A NEW dance academy has launched in Bendigo, giving performers access to new learning opportunities as they aspire to a professional career in the arts.
The Z Fit Studios Academy will offer advanced and high-level dance programs and help students establish professional careers in the creative industry.
Located in McCrae Street, the academy will be Z Fit's fourth studio.
Z Fit executive director Saari Frochot-Chauhan said the academy was developed as a result of of setting out a five-year plan and long term visions for the business.
"It has been in the works from early this year," she said. "During COVID, we sat down and did a five-year plan and this is what came about.
"There definitely is a call for people wanting to pursue performance as a career and in regional areas it's hard to find the correct training to do that. People will travel to Melbourne for that and other opportunities.
"We want to provide those opportunities in regional areas. It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for (the arts) and everyone this year but it is important to keep the industry alive as much as we can."
The academy will be managed by department head Jennifer Rae McClean. Ms McClean was a student with Z Fit when it opened 10 years ago but developed into a teacher.
"Helping create this (academy) studio has been incredible. It's a dream come true," she said. "The performing industry kind of died a little (this year) but now we are getting opportunities again. Senior students are getting full time courses, getting jobs and work.
"We have clientele who are really wanting to do more now and we are bringing something to Bendigo they haven't got before. A career in performing arts is definitely a more real opportunity (than it was years ago)."
As well as the guidance of Ms McClean and Ms Frochot-Chauhan, Robbie Brassington, Charlie Munday and Gabby Hasty will also teach at the academy when classes start next year.
"It's really exciting to have such a depth of talent in our teaching staff," Ms Frochot-Chauhan said. "We were able to look at that and see we are at a point where can offer this (type of learning) to people.
"We still want to search and bring in more talent because we want to offer the best we can. But we have a very solid team already which is exciting."
Ms Frochot-Chauhan said she hoped people had realised the importance of the performing arts industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I hope people have missed those performing arts elements," she said. "But I think there are still a lot who think performance is not a real career.
"I still think that's a big thing even though (more opportunities) have developed in our time. So it's still a big thing to show that performance is a legitimate career.
"Working in arts is legitimate career. It's not easy and you have to work hard but it is a legitimate career."