Sally Prendergast takes DiLi dance school to new heights

SALLY'S STARS: DiLi founder and teacher, Sally Prendergast, with one of her Saturday dance classes wearing a new shipment of tutus. Photo: Esther MacIntyre
SALLY'S STARS: DiLi founder and teacher, Sally Prendergast, with one of her Saturday dance classes wearing a new shipment of tutus. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

Dance teacher with a difference, Sally Prendergast, has beaten the odds against small business owners, going from strength to strength in her first year. 

‘Dream it, live it’ (DiLi) is Sally Prendergast’s school, and a personal mantra she shares with each of her students, young or old.

DiLi (pronounced ‘dilly’), has attracted more than 300 students in its first year.

Despite this success, winning the Chamber’s Choice at the Northern Outback Business Awards, and being selected as a Commonwealth Games baton bearer, Sally says success has not come easy.

DiLi dancer at Lake Moondarra. Photo: supplied by DiLi

DiLi dancer at Lake Moondarra. Photo: supplied by DiLi

“This is the fourth dance school business that I have run,” Sally said.

“But it’s the first time I’m doing it in a genuinely authentic way, and doing it where it doesn’t come at a cost to me.

​“None of my choices have been easy, but they’ve all been worth it. The process to get here has not necessarily been smooth,” Sally said.

Photo gallery: ‘Miss Sally’s tiny dancers’

Early last year, Sally had another dance school called ‘Dancers R Us’, and a retail store called and ‘DiLi’ on Miles Street. 

Commerce North West President, Travis Crowther, presents Sally with the Chamber's Choice at the Northern Outback Business Awards on October 14. Photo: Derek Barry

Commerce North West President, Travis Crowther, presents Sally with the Chamber's Choice at the Northern Outback Business Awards on October 14. Photo: Derek Barry

“At that time I decided to leave town because of personal stuff that was going on. I just didn’t want to be here anymore because of that, but I had to close two businesses that I loved in the process,” she said.

“You know when you’re in something that doesn’t feel great, you don’t feel like there are a lot of options.”

Sally said she found herself in Townsville, working ‘some crappy job' that she didn’t enjoy.

“Like I said, I can’t live that way. That was destroying me. I really had to overcome a lot of my own personal demons to then fight was right for me, regardless of anything or anyone else.

“Pulling myself out of what was a really big low, took everything I had.”

It was a phone conversation with a friend back in Mount Isa that rekindled Sally’s dream, she said.

“I went, oh yeah, that’s what I want to do. I want to be back in Mount Isa, I want to teach kids.”

Accepting the Northern Outback Business Award for Chamber’s Choice, Sally said something quite heartfelt; “I get to love people every day.”

“It’s true! I do a job that I adore. Most people don’t. That in itself is kind of enough,” she said.

“Being recognised, sure, but then just genuinely loving what I do, that is amazing.”