Dancer’s Fringe benefit

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Dance is a way for Hannah Neilsen to express herself in a mode she loves.
Camera IconDance is a way for Hannah Neilsen to express herself in a mode she loves. Credit: Tari Jeffers

The freedom to express herself and have fun are just some of the reasons Hannah Neilsen loves to dance.

Hannah took up dancing as a child at about seven years of age at a family-run studio in Perth.

“I did so many of the different varieties until I was about 17,” she said.

“I think tap’s got to be my favourite.

“I love jazz, but more cabaret style, more old-school.”

Hannah said one of the reasons she loved dance so much was because she was a mover, who could not stop.

“I’ve loved the social aspect too, but dance just made me feel good about myself,” she said.

“It’s good exercise too and I love the people I dance with, the teachers were amazing.

“I just want to bring that to the kids of this generation now.”

Hannah has brought her love of dance to the wider community as a teacher at Southern Stage Performing Arts.

Having moved to Manjimup only six months ago, Hannah began teaching dance a few weeks later in August last year.

She teaches for young children, right through to adults.

“We do jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, musical theatre, lyrical and contemporary,” she said.

As a dancer, one of Hannah’s fondest memories is when she was placed second in a competition of 35 dancers as a child.

“Every concert was amazing, I loved performing,” she said. “I’ve always said the stage is my home.

“I know that sounds corny, but I’ve always said it and I still agree with it.”

Hannah began teaching dance at only 12 years, when she was asked to fill in and help with classes for children aged two to seven.

In those classes, she taught jazz and tap dancing, and from there, she got asked to teach musical theatre classes, which she did until about aged 16.

On top of all this, Hannah was doing another two hours a week of dance at school, plus extra performances.

“I dance for my life,” she said.

Despite dance being her whole life, Hannah was devastated when she had to give it up when she developed arthritis at 17.

“There’s everything that came with that, like the chronic pain,” she said.

Hannah Neilsen on stage.
Camera IconHannah Neilsen on stage. Credit: NAME

During a time when she said was not doing the best, mentally, and having put on some extra weight and having moved from her childhood home, Hannah discovered burlesque.

“I knew I needed to get out and I found some burlesque classes.”

Burlesque is a style of dance that has its roots back to the mid 1800s and featured a mixture of satire and sensuality.

Through her involvement in burlesque, Hannah also performed at last year’s Fringe World Festival in Perth.

“Burlesque got me out of my shell again,” she said.

“With my body, not being as fit and able as it used to be, it still allows me to perform and dance and everything I love, but at a slower pace. It really is for all age groups over 18.”

Hannah said it was not just about the dance but building confidence in yourself.

Through Southern Stage Performing Arts, Hannah will begin offering social burlesque classes in Manjimup starting this week.

Email southernstage @outlook.com.au for an enrolment pack or for more information.

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