Dragonfly Dance: For the dancer inside you

Dragonfly Dance repertoire students. Photo courtesy of Jo McDonald.
Dragonfly Dance repertoire students. Photo courtesy of Jo McDonald.

Imagine spending most of your life underwater; waiting to surface, destined to fly. Now imagine the unfolding of wings. At last, you are ready. And flying is such joy.

For 17 years, we were Move Through Life; now, we are Dragonfly Dance. Why? Because, like our new namesake, we understand that the chance to fly is worth the wait. Just as the dragonfly’s story is one of remarkable transformation, so, too, is ours. Yours. 

You thought you couldn’t. Too old, too young. Not good enough. Over it. Until, like the dragonfly, you found your wings. They were always there, waiting for you to catch up. Once, underwater, you could only dream of the sky. Now, in your mature form, the sky’s the limit. 

Dragonfly Dance.

Dragonfly Dance is for the dancer inside you. For the you inside you. The magical, whimsical, beautiful you. Grow into yourself, move into your body, find your true form. Stay fit and have fun. Connect and create. Flex, flourish and fly.

We know how good it feels to dance; and we know that it can feel like flying. So we look past the appearance and focus on the experience. You are already a dancer. Our job is to unclip your wings.

Welcome, dragonfly. You are hereby invited to the sky – where there is space for every dancer.

Dragonfly Dance. Become yourself.

Adelaide’s original adult dance company comes of age (again).

Sometimes, the best way to tick all the boxes is not to be a box ticker. Like the dragonfly – underwater, unnoticed – until it emerges, wings unfurled, to dazzle us with its beauty. 

This year, two Adelaide institutions underwent a similarly brilliant metamorphosis — a transformation driven by tenacious female entrepreneurs and made possible by a grassroots community of passionate supporters prepared to put their money where their hearts – and their dancing feet – are.    

The journey of SA’s original adult dance company proves that we are never too old to pivot. After 18 years as Move Through Life – and having hosted more than 1000 all-age/all-ability classes across multiple venues and created a string of acclaimed Fringe productions – they are reinventing themselves as Dragonfly Dance. 

Co-Owners of Dragonfly Dance Jo McDonald and Anne Stewart. Photo courtesy of McDonald.
Co-Owners of Dragonfly Dance Jo McDonald and Anne Stewart. Photo courtesy of McDonald.

But that’s not all, because the newly emerged Dragonfly has finally found a home. Having spent its formative years in hired halls around town, the company will has begun its new incarnation in one of Adelaide’s iconic Art Deco buildings, The Roxy Cinema on Anzac Highway. 

“The Roxy is a perfect dance partner,” says Jo McDonald, founder and inspiration behind Dragonfly Dance. “Like us, it’s been through many phases, and now we’re ready to give each other a new lease of life.”

Like their new home (which has been a cinema, a supermarket and a video store, as well as surviving a fire), Dragonfly Dance has outlasted changing trends, adapted to new market realities and battled through the financial firestorm of the pandemic. “Resilience, adaptability and community. That’s how it happens,” McDonald states. 

However, a building is more than bricks, and a dance company is more than its Artistic Director, as McDonald emphasises. “When we say grassroots, we mean it. We’re not here because of corporate sponsorship or government grants, or because I’m some kind of miracle worker; we’re here because our community wants us to be here. They’re the ones who supported our crowdfunding campaign. It’s their capital we used to make the Roxy thing happen. The dragonfly has its wings because of them, and for them.” 

Yet, for all the transformation talk, some things remain. Dragonfly will continue Move Through Life’s dedication to bringing the fun, fitness and self-expression of dance to people of all ages, body types and levels of ability. “Dance has made a massive difference in my life, and since I started this company, I’ve seen it inspire, challenge, and give an outlet to hundreds of people, from students and teachers to budding creatives. What I’ve learnt is that dance is less about how it looks and more about how it feels,” McDonald explains. 

A Dragonfly Dance student warming up in the studio's warm-up area equipped with ballet barres and other conditioning equipment. Photo courtesy of Jo McDonald.
A Dragonfly Dance student warming up in the studio’s warm-up area equipped with ballet barres and other conditioning equipment. Photo courtesy of Jo McDonald.

Dragonfly Dance has now taken flight at the Roxy Centre in Everard Park – and all on a brand new sprung floor recently installed by Matthew Plummer. Classes include ballet, jazz, contemporary and tap, from beginner to advanced, in two age streams (regular and mature – the latter being over 50s). In addition, Dragonfly Dance has two performing companies, for adults 18-60, and another for 50-65+.

Looking forward, Dragonfly’s McDonald reflects, “It’s a big risk changing names and investing in a permanent hone, but the time is right. The way I see it, we might not be the kind of people who make the news, but we are the kind who make a difference.”

If Move Through Life was the child, Dragonfly is the adult. Just turned 18 and licensed to soar.

Jo McDonald is a solo parent and arts entrepreneur from Adelaide. She started dancing as a young girl but, when her childhood ballerina dream did not eventuate, she created Move Through Life in 2004, initially as a performance vehicle and later as an age & body diverse dance school. She has worked for Country Arts SA and Regional Arts Australia and served as President of Ausdance SA. McDonald won the 2020 SA Woman ‘Quiet Achiever’ award.

Check out Dragonfly Dance at

By Paul Ransom of Dance Informa. 

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