As a high school student Harriet Norman (Harington 2010-12) had extra lessons at lunchtime to perfect her dancing. Now, some years later, the primary teacher is returning to St Paul’s – this time as the Head Teacher at the school’s new dance school.
Harriet, 26, is an accomplished dancer, having reached the highest level in New Zealand for different styles of dance – Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz.
Now, the former Leamington Primary teacher will bring her own talent and passion for dance to a new generation.
St Paul’s Dance Studio, located at St Paul’s Collegiate School, is offering Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop for children aged 4-18.
Classes will take place in St Barnabas’ Annex, a light-filled space with a sprung floor, attached to the St Paul’s chapel. The dance school is now accepting enrolments for classes starting in Term 1, 2021.
It is a return for Harriet (nee Embling) who herself attended St Paul’s Collegiate School before training as a primary teacher at the University of Waikato.
Harriet then moved to Melbourne where she was a top ballroom dancer. That took her all over the world, mainly throughout Australia and Asia, and to Blackpool in England where the world championships are held.
Dancing has been such a big part of her life and there are so many positives, she says.
Harriet’s personal philosophy is about building relationships, in an authentic and kind environment.
“I have a relationship-based teaching style which is focused on teaching discipline and getting to know students through genuine connections and caring about each individual.”
“I think it is really important to create an environment and a culture where people can feel safe to give things a go and take risks to do something new that may be out of their comfort zone.”
She has a calm nature and brings that to her teaching practice.
“As the head teacher, you are responsible for creating that culture where all those students have that ethic of care for each other and support each other.”
For someone who went on to develop a great love of dancing, even Harriet had a rocky start.
“I was very, very shy and went along and sat on mum’s knee crying the whole first term,” recalls Harriet.
Things improved, but very slowly.
“In the fourth term the ballet show came up. I was going to be a Teletubby and mum said if I did go on the stage then she would buy me a new pair of ballet shoes.”
She did, “and they had to pull me off the stage.”
Harriet went on to have a distinguished dance career, achieving a remarkable distinction grade for all 29 exams across three styles, ballet, jazz and contemporary as well as 6 scholarships. She competed in many competitions and won the New Zealand Open Championship for both ballroom and new vogue dancing.
Harriet was selected to be a Junior Associate with the New Zealand School of Dance as a Contemporary major and continued to train in this programme for four years. She also received PACANZ Nomination for Classical Ballet and a Royal Academy of Dance 14+ Scholarship.
She would do additional extension classes in dance, often travelling to Auckland and Wellington. Instead of moving to Wellington to study dance full-time, Harriet pursued a teaching path, completing a Bachelor of Teaching at Waikato University.
The St Paul’s Dance Studio will offer NZAMD exams for students, as well as competitions and an end of year show.
There will be a focus on performance, “whether that be competitions, troop dancing or
individual, and I would love to do things around the community too like flash mobs.”
At the studio she would also like to offer ‘date night’ dance classes.
“I want to attract people who have danced before and want to keep moving but also offer something to those who may have never danced before.”
The studio will be open for classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 3.45pm-9pm; and Saturday mornings.
An open day will be held on Saturday 23 January from 10-2pm and Tuesday 26 January from 2-5pm.
For more information visit stpaulsdancestudio.co.nz or contact Harriet on: firstname.lastname@example.org