The Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet’s origins can be traced back to 1960 when Miss Phyl Lawrence began teaching pupils in the Cecchetti method in Shepparton. Miss Lawrence had learnt from Lucie Saranova a pupil of Enrico Cecchetti himself, who developed the method. Miss Lawrence’s pupil Rhonda Cooper then established her own dance school which eventually became the Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet. The school passed through two further principals Miss Glenda and Miss Lorraine.
Current principal Melanie Coats took charge in 1988. Miss Melanie began dancing at 5 years of age in England where her father had been posted as an army officer. On her return to Australia further ballet lessons took place and she soon developed a passion and a talent for it. Miss Melanie learnt to dance at the Heidelberg and District Ballet School under Lorraine Blackbourne who was a dancer with the professional Borovansky company a predecessor of The Australian Ballet. Miss Melanie also performed with a senior selective dance group called ‘The Ensemble’. Gaining teaching qualifications in Melbourne Miss Melanie first began teaching at her old school. Upon arriving in Shepparton for her employment as a dental therapist she taught classes for Miss Lorraine at the Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet. When Miss Lorraine decided to move to Melbourne, Miss Melanie seized the opportunity to devote herself to her passion and decided to purchase and run the school. In 2013 Miss Melanie celebrated her 25th Year of being principal of the school with a delightful reunion celebration.
Miss Melanie has seen the school evolve and grow and has helped thousands of young pupils improve as dancers and blossom as confident young people as they go through the school. Many of the students at the school have achieved outstanding results in ballet exams. Each year the Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet has entertained a large and appreciative audience at the annual performance in Eastbank.
Miss Melanie keeps her skills updated with the latest refinements in the Cecchetti method. As well as Miss Melanie, Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet students benefit from guidance of Miss Tunya a former student of the Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet who has become a fully qualified and registered ballet teacher too. Miss Tunya’s skills as a nurse have also been helpful to apply first aid to the occasional minor injury!
Many young pupils of Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet have developed into dance teachers and assistant dance teachers and currently we have Emma And Connie Daniel, Amanda Posteraro, Nicola Coats, Gemma Cerasi, Emily Bolton and Georgia Bell contributing their skills and enthusiasm to the students of ballet school.