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Saintz Dance Academy: The whānau that's inspiring the next generation of dancers

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd, Communications Coordinator - Museum of Transport and Technology, (MOTAT). Saintz Dance Academy is a Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland based organisation that allows our younger community to explore dance and increase their confidence and happiness, all in one safe space.

Saintz Dance Academy was born out of a love for dance. Previously known as LIL SAINTZ Dance Crew, a group of cousins was under the guidance and direction of their aunty, Becks Tupa’i. They went from performing at family events to competing across the world. 

Based out of Māngere, Saintz Dance Academy is providing a safe space for people to explore their love for dance and receive training. They currently perform across Ta̅maki Makaurau, Auckland, from local community events to large-scale music festivals. 

Saintz Dance Academy Director, Chantelle Huch says, “Becks and her husband Nainz founded the Saintz Up Performing Arts Programme which offered lessons in dance, drama, guitar, vocals, and choir to young people. Their vision was to grow confidence in our young people through the performing arts.

“We saw a huge amount of talent come through the community programme and wanted to find more opportunities for our young ones to explore dance further. From there our Saintz Dance Academy was formed.”

Saintz Dance Academy now has 5 dance crews, with a total of 40 members. Each crew rehearses once a week, and the whole academy meets every week for a Saturday morning
fitness section. Rehearsals become much more frequent when the academy is prepping for a live performance.

Chantelle says, “We treat our dance academy like a family. We are family. We are not just about dance. Dance is merely the vehicle we use to connect, build strong and meaningful relationships, grow confidence, and self-esteem, learn life skills and have fun.”

The academy also has three lead choreographers who help plan the magic that happens on stage. Chantelle Huch, Byron Fa’aui, and Cassidy Makiha all currently share the role.

Chantelle says, “We also draw on the expertise of fellow dancers in our NZ Dance Community to share their knowledge with our academy. The three of us alone don’t know everything about dance.

“It’s important to draw on those in our community who are skilled and knowledgeable in those areas. This also helps our young dancers to build even more connections and relationships with the wider dance community.”

Learning about the culture and history behind the dances the academy performs is an important step for all the crews. Chantelle says, “Every style has a unique culture and story. As choreographers for Saintz Dance Academy, we prioritise learning the culture and history behind these styles so that we can appreciate and acknowledge where they originated from, and ensure they are being performed accordingly.”

As the academy becomes more confident in their learning, they can progress to adding their own ideas and creativity into the dance style. Collaboration is a key part of this process too – the choreographers get feedback from relevant specialist dancers.

Chantelle says that the goal for the Saintz Dance Academy is to see young people thrive, succeed, and be happy in all aspects of their life. 

“We hope that through SDA we can help them on that journey. Saintz Dance Academy wants to continue to find pathways and opportunities for our young people to explore and enjoy dance. Our goal is to provide these opportunities to those of our community who may not usually have access to it.”

The academy is amazed by the level of talent and determination that people from Aotearoa
have. The crews often take inspiration from other innovative and creative dancers in our country. 

“There is so much amazing talent, knowledge, and creativity right here in our backyard. For
a small country, we have been able to achieve so much. We’re also so inspired by our young ones who remind us every day why we do what we do.”

If you want to watch the Saintz Dance Academy perform live, come along to the Big Day of Happy this Saturday, 20 March, from 10am – 4pm. Click here for more info on the event.

Entry to all entertainment and activities is included in your general admission ticket price.

Follow Saintz Dance Academy on Instagram or Facebook to keep up to date on their performances.