Hi, my name is Samantha, currently a wife, mother of four, owner and creator of content for Dance Parent 101 and a co-partner in the business my husband runs. We live on the southern coast of eastern Australia in a small seaside town, which sounds quite idyllic except for the fact that the average temperature in summer is only about 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit!
I wrote “currently” earlier because in the more than 40 years I have been on this earth I have been many things. A fulltime dance student and then professional dancer and actor, a dance teacher, a backpacker through Europe whilst working and living in London, a skiier/snowboarder whilst working on the slopes of Whistler Canada, a university student studying dance then later on teaching, a waitress, a sales clerk, an administrator, an office manager, a primary school teacher and now a mother, online business owner as well as a franchise owner with my husband of a Quest hotel. I have lived a very full life and have much experience and knowledge to share.
My Dance Journey…
I started dance classes at the age of 5 at a local dance school in the western suburbs of Melbourne under the guidance of Tracy Morley (who went to work as a performer or assistant choreographer on block buster movies Moulin Rouge, Happy Feet 1 & 2 and Bootmen) and Cynthia Watson nee. Boots (Principal CB Dancers, CSTD Examiner and Adjudicator). I participated in C.S.T.D. dance examinations completing my student teacher certificates in both tap and theatrical dance (ballet, Jazz & Tap). Around the age of 13 I started team and solo competitions when my school started participating in them. At around 14, I had gotten myself an acting agent and was working as an extra on many different Australian movies, shows and adverts and worked fairly regularly as an extra for a while on the Australian Television Soap Opera – Neighbours. At 15 I changed high schools so I could study dance as a school subject and was accepted through my drama audition (not dance nor my study scores funnily enough) as a dance/drama major to Deakin University in Victoria.
After a year of studying creative contemporary dance at university, I realized if I was ever going to follow my dream of being a professional dancer I needed stronger technique training and was accepted into the full time performing arts school in Melbourne, Dance World 301. The school I chose also had a full-time ballet school and therefore I had access to some of the best ballet teaching available and was lucky enough to take a class with the legendary Gelsy Kirkland who commented that I had a lovely port de bras!
I was there for 3 years, rather than the formal two, winning several scholarships for my perseverance and passion. It was during this time that I was also a member of a winning jazz dance troupe, three years in a row at Australia’s largest dance competition ‘The City Of Sydney Dance Eisteddfod’ where we performed on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. Training for this competition was intense and built my stamina and resilience for training in the later professional jobs that I would get.
As a professional dancer I worked in video clips, on television for entertainment shows such as the now-canceled ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’, at the Australian Music Awards (ARIAs), commercially for corporate jobs. I flew the country doing promotional dance work as a backup dancer for Australian Aria award winner Joanne BZ and had the privilege of dancing on one of these tours with Ashley Wallen who would later choreograph the box office hit ‘The Greatest Showman’ starring Hugh Jackman. I most proudly performed in a children’s musical ‘Possum Magic’ By Garry Ginnivan Productions that toured the country playing a season at the Melbourne Arts Centre. Thats me in the Koala suit in the press photo on the left. It was one of the many characters I played in the show!
During most of this time to support myself I also did a lot of smaller out of the box jobs such as playing the role of Bart Simpson in full costume in the heat of summer at a small theme park – the pay and hours were really good! I also taught tap and jazz lessons at various schools in Melbourne, but because of the nature of my professional work, I was unable to keep this up consistently.
My other role was as an administrative and personal assistant at Dance World 301 and for APO Records where I got to work in production for film clips such as this one in the photo for Joanne BZ’s song So Damn Fine filmed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Bali.
Eventually, though I began to burn out. The constant string of no’s and few yes’s started to bring me down as did the voice of fear in my head telling me I needed a backup plan and that dance was never going to support me forever. Two years after meeting my husband in 1999, I decided to follow him to live in London, not to dance but to work and travel. After our two-year work visa ran out we headed to Canada and worked the Whistler ski fields before returning almost a total of three years later, through the USA, home to Australia where I enrolled as a university student in a teaching degree. My degree covered many areas of child development including individual units on teaching dance, music and drama which have added to my wealth of knowledge that I contribute to this site.
But unfortunately, I never danced again.
The two following clips are some little gems I found on Youtube. I danced in the era of VHS and so I have copies of whatever my parents taped at the time sitting in storage waiting for the day I find the time to convert them, so finding these were real throw back in time moments for me! For the first clip I enter around half way through at around 2:10 with the other dancers and am either right or left of the singers. For the second clip I am on the far right for the beginning and centre middle back for the second half.
My Parenting Journey…
This story is much shorter… I am the mother of four children ages 9 through to 1. During my teaching degree and as a teacher, I gained a lot of insight on how children learn and develop. But when my third child was born I came across a pin on Pinterest that led me to the website of Dr. Laura Markham and the peaceful parenting movement, prompting me to participate in her 12 week online parenting course. This led me to find the exceptional Avital from the Parenting Junkie and become a member of her present player group. I then read all about conscious parenting by Dr. Shefali Tsbary – Oprah’s go to parenting expert. I learned about how children’s brains work in a meltdown and about the yes brain and growth mindsets with Dr. Daniel Siegel and how to be a playful parent with Lawrence J. Cohen. Alfie Kohn taught me that loving my kids was never spoiling them and Suzi Lula taught me that in order to be the best mother I could be I needed to look after my own needs first and to prioritize my self-care.
I am not a poster child for peaceful parenting – my four-year-old is begging me to read her a story as I write this and I am dutifully ignoring her as I am in my flow writing this about me page, which I did not start for such a long time due to procrastination and the fear of putting myself out there publicly! – nor am I a chunky, tiger, helicopter or any other kind of parent.
I am just a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a mom trying to find the most loving, abundant and joyful way of expressing and living her life.