She was just three-years-old when Isabelle Fox first put on her tap dancing shoes, and she hasn’t stopped dancing since.
Winning around 40 dance trophies a year is no mean feat, but for 15-year-old Isabelle it is what drives her to work hard on sassy moves with brisk jumps and rhythmic footwork at a highly competitive level.
Trained at the Raewyn Burgess School of Tap in Greenlane, Isabelle has won the prestigious Noel Burnett Tap Award at the Auckland Caledonian Dance Competition, held recently.
The Saint Kentigern College student competed with dancers from around New Zealand to win the award and $5000 prize money.
A roomful of trophies won at various dance competitions through the years, stand testimony to the long hours of hard work.
She is saving the prize money so that she can compete in dance competitions overseas.
Apart from tap dancing, Isabelle studies various disciplines of dance that include ballroom, jazz, ballet, contemporary and hip hop at different dance schools.
Her dream job is to travel overseas and dance on a cruise ship.
“The competition is real tough,” says the young dancer who competed in Australia for a scholarship from the Ministry of Dance and won it two years in a row.
“Everyone is very versatile. Sometimes it comes down to the right look for role– like the colour of your hair or how tall you are,” she says.
She loves tap dancing “because it is a very active dance style and you can perform it at different speed, ranging from slow to fast or medium”.
Her mother Natalie, who spends most of her time driving her daughter to different dance classes, says it’s aboout team work.
“Isabelle’s grandmother and I work together on her dance costumes,” says Natalie.
There is a special haberdashery room in the house where Natalie spends time altering outfits, adding bling to dance costumes and coordinating accessories for her daughter’s competitive dance performances.
“There are nine different styles of tap dancing at the Auckland Caledonian Dance competition and each of them has a different costume,” she says.
Their home in Mellons Bay is now being extended to include a dance room with proper flooring.
With an intensive dance programme seven days a week, Isabelle says she finishes most of her school work in class and occasionally stays up late at night to cope with it.
Devoted to dance, Isabelle has won an NZAMD scholarship and is eligible for Jazz and Tap.
“One has to score 97 per cent or higher to be eligible,” says the tap dancer who has won five years in a row at the Tauranga Champ of Champs is now nominated for the Tap Nationals in 2018.