'Life highlight' for dancers: Moll’s Dolls take to the stage

Shuffle ball change, time step, and buffalo are just a few of the most common tap dancing moves – and Molly Chapman knows very well.

As the director and vice president of an all-female competitive tap-dancing team, Moll’s Dolls, Chapman, who teaches the team and competes alongside them, has been preparing for several months for the 35th New Zealand Masters Games.

The event will take place in Dunedin from February 3-11, and the group of 35 to 70-year-olds will dance the nights away, competing against four teams in the formation dance and show dance categories of the dance-sport section.

Moll’s Dolls have won gold, silver and bronze medals at the past four Masters Games. Photo: Geoff...
Moll’s Dolls have won gold, silver and bronze medals at the past four Masters Games. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The group will also compete as duos, triples and quad teams in the under-50s and over-50s categories.

Chapman, 65, said: “The masters is one of the only competitions where we get to showcase our talents and compete against other groups. We are really excited about competing as representatives of our local community.

“We’re also a masters games award-winning team, having won gold, silver and bronze medals in the formation team and dance sport at the last four games.”

The team has received a New Zealand Community Trust grant of $2000 to help with the running of two minivans and accommodation costs.

Chapman donned her first pair of tap shoes when she was four and never looked back. Born and raised in Dunedin, she now lives in Bromley and has been teaching dance for more than 45 years.

The Molls Dolls. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Molls Dolls. Photo: Geoff Sloan
She passed her love of dance onto her late daughter Nicola, who died six years ago, and her son Hayden, who graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2014 and is now a New York-based off-Broadway performer.

“I love dancing, it has been a full family affair. It brings me so much joy and I believe it is never too late to learn how to dance,” Chapman said.

“Moll’s Dolls is about being, dancing and competing together and enjoying yourself. We’re one of very few tap-dancing teams that actively compete . . . and we have an absolute blast.”

The group was founded in 2015 and came about when the mother of a young girl Chapman was teaching suggested setting up a class for adults, as well as preschoolers.

It was while attending a masters games event with a softball team that Chapman became aware of the dance-sports category and soon after began setting up a competitive dance team.

Team member and performer Julie Riker said Molls Doll’s was their “senior sports club” and provided an invaluable sense of community, happiness, and health.

”Being able to dance with childhood friends some fifty years later and travel to the NZ Masters Games in Dunedin will be a life highlight for me.”

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
The group offers classes for women of all skill levels at St John’s Church in Woolston, ranging from absolute beginners to seasoned tappers, and offers the opportunity to dance at corporate functions, community events, rest homes and other performances.

Said Angela Yannakis, who is also a part of the performing team: “Moll’s Dolls are a fun-loving dance group with one thing in common – a passion for tap dancing.

“We constantly strive not only to perform to a high standard but also to have the most wonderful time doing it.”

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied