Jill teaches her last lesson

FINAL CLASS: Tate Noble, Jill Collins and Monique Noble at Jill's final belly dancing concert as a teacher. Image provided.

FINAL CLASS: Tate Noble, Jill Collins and Monique Noble at Jill's final belly dancing concert as a teacher. Image provided.

The jingle of Jill Collins’s coin belt will no longer be heard at the front of any upcoming belly dances, instead you will be able to spot her in the back row as she retires from teaching the sisterhood dance. 

Starting 16 years ago, Jill would take her three grandchildren to kinder gym and one day whilst the Wiggles music started to play- Jill started to dance. 

Her dancing became infectious and after weeks of her belly dancing, she was approached by the coordinator to start incorporating a children’s belly dancing classes. 

Classes started and with only seven students attending in the first week, Jill was amazed to see that by the second week she had 27 students. Her classes kept growing and growing and soon the dancing interest spread to the adults, and she began teaching adult classes.

Although she only considered herself as a beginner, she took on the challenge and begun teaching belly dancing classes across Peterborough, Wirrabara, Melrose and Port Germein. She was teaching every night of the week. 

Jill originally trained as a nurse, so teaching was not one of her immediate passions. Yet after she took some time off to raise her children, she found this second passion slowly integrate into many aspects of her life. 

It all started when she decided to take some pottery classes at Tafe, from there she was offered a position to teach a group of women who had been subjected to domestic violence. From there Jill found herself in several teaching positions including at the Tafe and at the Joyce Gray day care centre. 

From there, she swapped places with teaching and did some study and later commenced working at the hospital doing massage within the physiotherapy department.

Although Jill had many career changes, it didn’t deter her from any of her beginning passions, it just added to them. 

Being a belly dancer, she has not only watched herself but many other women gain confidence. She has seen them mature and change and from there, she has made life long friends. 

There is also a range of physical benefits that comes with the dance, including the way it works every muscle in your body and can be very helpful for women when transitioning through life. 

“The thing that I love about belly dancing, it is a dance for women, by women. It gives you lots of self confidence.”

- Jill Collins 

“A lot of the movements, like your hip circles- they say that they are very beneficial to females in child birth and during menstrual pain. You have this awesome freedom in your body that you would never get doing anything else. You work your whole body and it is pleasurable.”

With Jill creating all that Pirie and the region has ever known for belly dancing, she did not want to give up teaching, but she said she knew when it was time. 

“This year health wise, I have struggled quite a bit. I have had about three visits to hospital. I coped with that but the stress of classes, knowing that people rely on you. If it wasn’t for Angela, the girl who is going to be taking over me, I knew it would be awful”, she explained. 

Without wanting to leave her students in the lurch, Jill has found someone who will step into her shoes, but not even she could tell her students that she would not be returning to teach. 

“I didn’t tell them. I was too scared. I went down to my best friend who dances with us, I got there, then my phone rang and I had forgotten something and I wasn’t able to tell her.”

“The night of the concert, Geoff Brock from the time I started teaching- he has totally supported belly dancing. He has been to a lot of our concerts so I contacted him and said you were here for our very first concert, I want you to be here for my last. He came and made the announcement.” 

Now that Jill will be in the back row, she says that already she has been able to reconnect with her passion for dance. 

She no longer listens to the music to make up choreography, she can enjoy it. She is freeing her love of music and dance and doing it just for the sheer joy of dancing.