Dance call for Kyogle

1473 828 In Good Company | Northern Rivers

Ascent Dance

St Brigid’s Hall, Wyangarie Street, Kyogle

Visit Kyogle Northern Rivers-01
Dance call for Kyogle 

Starting a dance school just five weeks before the onset of a pandemic might have dampened the spirits of some new business owners, but Haylee Holliday took it as a sign that Ascent Dance Studio had to succeed. 

“I knew there was a need and a drive from the parents and the community. I didn’t want to leave them hanging,” says the CEO and science teacher as she remembers how lockdown impacted her Kyogle dance classes. 

“I tried to reason my way out, but I still felt really called to do it and I knew there was a purpose and passion there.”

It’s that sense of commitment to delivering a high quality, professional service to a regional town that has been her “driving force throughout,” says the Casino resident.

Haylee, 38, has been dancing since she was five years old, but teaching the art wasn’t high on her agenda until she was persuaded to give it a try two decades ago. Fortunately for her many pupils, who range from preschoolers to adults, she kept going, and when Kyogle’s dance school closed in 2019, she stepped into the breach.  

It means juggling dance classes around her primary school teaching schedule, working evenings three nights a week to teach and co-ordinate her studio’s ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap and contemporary offerings like acrodance.

“I tried to reason my way out, but I still felt really called to do it and I knew there was a purpose and passion there”

With an eye for integrating tech into her small business – she was using QR codes long before they exploded in popularity – Haylee soon integrated Zoom classes into her offerings, delivering routine and exercise throughout lockdown. The classes gave her students a semblance of normality and stood her in good stead for the reverberations of 2022’s floods, which tore through the region and saw many of her students’ families involved in the clean-up and recovery effort. Maintaining weekly consistency and throwing a bit of fun into the mix has brought her even closer to her dancers, she says. 

Watching the community pull together has convinced Haylee that she wants to make Kyogle her home, adding to the sense that “people are so invested in Kyogle. They love it and they want to see it grow.” 

The same goes for her work. Haylee buzzes with plans for her business and her Community Performance Class dancers, who learn in a free class she holds for locals, will grace not one but two stages in 2022, performing at the Kyogle Rotary Bazar and the Kyogle Show. 

Her next move is to secure a studio space for Ascent, giving it a permanent home, rather than using a local school hall. 

She is happy to put more roots down in the region that has always been home, especially inspired by its thriving creative culture.

“I grew up in Murwillumbah and I always wanted to move out. Then I travelled around Australia and realised I lived in the most beautiful part of the country,” she says. 

“This area pushes me to do better because I see the high quality and the love of the arts here.”

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