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Up and running . . . DEVOS dance studio owner Anna Stuart teach es a class in Oamaru. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Anna Stuart never thought a decision at the age of 8 would change her life.

That was when the now Oamaru-based teacher started dance and fell in love with the creativity through ballet, jazz and contemporary.

At 12 years old she won a scholarship to train at the New Zealand School of Ballet and two years later, she passed her solo seal tap exam.

She taught while she was at high school in Blenheim, and then she stopped – for 20 years.

“I was never going to be a professional dancer,” Mrs Stuart said.

“I taught quite a lot while I was at high school … I felt like I’d tried it, but it wasn’t my calling.”

Instead, she went to university, trained as a computer scientist, travelled overseas and relocated to Queenstown in 2003.

While Mrs Stuart was setting up Queenstown’s Les Mills gym, word spread that she was a trained dancer and, before long, she was asked to choreograph shows.

She opened her first studio in 2004, and choreographed show after show, including Queenstown Winter Festival, Rock to Wellington and the Queenstown Christmas Show.

Years later, she opened DEVOS studio, teaching about 400 pupils aged 3 to 18.

Two years ago, her family relocated to Oamaru, but she continued to travel to Queenstown four days a week.

However, this year she was without a physical Queenstown studio.

Teaching in Oamaru had not been on her agenda, but she changed her mind.

“I had a few people say it seems stupid to be in a town and not share your expertise.”

She started offering classes in Oamaru, using halls as teaching spaces, in term three of the school year.

Happy group . . . Oamaru dancers jump for joy about having Anna Stuart starting up her dance classes in the town. (From left) Talia Familton (11), Maddy Munro (10), Alizae Tillard (10), Gracie O?Sullivan (10), Ruby Turner (10) and Ruby Drummond (11). PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

About 35 primary and intermediate pupils took part in her recreational classes.

“It’s really great to be able to do something in this town time now.”

Oamaru also gave her the opportunity to broaden her studio to offer classes for adults had not catered for in Queenstown.

Adult classes were a “dance flow” style, incorporating choreography and open floor for beginners and advanced dancers.

“I’m very passionate about it.

“I really love to dance myself. It’s an opportunity for me to dance and I love seeing adults find themselves and learn something new about themselves special, and you can help them find some self-confidence.”

There were also pre-school classes for the younger generation and she was proud to be able to offer a wide range of classes in Oamaru.

Creating was her passion, through dance and art.

“I just love creating – wearable arts, I’m a fire performer and pyrotechnic and I just love the whole creating stuff.

“I would love to get more involved in the festivals .. I think there’s more opportunities to create here [Oamaru].”