Edna Busse created history when she became the first Australian-trained prima ballerina and then went on to become one of the pioneers of ballet in this country.
But she is also well known in Wagga for her ballet academy, where she fostered the talents of generations of young dancers.
This week, Miss Busse added another chapter to her extraordinary life, when she celebrated her 100th birthday.
Long-time friend Maria Tinning said friends and former students had gathered for a party on Sunday and had been visiting Miss Busse on Monday, her actual birthday.
Miss Busse was born in Melbourne and began taking dance lessons there when she was a young child, but initially did not focus solely on ballet.
But then she had the opportunity to study with Edouard Borovansky and his wife Xenia and later joined the Borovansky Ballet.
Among the highlights of her career, Miss Busse was highly regarded for her perfomance of Odette in Swan Lake.
In the early 1950s, Miss Busse underwent surgery on a leg injury, Mrs Tinning said.
Facing a recuperation period of some months, Miss Busse went to London, where she gradually began to resume dancing.
Offers to further her career in Europe came in, but sadly Miss Busse received word that her mother had collapsed and was asking to see her daughter.
Miss Busse returned to Australia in about 1955.
Mrs Tinning said her friend felt her leg had never fully regained its strength, so she decided to retire from performing.
Having retired from the stage, Miss Busse began her teaching career in Melbourne.
But it was a phone call to her “Madame” – Xenia Borovansky – that paved the way for the next phase of her life.
That call, Mrs Tinning said, was to ask for help in finding a ballet teacher for Wagga, a role Miss Busse accepted, and her ballet academy opened in 1968.
Miss Busse was also heavily involved in the establishment of the Inland Ballet and choreographed several major productions for the group.
Mrs Tinning said her long-time friend was a devoted teacher to her young pupils.
“She gave them a taste of what professional ballet is like behind the scenes,” Mrs Tinning said.