Teen tap­per’s trio of firsts

South Canterbury Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KOREN ALLPRESS

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.

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