How it all began
Everything starts from a question or idea and for us it was how could we get more kiwi kids active through dance.
Marcela, a dance instructor, and Claire a primary school teacher knew there had to be a better way to make dance fun and interesting for children, that offered the same enthusiasm by kids as platforms like Tik Tok but in a safe and age appropriate way.
So they sketched out a plan that would allow schools to not only challenge each other on the dancefloor but also share a common goal and achievement.
Throw in some amazing dance experts in the form of sisters Molly & Poppy and New Zealand Dance Challenge was born!
There are numerous reasons why dance is important to the health and development of our tamariki. Dance not only gets children active, but is also great for strengthening muscles, improving balance and increasing flexibility.
Dance can also improve cognitive development by increasing memory, ordering and sequencing and can help students develop valuable skills such as creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.
Creating dances also improves students self-esteem which has a flow-on effect on other areas of learning.
In a nutshell… dance is an incredibly important but too often overlooked area of the NZ curriculum.
Marcela started dancing at the age of 7 in her home country of Argentina and from an early age knew that dancing and teaching were her passions. She graduated as a Physical Education teacher and fitness instructor in Argentina and has been teaching dancing and fitness for the last 20 years.
Marcela moved to New Zealand 15 years ago and not long after was teaching Latin American dancing (primarily Salsa) at Salsa Latina Studios in Christchurch.
In that time, she has been performing, competing and choreographing and has achieved various dancing awards including several New Zealand Salsa National titles.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring more dance to New Zealand schools. Dancing is a passion of mine and a great way to have fun, stay fit and have a healthy mind.”
Claire graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning in 2001. She has been teaching in a full-time or part-time capacity for almost 20 years, teaching across different levels and schools around Christchurch and abroad.
Claire loves incorporating The Arts into her classroom programmes and has enjoyed running lunchtime dance groups, choreographing dances for school performances and music dramas. She is delighted that dance is becoming increasingly valued in education and is super excited to bring something so fun and engaging to New Zealand students.
“I can’t wait to see the NZ Dance Challenge in action throughout New Zealand schools. I know I will love running this in my own classroom and know you will too.”
Molly, Dance Expert
Molly has been dancing and performing since the age of 3. In 2014 she played the orphan Kate in the UK touring production of Annie in Wellington, alongside well known actors such as Su Pollard (Hi de Hi) and the late David McAllister (The Bill, Miss Marple and Doctor Who).
Molly dances at Levings Dance Company in Christchurch and has won many international and national titles, including winning the prestigious NZ Top Dancer title in 2017 (Junior) and 2019 (Intermediate). Molly is also an Intermediate Contemporary Associate at the New Zealand School of Dance.
In 2013 Molly was runner-up in the talent search The One for the New Zealand TV show What Now. Molly now has her own segment on What Now ‘Move It With Molly’ which she has been doing for 5 years.
Molly was an invited guest on the TV show Jono and Ben and has danced at Christchurch’s Coca Cola Christmas in the Park for a number of years with her team members from Levings Dance Company.
In December 2020 Molly was a member of the children’s ensemble for the pantomime Cinderella produced by GMG Productions with an all-Kiwi cast.
“I am so excited to be involved in the launch of this new opportunity for New Zealand children to dance at school, as it is one of my main goals to inspire the younger generation to love dance as much as I do.”
Poppy, Dance Expert
Poppy has been dancing since she was 3 and is a competitive dancer at Levings Dance Company in Christchurch.
Poppy has won a number of National and International Dancing Titles which include the Showcase Australia Championship Overall winner Junior Title 2020 and the Showcase Australia Championship Overall Winner Petite Title 2019 on the Gold Coast.
In 2019 Poppy was a Child Performer in Hansel and Gretel for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and last year was cast as a member of the Children’s Ensemble for the pantomime Cinderella at the Theatre Royal in Christchurch, produced by GMG Productions.
Poppy has her own segment alongside her sister Molly on What Now dancing and producing tutorials ranging from dance through to hair styles.
Poppy has appeared in a number of TV advertisements and music videos and was also a child extra in the Margaret Mahy movie The Changeover.
“I am so excited to be involved in these tutorial videos and can’t wait to see everyone dancing at school!”
Quinn, Dance Expert
Quinn is passionate about many things but dance has always been his top. He started dancing with Silhouette Studios NZ as a 7 year old, when he joined their boys development programme. Being surrounded by equally passionate boys at Silhouette and being an inaugural member of NZ Boys Dance Convention has given him a fantastic foundation.
Quinn has proudly performed in Christchurch Christmas in the park multiple times with his Silhouette squad and enjoys every opportunity to dance in front of a crowd.
Quinn represented his school at 2021 Show Quest and was awarded Outstanding Rangatahi.
Quinn’s enthusiasm and expressive style of dancing, inspires the younger generation to know that the love of dance will forever be the most important thing in performing.
“Being part of the NZ Dance Challenge is such a fantastic way to show that dancing is for everyone, I’m excited to create a platform to encourage more dancers around New Zealand.”
Dylan, Dance Expert
Dylan has been dancing since he was six and is a competitive dancer at Silhouette Studios NZ in Christchurch. His favourite genres of dance are Contemporary, Acro and Musical Theatre.
Dylan has performed at the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park in Christchurch several times with his team members from Silhouette Studios. In 2019 he performed with the Silhouette Boys squad on What Now.
In 2020 Dylan won first place in his musical theatre solo at the Evolution Dance Competition Finals in the Gold Coast. Later that year, he performed in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty as a Garland Dancer.
“I’m so excited to be a part of NZ Dance Challenge, and can’t wait to show other kids how much fun dancing is.”