This article first appeared in the Humans of the Peninsula Facebook page.
I was humbled to receive such lovely comments form the community about my story and studio vision.
Humans on the Peninsula
I did not grow up on the peninsula but have some great childhood memories of holidays in McCrae, Rye and Sorrento. I was born in New Zealand and by the age of two my mother was told I was going to be 6ft plus! Only being just above 5ft herself, my mum was determined that I would stand tall and have great posture, so she sent me to ballet. We moved to Australia when I was seven and settled in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne. My dance journey continued then at the Heidelberg and District Ballet School. I was taught to dance, but more than that, my teacher Lorraine Blackbourn OAM (or Miss B), gave me an undying love for dance and all its incredible possibilities. She taught me that dance is more than just a series of steps. She taught me that dance can be a platform to transform lives. Dance teaches compassion, empathy, kindness, hard-work, determination, resilience and it creates a bond and community spirit like no other. Well that was my experience anyway.
I meet my husband through dance. A man of many talents he was also a keen horseman and ended up working in the racing industry for a number of years which led us to living in Mornington, near the Racetrack. We fell in love with the Peninsula and felt we had struck gold. Such a beautiful part of the world with a wonderful community spirit and yet, we were still just an hour away from our family and the bright lights of Melbourne. For us it was a no brainer. We married and purchased our home and we are very happily now “locals”, 16 years and counting.
When I left school I continued to teach and gain my dance teaching qualifications as well as obtaining a BA in Disability Studies. I passed with flying colours and was invited into the honours program. After years of study, the workforce and a decent paycheck beckoned. I declined and instead took up a position with the Spastic Society of Victoria (now Scope Vic) as a Community Recreation Worker. I worked closely with people with disabilities, service providers and community organisations to create programs and opportunities for people with disabilities to be included in everyday activities. I can honestly say that my career in this field shaped who I am today. I worked with some of the most incredibly intelligent, forward thinking and ground breaking people I have ever had the privilege to meet. I worked my way into various job roles at Scope and even spent time working on secondment with the Department of Human Services.
Outside of my 9-5 job, my journey to the Peninsula also meant that I was able to take the opportunity to teach for the incredible Miss Sandra Allan at the Rosebud Ballet School. The school was established in 1961 and I was honoured to be able to teach for Miss Allan, when she was away examining and adjudicating. Miss Allan is honestly one of the most dedicated and intelligent dance teachers I have ever met. Her knowledge and passion for ballet is truly inspiring. She has trained many peninsula kids who have gone onto careers on the stage and screen, probably most notably Jason Coleman. Jason still credits Miss Allan with instilling his love for dance and speaks of how he was taught to “feel” rather than just do the step.
Miss Allan approached me in 2005 to sell her business. I was beyond thrilled. The timing with baby number two on the way was perfect. I was done with the relentless travel to the city for work, and more than happy with the thought of teaching dance and running a business in and around our family.
Fast forward 10 years and I am honestly living my dream. We now have three children and have moved the school into a factory space. It was a huge decision and we have not one regret. Peninsula School of Dance is absolutely, one hundred percent, my happy place. I am beyond thrilled that I get to teach dance, work with an incredible team of teachers and inspire young kids to be the best they can be through dance.
I am proud of our reputation and that we achieve great results for our students. Whilst these results are wonderful they are not my only definition of success. I am honestly most proud of the kids that have struggled with confidence, faced learning challenges, suffered with anxiety, felt shy or even been bullied at school. I am proud of those kids more than anything, for getting in and having a go and being the best versions of themselves. Time and time again I have conversations with parents who tell me “dance is his/her happy place”. I am so proud of the nurturing culture at Peninsula School of Dance and it is this in which I will continue to invest the most energy in.
Side note – I am not 6ft, ended by 5ft8inches but still very glad Mum sent me to ballet!