Coffs Coast Physie has had a successful year on a competition level, as well as a fun year of dancing as a club. We spoke with Allison Cook Pitt about what she loves about teaching Physical Culture, the club’s achievements, as well as their goals for the year ahead.
Hey Allison. For those who don’t know, can you explain what Physie is?
Physie (short for Physical Culture) is a sport! A dance sport, to be precise. Physie is a combination of dance, jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, aerobic dance, and even yoga and marching! The age appropriate choreography and music changes each year, and the dances are designed to maximise coordination, strength, fitness and flexibility.
How long have you been involved with Physical Culture?
I have been involved with Physie for over four decades. I started doing Physie myself when I was five years old. I am still competing, teaching and enjoying Physie and plan to for a long time to come!
How many people make up Coffs Coast Physie, and what is the age range?
Coffs Coast Physie is a family oriented club. We have approximately 120 – 130 girls and ladies who come to our classes each week.
Our girls range from four years of age to our eldest individual competitor, who is 66, in our ladies’ class. The BJP motto of Empowering Girls for Life is so true!
It’s also really important to point out that ability is not a criteria at Physie; we welcome all girls and ladies.
Does everyone who performs Physie get involved in competitions?
No, competing is not compulsory! Girls and ladies are more than welcome to come along and just enjoy the exercise and friendships, but to be honest, it’s pretty hard to get to the end of the season and not want to show off all your new moves and skills! It really is so much fun to compete together and cheer each other on. We have so much fun celebrating our successes, hard work and achievements!
How do the competitions work? Do they start local and work up to national competitions?
Each year we compete in Interclub competitions, at least two of them. We do one road trip, and one as close to Coffs as we can – we know that families can find sports expenses hard, so we minimise it as much as we can.
At the end of the season, our girls and ladies can choose to compete at our individual zone competition, as well our team events. These are a fantastic way to enjoy getting on the floor with friends and working together. Successful competitors at this level can then go on to compete in Sydney at a national level.
The pinnacle of the competition season is, of course, Nationals. Not everyone gets to compete at this level; you are competing against the best of the best, and the Physie is amazing!
We hear you competed in Sydney recently at Championship Team events? How did Coffs Coast go?
Last year our juniors made it into BJP Championship Grade … the highest of all grades. This is no mean feat for a regional club. We have been working toward this for the last seven years, and we were able to take six of our teams to Sydney to compete at the Quay Centre at Olympic Park. It was a great opportunity for many of our dancers, who may never experience dancing here otherwise. We went down with the only expectation to do our best and have fun, but we managed to walk away with three places in each age group.
You had some stand out solo performances; can you tell us about those?
We had 17 Coffs Coasters represent our club and the Far North Coast at an individual level for our National Competition. We had three members make the National Final, which is the top 18 in Australia and our youngest finalist, Gretel Carpenter, who is only six years of age, was awarded 5th prize in her section.
We also had our amazing senior Chelsea Pitt compete at the Senior Final, which is held at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Chelsea danced with her peers in front of over 2,000 spectators and was awarded National Champion in her age group for the last two years in a row! BEST IN AUSTRALIA.
We also had Tara Tweddle, who is our Novice Lady, compete in Sydney at the BJP Ladies’ Nationals, and she proudly represented Coffs Coast Physie and made it to the National Semi Final.
What sort of preparation goes in to getting ready for a competition?
This is a great question – because it lets me dispel some myths about Physie! Girls are not allowed to wear fake tan, “boofy” hair or eye makeup (false lashes etc.) at all. A little light foundation and a bit of lippy is the only makeup allowed for girls who compete up to the age of 12. Our girls are beautiful just as they are, so we want to see their natural beauty shine through!
There are no elaborate costumes or shoes required; all competitors need to compete is one BJP leotard of their choice, and the club supplies our team leotards. We are conscious of keeping costs down for our families. There are also new options for ladies who might not want to wear a leotard. BJP Physie has just released a variety of leggings and tops for ladies to choose from too.
We train and practice each week to get ready for competitions and have also included a stretching class beforehand, to make sure everyone gets the most out of their classes. As we get closer to comps, we also offer workshops to help everyone feel confident and ready to hit the dance floor!
What are some of your goals for the year ahead?
We are really excited to start our classes this year in our new venues. Each year our goal is to have more families join in the fun at Coffs Coast Physie, and this year is no different.
There is no better feeling as a teacher than to watch individuals, young or old, become more confident in themselves and their abilities week after week in a safe, nurturing and encouraging environment.