DANCE teacher Ben Mayne has experienced some pretty impress- ive career highlights.
He has danced in front of the Queen and next to Sammy Davis Jr and he's been invited to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber as a choreographer for the National Youth Musical Society of London.
He started dancing at the age of four, turned professional at seven and was teaching by the time he was 14.
At 19 he joined the world-famous Tap Dogs Company as a dancer and within two years was the company's assistant choreographer.
This week, he is teaching tap to keen students at Miss Sue's Dance School in Alstonville, giving master classes at the invitation of the principal, "Miss Sue" Whiteman.
"I was in the original cast of Tap Dogs," Mr Mayne said.
Inside, little girls in leotards were putting on their tap shoes in preparation for his class. They'd been there all day, having given up a week of their school holiday for a chance to dance with Ben Mayne, and classical ballerinas Lisa Miles and Janece Graham.
"It was great fun," Mr Mayne said. "After two years in Australia I became assistant choreographer, training up the second Australian cast and then going to England to train an English crew of tap dancers.
"We toured all through the UK, the USA and in Europe - it was fantastic to be able to travel a lot."
Bringing his skills back home, Mr Mayne now is based on the Gold Coast where he teaches tap and contemporary dance to students of all ages. But despite having come from the testosterone-driven Tap Dogs, he's finding a shortage of boys studying dance.
"Numbers of boys are particularly low on the Gold Coast; it's all football and surfing there," he said. "But I'm starting a boys' class this year so I'm hoping things will look up. It was a lot easier for boys when I was growing up - and easier to get a job, too."
But Ben Mayne likes his boys to be boys, as indeed they were in Tap Dogs.
"There's nothing worse than a boy who dances like a girl," he said with a grin.