students of all ages, from toddlers to adults, classes include classical ballet and jazz in the Australian Dance Vision and Glen Wood Tap syllabi. She also has competitive teams in jazz, lyrical/contemporary, hip hop, pom and cheer. Classes are also offered in musical theatre, acrobatics, cirque and cheerleading and there is an all-abilities class called Dream Dance Krew.
For Vickers, a typical day might see her up at 5am, packing her kids’ lunches and getting ready to head to work, previously in the laboratory and now at the coal mine. After school she takes her kids to their post-school activities and checks in with other teachers and staff at her school before jumping in to teach her own classes or to help others. She teaches a range of classes across the week, including Ready Set Dance and Little Monkeys classes for preschoolers through to the senior’s classes in all styles. On weekends “I’m either teaching or heading off to watch our students perform at a competition or event or simply having some down time at home with my gorgeous family”.
When asked how she manages it all, she says, “I have an amazing support system. My husband and family have always supported me to keep going, even when times are tough. I also have a supportive workplace and I have been lucky enough to build an amazing team of staff who are really passionate about what they do as well.”
The school has many opportunities to build relationships in Singleton, including performing for the local council’s annual Christmas concert and in other community events, school fetes, helping with choreography for the local theatre company and facilitating holiday programs for children. “We love being able to give back to our community and spread some joy.”
One of the best things about her job, Vickers says, is working with students to set a goal for themselves, make a plan, work hard and then achieve their objective. She says her role is to “to support and empower others to be the best version of themselves”. She is very proud of all her students’ achievements: “There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing a student overcome a challenge and seeing their confidence build and their spirits soar”.
The school has achieved excellent results in dance assessments and a number of students have successfully auditioned for full time performing arts programs. There are also representative teams competing across the other side of the world. But for Vickers, it is also sometimes the small stuff that is equally deserving. “We ensure that we truly see every student and celebrate their achievements on a daily basis.”
With the end-of-year concert the highlight of the year, Vickers says she is again looking forward to seeing all her students up on stage (as well as having a ball backstage) doing what they love.
Only one other event competes in popularity with the concert on the school’s calendar, and that is the annual Princess High Tea. “Some of our younger students are even more excited to be princesses for the day than taking part in the concert.”
It is clear that Vickers and her “amazing team of dedicated teachers and staff at Hunter Urban Dance Studio” have a positive impact in their regional community. As one parent says: “This dance studio has grown natural champion dancers; is involved in community events and performances; raises money for charity and offers quality cheer and dance tuition within our community. It is a wonderful family to be a part of and my children are very lucky to have the studio.”
- MICHELLE DURSUN
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