Love for dance strong as ever for Yvonne O’Connor

Some of Yvonne O'Connor's students, Dominique Timothy-Nesbitt, Abbey Townsend, and Chelsea Holle, preparing for ballet exams earlier this year.
Some of Yvonne O'Connor's students, Dominique Timothy-Nesbitt, Abbey Townsend, and Chelsea Holle, preparing for ballet exams earlier this year.

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Dancing can provoke a wide range of emotion and no one knows that better than Yvonne O’Connor.

The talented dancer and teacher has been operating Yvonne O’Connor School of Dancing for the past 50 years.

Her love of dance has been unwavering but love wasn’t the first emotion she felt when she started dancing. Initially, she hated dance.

Yvonne was enrolled in ballet at the age of four by her parents to help her ligaments at the advice of doctors after being in plaster cast for more than a year.

“I couldn’t stand with my feet straight let alone turned out,” she said.

She even ran away from her parents when they told her she had to keep going after they saw improvement.

Her dad told her she could stop after one more year.

Soon after Yvonne started to be able to do some of the moves and her passion for dance began. She then went on to be a professional dancer and teacher.

After opening Yvonne O’Connor School of Dancing in 1968 she hasn’t looked back.

“I hoped I’d be going for a while but I never thought I’d get to 50 years,” Yvonne said.

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On average 130 students enroll each year with each one there for a different reason. Some go on to make dance their career while others dance for fun. 

“Everyone takes something different from it,” Yvonne said.

Students don’t just learn to dance they also create a community based around the studio.

“​A lot of students stay friends for life,” Yvonne said.

Some former students bring their own children and even grandchildren to classes.

Even after celebrating her 70th birthday, Yvonne plans to keep the studio open as long as she can.

“I just love it,” she said.

This love is obvious at the studio’s annual concert which showcases every student and every dance style. 

This year’s concert will feature a solo performance by former student Isabella Klemke who is currently training in London.

The concert will be held at the Civic Theatre on Saturday December 16 at 2pm and 7.15pm.

All proceeds raised by the concert have been donated to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance since 1968. Yvonne made the decision to donate after a friend's daughter was diagnosed.

Yvonne O'Connor with Madeleine Nugent in 2002.

Yvonne O'Connor with Madeleine Nugent in 2002.

Reunite to help celebrate 50 years

Anyone who has had a connection to Yvonne O’Connor School of Dance over the past 50 years are invited to come together to celebrate the milestone.

All former and current students and their family members and friends (who are over 18 years-old) will gather to celebrate and reunite on Saturday December 17.

Previous reunions have attracted plenty of people who have been connected to the school but this year is hoped to be the biggest.

With an average of 130 students a year for the past 50 years means more than 6000 people have been taught by Yvonne O’Connor since she open her studio.

The celebration will take place on December 17 at the Commercial Club Deck from 6.30pm. RSVP by Saturday December 9 by calling the studio or Leanne on 0431 299 789. Cost is $15 per person to cover light snacks, cake and a gift.

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