BIG MILESTONE: Ipswich dance teacher Shayne McCormick is celebrating 50 years of teaching dance.
BIG MILESTONE: Ipswich dance teacher Shayne McCormick is celebrating 50 years of teaching dance. Contributed

From dancing in England to owning a studio in Newtown

WHILE dancing and teaching ballet in England, Shayne McCormick received a telegram which changed the course of her life.

Miss McCormick discovered her former dance teacher in Ipswich was ill, and was hoping she would return home to take over the school.

"There were no mobiles or internet back in those days, just writing. They asked in the telegram if I would contemplate coming home," she said.

"The dancing school was called the Gwen Hardie School of Dancing.

"I gave it a lot of thought and decided to come home and make teaching my life. I left on February 14 and it took me roughly five weeks to get home by sea.

"I can't remember the exact day I took over, but it was the term just after Easter in 1969."

After Gwen's passing, the Shayne McCormick Ballet Centre was formed. This year, the dance school is celebrating 50 years of teaching.

Miss McCormick's love of dancing stemmed from a young age, and has followed her all her life.

"I started dancing quite late. I was nearly 11," she said.

"My mum didn't think ballet was a good idea. She thought it was just one of those passing things.

"In those days, there wasn't much money around, so I used to roll up newspapers and sell them to the local butcher. I lived on Blackstone Rd and the butcher shop just up the road was called Boettchers. The family have now gone into cars and real estate.

"I used to sell the papers to Mr Boettcher and I couldn't take less than a shilling because that's how much I used to pay a girl from up the road to teach me highland dancing. I started learning in her garage. I think she was an Australian champion in highland dancing.

"My mother then realised I was pretty serious and she decided to take me to a lesson."

 

Shayne McCormick, who owns a ballet centre in Newtown, this year celebrating 50 years of teaching.
Shayne McCormick, who owns a ballet centre in Newtown, this year celebrating 50 years of teaching. Contributed

Her talent continued to shine and after a recommendation from her teacher, she moved across the world to pursue dancing in England.

While her time in Europe may have been cut short, she has never regretted moving back to her home town to take up a new direction with dancing.

Lessons were held in Darling St and the hall at Silkstone State School before Miss McCormick and her husband bought the church at 52 Glebe Rd in 1990, where the school still operates today.

"You might not believe me, but I've been offered positions everywhere. It's tempting to live in London or Shanghai, but that's not my community. That's not my home," she said.

"That's why I stayed here. That's why I bought the building. To anchor something solid in the town.

"I had my day. My life was then about passing on my love and passion for ballet to the children.

"I enjoy the challenge of teaching. There has been so many wonderful and amazing children to teach. I can't tell you how many children I have taught though."

To mark the milestone, Miss McCormick is planning a big celebration in September, and hopes to see as many old faces as possible for a trip down memory lane.

"I have been busy framing old photographs. I will be putting them all around the dance studio so people can go and look back in time."



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