Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Dancers given a leg up

Rezpect Dance Academy with Grant Kerr, Head of Jetstar New Zealand.
Rezpect Dance Academy with Grant Kerr, Head of Jetstar New Zealand.

Budding hip-hop dancers will be able to unleash their fancy footwork thanks to a funding boost from Jetstar.

The Hastings-based Rezpect Dance Academy is the latest recipient of the airline's Flying Start charity, receiving $15,000 cash and $15,000 worth of flights.

Dance academy founder Olivia Morrell said staff and students were "humbled and blessed" to have been the latest group the airline has chosen to support.

She planned to use the money to give scholarships to 16 dancers who couldn't otherwise afford to keep dancing, and to provide free classes in Hawkes Bay.

"A lot of our students would never be able to dance without our academy as the cost would be too great and the resources too far out of their reach," Morrell said.

She started the dance academy in Hastings six years ago as a way of inspiring and encouraging young people through hip-hop.

"We do what we do because of the passion we have for dance, for the love of the young people we work with."

Each week more than 10 classes and crews cater to about 170 keen dancers.

"For a lot of our students, dance is their anchor, their lifeline and their means of hope," Morrell said. "To them, dance is more than movement. [It] is who they are and many of our dancers would boldly say that without dance they don't know who they would be or how they would handle life."

The $15,000 worth of flights would help students attend competitions in Australia and to send four tutors to Singapore to upskill.

Grant Kerr, Head of Jetstar New Zealand, said the work of the dance academy made it a great recipient for Flying Start support. The $30,000 grant is awarded quarterly.

"It's incredible what Rezpect Dance Academy is doing in the Hawkes Bay community," Kerr said.

- Herald on Sunday

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