A silk red sash proudly hangs on Erin Stuck’s bedroom wall amongst other ribbons and medals won by the youngster.
Last week the vibrant nine-year-old won first place for her hip-hop solo in the 11 years and under category at the Bays School of Dance Competition. She also came away with the championship title after being placed first in the 15 years and under category as well.
Despite the six-year age gap between herself and the oldest competing girl in her category, little Erin’s big moves wowed the judges.
Looking on from the audience was proud mother Audra Stuck and Erin’s two older brothers, Michael, 23, and Darren, 16, who never miss a competition.
The family is originally from South Africa. Audra adopted Erin on the 21st February 2006, seven days after she was born. In 2008, after two home invasions and with crime in South Africa on the rise, the loving mother moved her family to New Zealand for a better life.
Soon after, Audra took three-year-old Erin to a playgroup session involving dance and movement. Erin’s natural dance ability and rhythm was spotted. The teacher advised Audra to enroll her talented daughter in dance classes and, as they say, the rest is history.
Erin has tried her hand at many styles of dance. Taking out the Auckland Ballroom Championships under 10, 12 & 15 years when she was just six-years-old. This little lady sure is anything but a one-trick-pony. That same year Erin started competing in jazz and now trains six days a week (around 10-12 hours), at Storm Dance Studio in Howick.
During competition season they add in an extra two-to-three hours on Sundays as well, yet Erin still has time to flip and flick around the garden, leaping and showing off new tricks. The passion for dance and movement is constantly within her, says Audra.
When Erin grows up she wants to be a make up artist, hairdresser, dance teacher and mother.
It is Audra’s dream for Erin to be “exactly who she wants to be”.
She says: “Watching Erin dance each week is how I treat myself. I think my heart wants to burst when other people have seen her dance and then say that they couldn’t take their eyes off her. But it’s not how well she dances, it’s her personality, her whole being comes alive and that’s what I love to watch.
“It’s not the tricks or the placing or trophies, it’s the passion that comes alive in her, she loses her self. I feel like she’s the real Erin when she dances.”
Erin finished off the Bays School of Dance Competition on Sunday, when she performed a hip-hop dance based solely on her own choreography.
She took out first place in the open section.