A Levin dance school will soon say goodbye to two dancers who have been part of the academy since they were toddlers, as they arabesque their way to bigger things.

Shavaun Tohill, 17, and Alina Croad, 18, have been dancing at the Catherine Inger School of Dance for as long as they can remember.

The dance school, which recently celebrated 30 years of dancing, is run by Cathy Croad who said the academy took pride in young dancers continuing their love of the art.

Tohill has been dancing since she was three at the academy and later this month begins full-time study in Wellington at Te Auaha Institute of Creativity for a Bachelor of Arts in the Performing Arts.

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Being accepted after a searching audition phase that involved numerous dances in front of a panel was another step for Tohill as she chased the dream of one day being a professional dancer.

Shavaun Tohill in flight.
Shavaun Tohill in flight.

"It's a very competitive industry - it can be cut-throat - but this is a chance to study what I love and pursue my passion," she said.

Croad was thrilled for Tohill, who has two younger sisters who were also promising young dancers at the academy.

"It's the sort of talent you have to pursue when you are young," she said. "What could be better than dancing for a career."

Tohill has compiled an impressive collection of newspapers clippings and ribbons and awards throughout her career so far, and dancing has already taken her to many countries, including the United States and Australia.

Cathy Croad with daughter Alina (left) and Shavaun Tohill.
Cathy Croad with daughter Alina (left) and Shavaun Tohill.

Dancers who had come through the academy have gone on to gain full-time employment with dance troupes like Disney, or on cruise ship dance shows.

Alina, too, was an accomplished dancer, although she will be studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University and dancing when she could.

Both dancers had scored highly in recent dance exams, with Tohill's marks of 97 per cent for ballet and 97 per cent for jazz, gaining scholarships for International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) Jazz and Ballet and NZAMD Contemporary.

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Alina earned a scholarship in IDTA Tap, while Keearndra Tohill, Shavaun's younger sister, won one for IDTA Jazz.

Waiopehu College Year 13 student Shavaun Tohill with the impressive array of dance awards and trophies achieved throughout her dance career to date. WGP 20Feb19 - Waiopehu College Year 13 student
Waiopehu College Year 13 student Shavaun Tohill with the impressive array of dance awards and trophies achieved throughout her dance career to date. WGP 20Feb19 - Waiopehu College Year 13 student

Catherine's mother Inger Perkins opened the academy in 1989 at Hadfield Hall in Ōtaki. When Perkins needed back surgery in 1991, her daughter arrived from England to keep it going while she recovered.

But Catherine met and married a New Zealander and stayed on.

In 1995 the academy expanded to Levin and for a time ran two studios, although when Catherine's mother moved to Norway in 1999, the Ōtaki academy closed.

Over the years the academy has moved camp a few times, first dancing in an old Masonic Hall where The Warehouse building now stands. Then came a move to Reeve Street, then Bruce Road, and then to its current base in Power Street.

"Each time my father did all the renovations to each building so it's definitely a family orientated business," Catherine said.

"Dance has changed considerably over those many years and I'm sure it will continue to evolve.

"The young generation of today will make their own mark on dance and it will be exciting to see where it goes next."

A new term for the academy is due to start soon.