Castlemaine’s long-running hip-hop dance school Movement Zone is celebrating 20 years of dance with a special event at the Theatre Royal on Saturday August 3.
Dancers past and present, parents and supporters are encouraged to get along to ‘Ready, Set, Glow’.
The school’s humble beginnings began in Melbourne in 1999.
It was co-founded by renowned local dancer instructor and youth advocate Sarah Cook and friend and fellow dancer Yvonne.
“Many people don’t know this about me but my background was classical and contemporary dance,” Sarah said.
“I studied ballet, jazz, a bit of funk and tap and was later a principal dancer at the Victorian College of the Arts.”
A car accident towards the end of her studies sadly meant Sarah was unable to continue on her path as a professional dancer.
“I approached Yvonne about the idea of starting a dance school and it just took off from there,” she said.
“A year in, Yvonne started a family and decided to step back. I kept the school going and when I moved back home to Castlemaine at 25 I opened the school here at the Presbyterian Church Hall.
“On my return I met fellow dancer Dion Brownfield and we hit it off. He introduced breakdance to the school.
“In the beginning we had about 30 dancers and at its height we catered to around 130 dancers in Castlemaine, Kyneton and Bendigo.”
Sarah said that at Movement Zone the whole emphasis was on dancers not being perfect, but just allowing kids to be kids and bringing out the joy in them.
“They don’t need to have perfect hair or be the perfect height or weight,” she said.
“They are encouraged to just be themselves. At our concerts every dancer has a solo, everyone has the same opportunities.
“As you see the dancers learn and develop you see a big confidence boost. It’s extremely rewarding.”
The passionate youth advocate was also involved in the formation of local youth organisation Xtreme Inc which also celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019.
“It’s amazing how the two groups have helped shaped the local community and open up the opportunities available to young people. I’m extremely proud,” Sarah said.
Sarah took a break teaching dance in the Kimberleys for three years, and has taught dance at Girton and Bendigo Senior Secondary. She also worked for Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges Shires as a youth worker, before fulfilling her dream and opening a purpose-built studio for Movement Zone in Campbell Street.
She is now thrilled to see her two children Lewis and Poppi enjoying dance at the studio.
More recently the dance instructor has started working with older adults as part of dance therapy classes.
“We have dancers from four through to 80,” she said.
“I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis and fibromyalgia in 2009, which affects my spine, so I really know what it’s like to battle with your health and fitness and I aim to get my dancers up and moving and enjoying themselves.
“Their half-time performance in the recent MainFM Kick-Off match was a real celebration and a testament to all they have achieved. Dance really is for everyone.”
Ready, Set, Glow will kick off with a junior celebration from 6pm to 7.30pm and then follow with a party for the adults from 7.30pm where children Under 18, must be surprised by an adult.
Entry is just $20 and includes a free photobooth, wood-fired pizza, DJs, special guests and dance comps.
“We would love to see everyone who has been involved in the journey come along and help us celebrate this special milestone,” Sarah said.
For tickets visit movementzonedance.com