Teen tapper’s trio of firsts
Winning three National Champion first place spots in an Australasian dance competition has earned a Timaru teenager a spot in a competition in Orlando, Florida later this year, although the high cost looks set to rule that out.
Timaru Girls’ High School student Sophie Valentine, 14, has been taking tap dancing lessons for about five years.
In Melbourne this month she won the National Champion first place prizes, in the under 14 age group, for slow tap, tap solo and speed tap.
Sophie has picked up six different styles of tap so far, and said learning new styles is just one of the things she loves about dance.
‘‘Competing, learning new dances, getting on stage and performing.’’
The dedicated dancer biked to tutor Kaye Blackham’s studio every day, rehearsing constantly, ahead of the competitions.
‘‘The prep she put in, up here all on her own, practising,’’ Blackham said.
In order for young people to pursue careers in dance it was important for them to have learnt everything, and to be able to perform well, Blackham said.
‘‘You have to learn more than one art form, there’s hundreds of them out there.
‘‘If she can get up and perform all these different art forms, they can throw anything at her, she can pick it up.’’
In addition to tap, Sophie also learns ballet, lyrical dance and contemporary dance.
‘‘I didn’t really know what to expect because it’s a national competition. I knew the competition would be tough,’’ Sophie said.
She hopes to make a career out of dance.
Her mum, Robyn Valentine, said one of the conditions of competing in Melbourne was taking part in a series of hour-long workshops ahead of the competitions, and Sophie tried hip-hop.
‘‘She was quite nervous about the hip-hop. She hadn’t done it before, but she enjoyed it.’’
She said Sophie had wanted to be a dancer since she was ‘‘tiny’’.
Sophie designs all her costumes, and Robyn sews them for her, which helps Sophie stand out, as many other dancers order their costumes from the same catalogue.
Robyn said Sophie would unfortunately not be able to attend the Florida competition due to the cost of travel.