-by Kerrie Alexander
STEP by step, one Hervey Bay dance teacher is trying to make change happen in an industry that is currently unregulated and in dire need of a safety overhaul.
Tina Sparks is a mother, wife, personal trainer, certified dance teacher, mentor, and the owner of Sparks Dance Studio in Urangan, with 170 students currently on the books.
Tina fears for those students who aspire to be part of a professional world of ultra-competitive dancing, where the relentless and dangerous “Insta” culture is booming and the persistent issue of sexualisation and injury is of major concern.
The owner of Sydney school RG Dance, Grant Davies, was charged with 64 sexual assault, grooming and child pornography crimes relating to 10 former students just last year.
Being personally affected by abuse in her own life, Tina found her calling to help guide and assist children and young adults through teaching.
Unlike other popular sports, she said there is no governing body in currently in place to enforce rules and regulations for young dancers in often unsupervised settings.
That is why she has joined forces with Aus Dance Queensland to fight for reform.
“If you are teaching children you shouldn’t have a choice, you should be regulated,” Tina said.
“We are trying to educate them that yes, what you see on instragram is amazing, but it’s just not safe.
“The Royal Commission has brought in a laws in Victoria that now protect children and hopefully Queensland will follow.
“That’s the kind of change I and Aus Dance Queensland are trying to bring to Queensland.”
Starting at home, Tina – who has 20 plus years’ experience as a dance teacher and specialises in positive psychology and ministry training – is using education as a key component of their dance programs.
She said it was imperative to mentor students to choose the best career path, look after their mental health and well-being, and prepare for life after the stage, with most professional careers only spanning from 10-15 years.
“What Sparks is trying to do is create this whole rounded little person.
“We are educating the dancers in how to survive life, being stage ready for life, on stage and off.
“We are working with our students to show them how to be part of a team, how to present themselves at a job interview, how to talk to people and treat others nicely and how to love themselves, and others.”
Tina has an information night for parents in the pipeline to discuss what options their children have after a life on the stage, including undertaking a Certificate IV in dance.
She said pre-Covid 19, there was opportunities to advance dance careers at world theme parks or cruise ship contracts, but most of those options are now gone.
“There’s only a small percent of dancers that go out there and really make it, now with Covid19 there’s a whole other education side to it.
“What happens for the dancer in the current climate? There are good options for dancers available and we are hoping to guide them to those.”
Tina was also recently nominated for the 2020 AusMumpreneur Awards, which celebrates Australian mums in business who are achieving outstanding success in business excellence, product development, customer service and digital innovation.
The award will be announced in October.
To find out more about Tina, her team and the studio, visit http://www.sparksdc.com.au.