In the wake of esteemed ballerina Edna Busse’s passing, her far-reaching friends and family have become reminiscent of her time in Wagga.
One ballet school in Wagga played a large role in bringing the star to the city, taking her away from her well-established career in Melbourne.
The once Principle of the family-run Shephard School of Dancing, Mrs Adele Whitford (nee Shephard), said it was their business that drew Miss Busse to the region.
“My brother John actually used to be with the Borovansky Ballet around 1950, and that’s where he met Edna where she was the Principal dancer at the time,” Mrs Whitford said.
“When he came back to Wagga he started his own school, the Shephard School of Dancing, and I soon became involved too as the Principal and dance teacher for a good 16 years.”
Well-known friend and former student of Edna Busse, Julie Webber, was also a student at the Shephard School of Dancing after it grew in size, expertise and attracted more students with widespread Eisteddfod competitions.
“I can’t remember exactly the year Julie Webber and her sister Shannon joined the classes, but they were with us for a good number of years, progressing from basically no dance skill to attractive little performers in ballet, highland dance and tap,” Mrs Whitford said.
Miss Busse’s time in Wagga was about to begin after Mrs Whitford and her husband John had to move to Sydney for work.
“We wanted to leave the pupils in good shape and with an excellent teacher to guide them,” she said.
“My brother spoke to Edna who was very interested, and she agreed to come with nothing to lose - she was walking into a thriving business.”
The Whitford’s opened up their home to the Melbourne ballerina while she settled in to the new city and took over their dance school.
“She lived in our home for two and a half years, until the house was sold,” Mrs Whitford said.
Mrs Whitford soon sent their children to Wagga where her daughter Michelle would study under Edna Busse’s guidance and continue the relationship between the dancer and their family.
“We remained friends with Edna during the following years, alongside many of the former parents and pupils,” she said.
“We are sorry to see the passing of Edna, but we understand she was very well respected among the dancing world and the community at large.”