Shantelle Tagg: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Dance studio opens doors to music and movement
Shimmy Shakes Dance Studio
Strong. Generous. Amazing
Shantelle Tagg believes no one should be stopped from enjoying the magic of dance because of disabilities or a lack of money.
She operates Shimmy Shakes Dance Studio, which keeps its fees low and welcomes boys and girls who cannot join regular classes.
Her uniquely inclusive classes for under-fives feature teachers using sign language, a high staff-to-student ratio and a low-sensory environment designed for children who would be overwhelmed in conventional studios.
Shimmy Shakes also offers classes for school-aged children with severe to profound disabilities. These are run in a studio with wheelchair access and no ballet barres or distracting dance mirrors.
“We aim to break down barriers for children with challenges,” says Shantelle, a former professional dancer whose oldest daughter has disabilities.
Although the studio has had previous accolades and was named Sutherland Shire’s Inclusive Business of the Year in 2017, Shantelle feels overwhelmed by the recognition of being voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It makes me realise that we are touching the lives of so many families in our local community, which makes me very happy.
“After seeing how much my daughter responded to music and movement, I started Shimmy Shakes to try to bring the love of dance to all children,” says Shantelle.
Her classes use a lot of creative exercises to help the children develop gross motor skills in an enjoyable environment.
They have great fun being creative and doing something that many other kids take for granted.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Shimmy Shakes will use its grant to hire more teachers and provide accredited disability dance training to all staff.
The classes are not only for the children. Their parents appreciate the opportunity to relax, knowing their child is in good hands with staff who can care for all their needs.
“To see the response from parents is astounding,” Shantelle says.
Seeing their children have access to these classes often becomes the highlight of their week.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.