PHOTOS: Bundaberg Festival of Dance turns 40
"WE HAVE people from everywhere: Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Emerald, Dysart.
"It's just a wonderful family eisteddfod; backstage everyone is nice to each other, it's totally not the 'dance moms' phenomena.”
This week the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre is packed with hundreds of young competitors in the 40th Bundaberg Festival of Dance - and many make friends for life, Bundaberg Combined Ballet Association president Cathie Robinson said.
"The kids get the wonderful confidence of being on the stage, you see their little eyes lighting up,” Ms Robinson said.
"We see them grow, and they make lifelong friends - who they only see once a year and they're best friends for a week - and it continues until they're grown up and they might end up at a dance school together or flatting together for uni in Brisbane.”
Mackay's Lara Pinkard said the Bundaberg festival was "better than the one at home...and because we're not from here, everyone is really friendly and it's all just good fun.”
Peta Jacobsen and Katie Griffiths grew up dancing together at Dianne McLellan Dancers in Bundaberg and now both of them have their own dance studios - Ms Jacobsen is the principal at the Bundaberg Dance Academy, while Ms Griffiths brings her students back to every year from Dysart's CQ Dance Academy.
Both agreed the competitions carried plenty of pressure - but it was all part of a rewarding job.
"Giving kids belief in themselves is a really cool feeling,” Ms Jacobsen said.
"It's awesome - everyone feeds off each other, it's really positive; all the kids get along.”
Organisers were nervous ahead of last week's weather but they pressed on.
"We couldn't do it without the volunteers - we are a voluntary organisation,” Ms Robinson said.