Caileigh Toupin, 15, of Suffolk Park, was told she couldn't dance by adjudicator Desley Munroe after her performance performed
Caileigh Toupin, 15, of Suffolk Park, was told she couldn't dance by adjudicator Desley Munroe after her performance performed

'You look like pole dancers'

By RACHEL AFFLICK

SO you think you can dance? Sorry, I don't think so.

That's how dance teacher Desley Munroe broke the heart of 15-year-old dance student Caileigh Toupin at the weekend.

Ms Munroe who was the judge at this year's North Coast Dance Festival at Byron Bay High School on Saturday and Sunday, also told other 13, 14 and 15-year-old girls in the festival they were acting like pole dancers and strippers.

The Gold Coast teacher's cutting remarks outraged parents and left several young dancers in tears. Family and friends of dancers in the festival, booed Ms Munroe after she told them they weren't allowed to cheer during performances, because it was disruptive. She accused the the audience of acting like 'football hooligans'.

When contacted by The Northern Star yesterday Ms Munroe was unapologetic. She said her comments were actually watered down versions of what she really thought.

Ms Munroe, who holds the Solo Seal highest qualification in ballet, said the world of professional dance was tough and at age 15, students should be reaching their peak. But some of the girls in the eisteddfod would qualify 'as pole dancers or strippers' only, she said.

"Do you want a 13, 14 and 15-year-old to look like a little tart? If it were my daughter I wouldn't," she said.

Caileigh, who spent over a month choreographing her own routine, said she had been shocked by the harshness of Ms Munroe's comments. She said it wouldn't stop her dancing hip-hop, but some of the other girls had been in tears over their%assessments.

Her mother Kaz Toupin was furious. "It sounds like a comment from Australian Idol, but that's in an adult world. This is a competition for children," Ms Topin said.

But Ms Munroe, who has adjudicated for over 20 years, said it was 'quite common for people to be upset because they wanted their kids to win'.

Vision Dance Studio director Jill Wehner said even if Ms Munroe didn't like it, modern hip-hop dance was here to stay. "We hopefully would like to get a younger, fresher adjudicator next year," she said.

Mullumbimby dance teacher Sue Whiteman said although Ms Munroe's comments were harsh, she had a difficult job.

North Coast Dance Festival president Val Steward said every year a different adjudicator was chosen to attend the event.

"She got a little bit harsh, but I think she felt she was only helping the children," Ms Steward said.



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