As a child I learned creative dance, drama and gymnastics. But it was in my early 20’s that I really fell in love with dance.
Travelling to Ghana, I studied traditional drumming, dance and singing with the Kusun ensemble. The expression of joy and the celebration of life that came through the dance was so infectious that I stayed in West Africa for a year, learning from teachers across 8 countries.
Back in Australia I began performing and teaching, collaborating with dancers and musicians from various genres. I completed a performing arts degree and worked in theatre, comedy, film and television as well as making my own shows and work.
I've presented my work in Vancouver, New York and San Francisco and independently studied hip hop, African, Krump, twerk, bounce, dancehall and Dunham technique, in the United States and here in Australia, as well as traditional dance in Cuba.
Over the years my West African dance classes combined with hip-hop moves to become Afro funk and then a few sexy moves came into the mix to create booty dance classes.
In 2015 I created Dee Street. My intention behind every class I teach is to encourage individual expression and female power through connection to music, movement and community.
My mother describes me as a child who could not help but dance anytime she heard music. Although my family moved frequently throughout my childhood, I always attended ballet and tap classes. Then, when I turned 10 years old, we moved from Australia to Texas.
In high school, I sucessfully auditioned for the dance team and spent every autumn jazz running and high-kicking across football fields. I loved getting glam in my cowgirl outfit and performing in front of crowds. Come winter and spring, I enjoyed competing in lyrical, jazz, and modern dance. In summer we ran dance camps for younger girls and trained for the upcoming season. I really liked the discipline, teamwork, and leaving it “all on the floor.”
Dance was a major love in my life but eventually got pushed aside when I began university and work.
A decade later I returned to Melbourne and reconnected with a part of myself I'd forgotten. I began attending street dance and choreography classes to popular songs in the inner north.
The feeling I got from striking a power pose and bouncing to the beat was cathartic and helped me to relieve anxiety and increase my self-confidence. Before too long I began teaching again. The best part of teaching is seeing people come as they are to express themselves, it really creates magic!
I love that Dee Street is a sisterhood and creates support for women to come as we are and have fun. I‘m so excited to continue to facilitating space for self-love, fun choreography and a sense of community with you. Let’s make some magic!
I was raised at the ballet barre and trained in jazz ballet and contemporary. I absolutely loved the feeling dance gave me - the freedom of movement, feeling the music, and performing and entertaining others. The ballet world is not the kindest so I turned away from dance for many years.
When I finally returned, leaving my anger and body negativity behind, I embraced dance again and remembered why I love to move.
I came to the legendary Melbourne school Bey Dance, which gave me a chance to dance as well as perform, which I love just as much as dance itself! I was privileged to get the chance to teach commercial dance routines there to all levels and help others channel that love.
I’ve been dancing at Dee Street as a student for a year now. I love the styles of dance we do, and that there is a focus on acknowledging the historical roots of the moves and the cultural traditions or struggles they come from. To me, this is so important because we consume music and video that is embedded in those traditions.
I also love the kind approach - kindness towards our bodies, our minds, kindness towards each other, kindness to the earth and to the community we dance in.
There is something so special about the feeling of dancing with like-minded women where we can be entirely ourselves and really shake it, you know?
I can’t wait to show all the Dee Street babes how much I love dance, and that anyone can dance, and what a joy that is! Let’s learn some cool moves, have fun, work up a rejuvenating sweat and feel ourselves!
ALISSIA LA TORRE
As a youngster I dreamed of becoming a sexy back up dancer for Prince and was OBSESSED with Michael Jackson. I was into sport and played for the Zebras, the first girls soccer team for Brunswick.
As an adult I enjoy my roles both in the health and fitness industries and work within my local community with youth, senior and disability groups, providing guidance and activities mainly focused on improving general well-being, health and fitness levels.
I teach a wide range of strength, movement and rehabilitation programs as well as boxing, fitness, Pilates, and yoga for kids and young people and for women who are survivors of breast cancer.
I have also taught snorkelling and SUP yoga and worked as a tour guide in the Maldives.
I have been dancing at Dee Street since it started, actually, even before that when Sarah and I worked together on community projects and at Eve Studio. What I love about Dee Street is the overwhelming feeling of belonging no matter what! Inclusiveness; the connectivity and rad moves and tunes give me life!
I love bringing a mix of energy and education and encouraging the courageous in my classes; supporting women to feel good both inside and out.
I am continuously learning and growing through life experiences as well as furthering my knowledge and enhancing my professional skills so I can bring you the best version of myself in each class.
As a kid, I spent hours making up routines to Madonna and Michael Jackson. I remember begging my mum for dance classes and I started jazz ballet when I was about 12.
As much as I loved to dance, I felt so out of place. Most of the girls had been dancing since they were 4 and my body just wasn’t the 'right shape.' So, I stopped going and restricted my dancing to my loungeroom and kitchen dancefloors at parties.
When I moved to Melbourne from Perth in 2002 I rediscovered my passion for dance at Dee Street’s very own Sarah Dee’s African dance class. I felt so at home with the style, I loved the rhythm, the movement and that the shape of my body didn't matter.
I began to understand the healing power of dance and started studying dance movement therapy. This led me to undertake a cultural study tour to Ghana in 2006, learning traditional dances and rhythms.
Back in Melbourne, I began teaching drum and dance workshops at African Drumming and performing with the African percussion band Ouga. I continued to learn from some of Melbourne’s best African dance teachers, including Mitzi McCrae and Lamine Sonko.
I'm excited to share my knowledge of the rhythm and movement that connects us through teaching at Dee Street. I love that this is a dance community that embraces women of all shapes and sizes and encourages self-expression in a supportive and super fun way.