Odette's School of Dance celebrates forty years in Port Lincoln

Dance school family: Odette Pearson (centre) with four of her students (Lucy Bennie, Charli Barrowcliff, Mieke Beckmann and Ema Stobart). Photo: Emile Pearson, Hook & Hammer Creative Media
Dance school family: Odette Pearson (centre) with four of her students (Lucy Bennie, Charli Barrowcliff, Mieke Beckmann and Ema Stobart). Photo: Emile Pearson, Hook & Hammer Creative Media

This year marks a significant milestone for Odette's School of Dance as it celebrates 40 years of teaching.

Beginning in 1981 with only two evening classes, the school soon expanded with classes being taught for the ensuing years across the Lower EP at Cleve, Cummins and Tumby Bay.

Demand became so great that by the 90s the Port Lincoln studio delivered classes five nights a week to accommodate the growing number of students and the plethora of dance styles offered.

These included Cecchetti Classical Ballet, Modern Theatre Dance, Jazz and Tap Dance.

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Annual examinations were held with international adjudicators travelling to Port Lincoln requiring live accompanying pianists.

The school was blessed to have access to the local talents of the likes of Judy Pearce, Margaret Broadbear, Bill Kannassaur, Stella Habner, Richard McDonald - without whom these exams could not have been held.

What is a dance school without performance?

For dancers, performance is integral to the study of the discipline, and also brings much joy to the wider community.

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Over 40 years of dance the school has undertaken dozens of performances, with featured "Ballet Stories" every two years.

These extravagant displays have had the appreciative audiences of aged-care home residents, young kindy and school students, and of course friends and families.

Additionally, students have taken dance to the community in places such as aged-care facilities, and during special events as church fetes and the famous Tunarama festival.

According to director Odette Pearson, she has taught more than 3000 students over her 40 years teaching, and some of them are now second generation.

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

"Each student I have taught has been part of the dance school family sharing the valuable experiences of fun, work, perseverance, sense of self-worth and achievement in performance," she said.

"Some students I have taught for 14 years or more. They are like daughters to me, and I love them dearly."

"Dance teaches posture, self-awareness, discipline and respect for self and others."

"It teaches students to be better audience members in years to come, recognising the hard work that goes into presenting performances."

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Odette says she owes the success and longevity of Odette's School of Dance to the support of people such as her mother, Tonny Schuurmans, who assisted with the business element, and her husband Danton who has been responsible for the masterful and vibrant stage sets and props.

"Ultimately, performances could not have happened without the strong support of the parents of students," Odette said.

"I am very appreciative of the love and support received from these wonderful people too."

And what better way to celebrate 40 years of teaching dance than giving the studio a facelift. Be sure to check out the clever artwork at Lincoln Dance Studio, 23 Blackman Place.

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Photo: Images of Iris Photography

Also planned are some special classes with students enjoying their dance classes, wearing all sorts of costumes for fun.

To top it off, there will be an extra-special Dance Story performance this year on November 20 with every current student participating, and possibly a couple of past students joining in as special guests.

Expect a very sweet story, with lots of fun.

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