07 Feb Dancer adds new twist to Nayland performing arts 

Fresh-to-Nayland dance teacher Anna Willows once had a professional career as a ballet dancer in a touring company. 

Her job took her around her native UK and to Europe and America.   Looking back on this time of her life, she describes it as “pretty surreal, pretty epic.” 

Ms Willows hadn’t enjoyed school much and leaped at the opportunity to do what she loved – all day, every day – at just 15 years old. She combined dancing and performing with teaching and choreographing ballet, jazz and contemporary styles.

Eventually though, her body gave her “no choice” and Ms Willows had to make the full transition from performing to teaching. She says that after a run of injuries and becoming a parent to her three sons, it was all about working out the answer to the question ‘how can I carry on doing what I love doing?’

Since arriving in New Zealand 17 years ago, Ms Willows has kept up her love of performance art by teaching drama in Christchurch and performing in summer Shakespeare and other productions.  She even landed the coveted roles of Lady Macbeth and Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew.

Ms Willows’ decision to become a secondary school teacher meant completing her degree at Canterbury University and  attending Teachers’ College in Christchurch.  She then set up a dance department at a Christchurch school and taught there for a number of years.

Ms Willows gets frustrated by those who underrate dance as a subject at school. “People think you just kind of prance around and do interpretive dance and look pretty,” she said. “It teaches students so much more than that. It teaches them how to work as a team, (…) communication skills, (…) how to think outside the box and problem-solve. It teaches them to really analyse and think deeply about what it is they want to get across. There’s a lot more theory and thinking involved than just floating about the stage in a nice dress!”

Ms Willows is a self-confessed “animal freak”. She has three cats and two dogs who she has relocated to her new home in Motueka.  She is getting used to her daily commute and looking forward to settling into Nayland College.

By Sera King – Media & Publicity

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