Dancing all the way to the top
TWO generations, 45 years of dancing, 25 years of concerts at the Moncrieff Theatre and countless students.
When the TnT Dance Studio dancers hit the stage on Friday night for the second, and final concert of 2017, it will be a significant milestone for Bundaberg's Bates family.
Originally established 45 years ago and known as the Michele and Kevin Bates Dance Studio, the dance school's first annual concert on the Moncrieff stage was held in November 1993.
With a name change to TnT Dance Studio and now under the management of the two Bates daughters, Toinette Walker and Couris Sheppard, the studio has enabled a chorus of local students to hone their dance skill and build their confidence.
Tonight's spectacular performances will mark 25 years of concerts on the Moncrieff stage and for Ms Sheppard the chance to teach dance and be part of the family business was always something she wanted to do.
As a child Ms Sheppard remembers her lounge room was regularly used as a ballroom dance floor, where her parents choreographed routines.
"They did a lot of ballroom dancing when we were young," she said.
"We had a big open lounge where we danced around just like them.
"We trained with mum and with other studios to gain a broader knowledge."
The sisters travelled overseas and interstate and then in 2013 Ms Sheppard said it was a natural progression to take over the studio from her mum.
In doing so she realised her childhood dream.
"In Grade 8 a friend asked me what I wanted to do when I finished high school and I said I wanted to be a dance teacher," she said.
"It's incredible when what you have the desire to be happens...I always wanted to dance."
Given the dance studio has been part of their family for so long, Ms Sheppard said they were now teaching the children of past students and had watched other dancers go on to forge their own dance careers.
"We have a couple of dancers who my mum has taught, I have taught, my sister has taught and now we're teaching they're children," she said.
"We have one particular student, Paris Hillier, she was three when she joined us as a Tiny Tot and she's now 17 and going on to study at Anthony Ikin (Dance Studio) down at the Gold Coast.
"She's danced with us her whole life...this is her passion and she's moving on to make a career of it as well."
Tickets are still available for tonight's TnT Dance Studio concert.
Head to www.moncrieff- bundaberg.com.au for ticketing information.