The Oamaru Tap Dancing Association marks half a century on Saturday and Sunday, at a dance festival to be held at the Oamaru Opera House. More than 60 dancers are set to perform at the festival, which will also include special performances from a pair of Christchurch-based dance groups, women’s group Molls Dolls and girl’s group Molly’s Dollies. Oamaru Tap Dancing Association secretary Dianne Mills said entries were up this year because of the association’s milestone. “There are 64 entries and they range from Ashburton through to Dunedin in a range of ages from under-6s to 18 years old. We definitely did get more entries, which is really good, because we have been lacking in the past.”
She said that was due to members of other associations, particularly from Christchurch, not travelling to events as they once did. “It’s a travel thing. We find a lot of Christchurch people don’t come down because they have more competitions up there. We used to get quite a few coming down, but when the earthquake hit we noticed a drop.” Today, the association has fewer than 20 children who dance, a number Mrs Mills was keen to see increase. “We are lacking a bit in local children. We have only got about 16. Back in its heyday there was 98 children and that was probably in the 1980s.”
She felt the reason for the rapid decline in numbers was the fact there were only two teachers in Oamaru Mrs Mills and her sister. Mrs Mills was confident the association would eventually be able to lifts its numbers, and encouraged people to come along to its festival or get in touch with her.
“It definitely gives children confidence, if nothing else. I see little ones come in and they are shy, but this definitely builds their confidence to get up in front of people basically and have a lot of fun at the same time.” The festival starts at 8.30am on Saturday and wraps up on Sunday at 3.30pm.
Further information on the festival can be found at the Oamaru Tap Dancing Association’s Facebook page.