Our Story ~ Gumnut Dance

Our Story

Welcome to Gumnut Dance!

I’m Justine Lennane, a tertiary qualified dance educator and the founder of Gumnut Dance, Canberra. I have made it my mission to help parents encourage their children’s creativity and imagination through dance.

I’d like you to indulge me and answer some yes/no questions about why you’re visiting our website;

  • Has your child asked to go to dance or ballet class?
  • Is it your child’s first experience of a dance class?
  • Have you tried a dance school, but it didn’t meet your needs?
  • Your child dances when music comes on and/or makes up moves?
  • You’re a bit unsure about which dance school to choose?
  • You want something local, with a great culture, where your child will learn and be creative, all without too much pressure or expense?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, I completely understand your position and am pleased that you’re considering Gumnut Dance for your child.

In early 2013, I was doing exactly what you’re doing now – researching local dance schools. My daughter, then aged 3.5, wanted to dance. I was a bit nervous as I was unsure of letting her into the ‘dance world’ – it seemed so different from when I grew up (things have become more competitive with TV shows like Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance and a plethora of dance competitions). What with the apparent pressure on kids, focus on looks and the expense of it all – costly fees, costumes, make-up, different dance wear for every type of dance (the list goes on), I felt overwhelmed and I’d spent a good many years in the dance world. I decided I did not want that for my daughter – she was quite introverted and would not have coped with a competitive or overly strict environment at such a young age.

Now, I’m not saying all dance schools are competitive or put too much pressure on kids, far from it. I was just finding it hard to find one that suited what my child needed.

So, like many other people who start businesses, I decided to use my background and skills to go out on my own. I didn’t realise at the time there were many other parents looking for the type of dance class I had decided to offer.

I thought long and hard before I started Gumnut Dance. For a start I had two young children and a good job in the public service. Why change things? Why take a risk? In the end, the idea just wouldn’t leave me and I knew I wanted to teach dance again. I wanted to impart my knowledge to my daughter, who also inspired the name Gumnut Dance – I used to call her my ‘gumnut girl’ when she was a tiny baby.

So, Gumnut Dance was born! My daughter still dances with us and my son has also been dancing in the program for four years. Both of them love it.

The Gumnut program grew rapidly from one class with six children to adding other age levels from 2014. Every year as our wonderful dancers grow, so does our program! We now have 260 students ranging in age from 2 to 11.

From humble beginnings running classes in old church halls, to community centres in the north and south of Canberra, we now have our own beautiful, purpose-built venue in Mitchell. This has allowed us to bring the Gumnut Dance community into one location and expand the business. We can offer so much more now of the Gumnut Dance experience, including birthday parties!

I now have a fantastic team of passionate teachers who help me to realise the vision that is Gumnut Dance. I value them all and the contributions they bring to the business. I couldn’t do it without them (or my family)!

We have a focus on making things as convenient as possible for parents from enrolment to buying dance gear through our shop. We know parents are time poor, so anything we can do to help, we do.

I’m very proud of the community that has been created through Gumnut Dance and our families are a constant source of positivity and inspiration.

Rest assured there are no ‘dance moms’ (or dads) at Gumnut Dance!

If you’re looking for a dance school that focuses on the enjoyment of dance, creativity, imagination and fun, then I think you’ve found what you’re looking for. Your family will be warmly welcomed.

Justine Lennane