Life­long love of teach­ing bal­let

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

An early ex­pe­ri­ence with snobby bal­leri­nas con­vinced Deb­o­rah Hale her ca­reer needed to cel­e­brate every­body’s tal­ent.

Whitby res­i­dent Hale, 57, is cel­e­brat­ing 40 years as a dance teacher.

She was 17 when she took over her stu­dio from Valerie Scan­lon, her own dance teacher.

The Deb­o­rah Hale School of Dance started un­der the Canopies but now serves 60 pupils at Pataka as Dance Plus Per­for­mance Stu­dio.

She is also a dance ex­am­iner and serves on the New Zealand As­so­ci­a­tion of Mod­ern Dance ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

When Hale was 12, her par­ents scraped to­gether the money to send her to a sum­mer bal­let school. The ex­pe­ri­ence con­vinced her she wanted to be a teacher, not a dancer.

‘‘I found the bal­let dancers not nice to the younger gen­er­a­tion, and snobby, and thought, ‘I don’t want to be like that. I want to sup­port and em­brace ev­ery­one’s tal­ent, whether they’re good or bad,’’’ she said.

Chil­dren gained con­fi­dence and goalset­ting skills from dance, and it was not

their nec­es­sary for chil­dren to be great dancers to profit, Hale said.

In fact, of­ten the more de­ter­mined stu­dents found suc­cess more eas­ily than the nat­u­rally ta­lented, she said.

‘‘Some par­ents think you have to be good at it. You just have to love it.’’

One of Hale’s most suc­cess­ful pro­tegees is Re­becca Suther­land, who now col­lab­o­rates with lyri­cist Tim Rice in Lon­don’s West End.

‘‘She’s amaz­ing. I’m so proud of her, but I’m proud of all of them,’’ she said.

Sharn Te Pou and Jared Pallesen are also suc­cess­ful for­mer stu­dents, as is Hale’s son Lan­den, 18. At 11 he earned a two-year run as Billy El­liot in Mel­bourne.

All Hale’s chil­dren – Lan­den, Joel, 31, and Al­lie, 22 – de­vel­oped in­de­pen­dence early on, cook­ing din­ner for them­selves while their mother taught late into the evening.

The fam­ily of­ten danced in lo­cal pro­duc­tions or at com­mu­nity events, Hale said.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of fun over the years, per­form­ing for the com­mu­nity.’’

She said that over 40 years chil­dren had be­come more as­sertive about their lessons, and that in 1973 they pretty well did what they were told.

‘‘The pretty dress was enough,’’ Hale said.

‘‘Th­ese days ev­ery­one makes chil­dren think a lot more.

‘‘ You’ve got to cap­ture pas­sion first of all.’’

Hale watches TV to make sure she keeps up with the lat­est dance styles and hip-hop moves. ‘‘You’ve got to keep up to date.’’ The tough­est year of her ca­reer was 2003, when she was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer.

She said she re­mem­bered hav­ing to teach a jazz class right af­ter a chemo­ther­apy ses­sion.

‘‘You have to keep your busi­ness go­ing, that’s life.’’

Now can­cer- free, she said the ex­pe­ri­ence gave her a new lease on life.

‘‘It wakes you up. I feel very lucky to have sur­vived it.’’

Beau­ti­ful Dreamer, Dance Plus Per­for­mance Stu­dio’s end- of- year pro­duc­tion, Pop-Up Porirua Lit­tle The­atre, 4 Lyd­ney Place, De­cem­ber 6, 7pm; De­cem­ber 7 and De­cem­ber 8, 3pm. Adults $20, chil­dren $15. Tick­ets at the door or con­tact 021 216 7195.

Kapi-Mana News has a dou­ble pass to give away for the De­cem­ber 6 night show. Email ed­i­tor@kmananews.co.nz by 5pm Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 4 with ‘‘Hale’’ in the mes­sage line.

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Many mem­o­ries: Deb­o­rah Hale, who is cel­e­brat­ing four decades of teach­ing dance in Porirua. pic­tured with her pupils Lyla Suter, 5, left, Corri Katene, 4, and Tam­sin Smith, 4.

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