Passion is the driving force of my devotion to Ballet and Dancing.’. Growing up in Gisborne where the ‘Arts’ were very predominant and coming from a family where ballet, music, painting was a way of life. Starting dance lessons at age four and music a few years later my childhood was filled with classwork, exams, competitions, stage work, shows, pantomimes and productions, being involved with entertainment, and when touring companies came to the city was often called on to fill spots and be part of their performances. A highlight was performing in ‘Petrouchka” for the (then) NZ Ballet Company with the famous Alexander Grant dancing the title role. It was a defining moment watching the famous scene of Petrouchka “s solo in his cell. Teaching ballet and dance became the chosen path.
In the years between Gisborne and Tauranga I continued to be involved with stage productions, freelance choreography, teaching and some television work. Moving to Tauranga in 1975 with a young family, setting up a dance school was a priority and I opened the doors on the “Prue Gooch School of Dance” in the Levers Road Hall with 13 pupils. The school grew very quickly and the involvement in the Tauranga community was established. I was a founding member of the very successful “Dance Unlimited’ organization that involved Tauranga Dance teachers, students and their parents. Dance Unlimited staged productions directed by Russell Kerr creating a wonderful and enriching Performing Arts environment benefitting many students of dance and the Tauranga community. Many seminars were also supported by Dance Unlimited.
The ‘Prue Gooch School of Dance’ staged many productions, firstly at the old Town hall and then moved to Baycourt as soon as it was built in 1983. Along with annual examinations and competitions in Tauranga and around the North Island the school‘s calender was always full. Select senior pupils moving onto fulltime training in NZ (NZ School of Dance) and various vocational schools in Australia.
The School moved to new premises in Levers Road and became the DANCE EDUCATION CENTRE in 1990. From here I became involved with ‘Baycourt Productions’ setting the standard in Tauranga for high class Pro/Am shows which also involved the Tauranga community. From ‘High Society’ to ‘Chicago’, ‘Follies’ and ‘Nunsense’ these productions were a huge success. The highlight of that time was in the staging and directing of ‘Giselle’ with Tauranga born Lisa-Maree Cullum , at the time Principal with Berlin Opera Ballet, Europe’s leading ‘Giselle’ and Alexis Dubinin ,Bolshoi star – dancing the role of Albrecht. Danced to full houses and very appreciative audience, that 15 minute ovation on final night, and what a night to remember. Then following the success ‘Coppelia”, ‘Les Sylphides’ and ‘Petrouchka’ of which toured North Island Centres. I was awarded the ‘Tauranga Community Arts Award” and presented with a key to the City of Gisborne and made ‘Sister of the City’.
Completing all teaching exams and granted a Fellowship with the British Ballet Organization (BBO) from London was a defining moment. I ran the NZ Branch of BBO for 14 years building the branch up to a self-supporting entity with annual Concourses and exams that, once again, nurtured Arts in NZ.
During the years there have been many students learning and a number who have travelled from around NZ to take classes and study at DEC. Some have gone on to train at prestigious schools, Royal Ballet School, Australian Ballet School, NZ School of Dance to name a few. Students have also won National Awards, John Logan Campbell Award, NZ National Award, International Awards and from Competitions in Tauranga and in other centres in NZ and Australia. Some students have enjoyed professional careers in the industry. I am proud of each of their successes.
Over many years, to the present day, my motivation for teaching, choreographing and directing has always come from a deep seated passion for ballet and a love for the children that desire it as well. I love sharing my knowledge with the next generation and beyond.