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.
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.
When I was 5 years old I begged my mum to enrol me into dance classes. I did ballet, tap and jazz (it was the 80’s). I made up dances in my bedroom constantly for anyone who was willing to watch. I entered all the competitions, thrived on practising for exams and concerts. I loved it all! I trained contemporary dance at Ga-ton in Israel. But after an injury and just being a teenager I sort of let dancing go…
When I came back to Melbourne, I tried to find a dance class that I enjoyed, but everything was so fast paced and focussed on being ‘cool’... the joy I had felt learning routines was gone, it was all just hard and not fun. So I stopped dancing at parties and alone in my lounge room, I got into Taekwondo and was pretty focused on that.
After having a second child, and feeling like leaving my kids at night was out of reach and being fit would never be possible, my neighbour and I decided to check out some classes. We saw a sign for Dee Street - African inspired booty hip hop dance?! We thought that would be great for a laugh. So on a hot summer night we ventured up to a class that nearly killed me! That dance class woke up my body in a way I had forgotten, it felt amazing. I was hooked, but not without all the self doubt, body loathing, and chatter in my head about my age, being a mum and could I dance anymore?
From the start Sarah Dee created a place where I had the space to find my rhythm, feel into my body again and quieten down all the pointless chatter about not being good enough. I remembered my deep love of movement, music and the pure joy of dancing with others. Now I'm the first one on the dance floor and I couldn't imagine my life without Dee Street.
After more than 5 years dancing as a student, and after training for the better part of a year, I am thrilled to be stepping into the role of teacher. I am excited to share not only the moves but the opportunity for rich experiences with our community.
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.