Published on August 26, 2021
Kate Ralph (2005) has been dancing and performing for over 15 years. She successfully runs her own dance studio and in 2019 her hard work and dedication was recognised with the Forbes Business Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise. In 2022, Kate will graduate from the Royal Academy of Dance in London.
Kate shares a little more about her passion for working hard and chasing one’s dreams.
When did you start ballet?
I started dancing when I was three years old and fell in love with ballet after seeing a poster of Darcy Bussell, a soloist in The Royal Ballet. I idolised her when I was younger. She is now the Royal Academy of Dance patron where I studied and fingers crossed, will hand me my degree next year when I graduate in London.
What is your biggest achievement since leaving school?
I completed a double degree in education and fine arts at The University of Newcastle (graduating in 2009) which led to become a secondary visual arts teacher.
I have continued to dance and have taught in many dance studios before opening my own, Elevate Dance Studio.
In 2019, I was a finalist in the Forbes Business Awards for Excellence in Social Enterprise, Startup Superstar and Young Entrepreneur. I won the Excellence in Social Enterprise award and was a finalist at the NSW Business Chambers Regional Business Awards.
In 2015, I studied in London as one of twelve international students accepted into the Royal Academy of Dance and the University of Bath Masters in Education (Dance Teaching) Programme. Hopefully, when things improve with COVID-19, I can go back over in 2022 to graduate. I now teach dance and PDHPE in a secondary school, and I am a distance education dance teacher for Newcastle/Maitland Catholic schools.
What was your social enterprise business award for?
The award was for the services offered to the community in benefiting adults’ active and social lives. I was very shocked to win the category and to go on to be a regional finest. My studio is owned and operated just by me, so the hard work in doing what I love is rewarding.
“Being recognised for contributing to the local community and knowing my clients have as much fun as I do in my classes is the most rewarding experience.”
Have you continued with your interests and passions from school?
Becoming a teacher in art and dance has allowed me to live my passions in my daily life. Combining my interests in dance and fitness to run my own dance studio has been a lifelong dream and accomplishment that brings me so much joy.
I also dance socially for fun (I enjoy Salsa) and continue to create small art and craft projects on the side – which I sometimes sell.
If you could go back in time to school, what would you do differently, and what advice would you give a current student?
I would probably encourage current students to enjoy a balance of social life, their passions and studies.
I was very focused on the creative subjects I studied at school and spent most of my lunchtime working on five major works during the HSC year. But I loved it, so I enjoyed it.
I would tell my younger self to have more of a break and spend more time with my peers.
“Everything worth having comes from hard work, and if you enjoy what you do, you will be more motivated.”
How do you go about juggling studying, teaching and having your own business?
I’ve always kept very busy, even while at school. If you love something, you’re more likely to enjoy what you are doing and make it work for you. I just had to ensure that I planned my schedule well and worked on my time management. It was certainly challenging at times and often involved sacrifices, such as prioritising a university assignment over a social function and staying up a lot later than I should have. It does help that I love what I am doing and had my eye on a goal. Rewards help too – like planning for a holiday.
I have recently moved back to the Newcastle area after living away for nine years. I made this decision as I have worked so hard for so long and recognised that I wanted a work/life balance. It has been the best decision for my personal life, and I am very happy enjoying the beach and more social time!
What’s your advice for people interested in pursuing a career in dance?
There are many different avenues in the dance world.
Finish school because sometimes things happen, like injuries, and you need to change your path. If you have finished school you could go into other similar areas such as physiotherapy or teaching, for example.
If you pursue the performance avenue, always take on feedback positively and practice with your whole heart. You can have beautiful technique, but your heart must be in it too!
“You will face rejection at times, but you need to keep positive and find an alternative path to follow your dream.”
I always wanted to pass on my passion for dance so I started my own studio. It took a very long time, but if you stick with it and have the drive, you can make it happen and you can follow your dreams!