When the children from Melvin’s Dance Studio step into the hall where they hone their dancing skills, all their challenges faced daily in a community like Bonteheuwel, fade away.
It has only been two years since Melvin Wiener started working with this group of 35 dancers, but they are already raking in the trophies.
Mr Wiener has been in the dance business for many years, however. Their talent and his strict coaching style, have certainly paid off for these young dancers between the ages of 6 and 17. Mr Wiener also teaches adult social dancers as well.
When the Athlone News visited the dance studio at Janet Bourhill Institute, the group was fervently practising towards the upcoming Provincial Administration Board’s Latin and ballroom competition, which was held in Belhar.
Their great aim, however, is to take part in the South African championship, which will be held in Durban in December. Before this, they also have a competition coming up in Beaufort West in September.
The challenge for this group, is that all the children are underprivileged, and costumes, travel and accommodation costs, is something many of their parents cannot afford. One of the parents, Nadeem Parker, said being involved with the dance studio not only keeps the children safe and away from negative influences, but it also brings out their natural talent.
“Ballroom dance is an expensive sport. Luckily Melvin does not charge much. We only pay R50 a month. The problem is the clothes, transport, food and accommodation when we take part in competitions. It is tough raising funds in Bonteheuwel.
We have tried it before and were unsuccessful. This is a beautiful sport, but we don’t have money to hire a bigger hall, like the civic centre.
The group is growing day by day, and we need a bigger space for practise. Since they started, I have seen so many positive changes in the children. My daughter started off walking like a penguin, and now she is doing so well,” Ms Parker said.
Mr Wiener, a three-time Western Province champion, said he chose to teach in the area where he is from. “I started when I was a youngster many years ago. I turned professional in 1982 with many successes after that – winning many major competitions all over the country. I teach from Monday to Thursday and every alternative Saturday. We have a lot of less fortunate children and parents who are struggling to keep them in the dance school. We have been looking for sponsors for a number of years now, but to no avail. My children are so passionate and they love what they do,” Mr Wiener said.
Mr Wiener is assisted by coach Cashe Herman, who, according to Ms Parker, are doing a “marvelous job”.
She added that the parents of the dancers are all involved and live out the “my child is your child” motto.
For more information about the dance studio, call 076 136 6294.