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Ballet back on solid footing

Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
Little ballerinas Evelyn Tenney, Hannah McKenzie, Chloe Reynolds and Sophia Gifford at their first class for 2020.Picture: Kellie Balaam
Camera IconLittle ballerinas Evelyn Tenney, Hannah McKenzie, Chloe Reynolds and Sophia Gifford at their first class for 2020.Picture: Kellie Balaam

Hazel Meeres has been teaching ballet at Narrogin Ballet School for 33 years.

Unfortunately, the school’s future was looking grim when her student numbers dropped from 50 in 2018 to just 10 last year.

However, with 17 students enrolled for the new year, the ballet enthusiast said it had been a delightful start.

Mrs Meeres completed her dance training in Sydney and received her advanced certificate with the Royal Academy of Dance in 1968.

Her face lit up when she explained her love for the art and her enjoyment of teaching.

“I love the music ... dancing to the music and the beautiful little faces that look so excited for coming to ballet,” she said.

Narrogin Ballet School teacher Hazel Meeres with students Evelyn Tenney, Hannah McKenzie, Chloe Reynolds and Sophia Gifford.
Camera IconNarrogin Ballet School teacher Hazel Meeres with students Evelyn Tenney, Hannah McKenzie, Chloe Reynolds and Sophia Gifford.

Mrs Meeres has seen many generations of families pass through the Lutheran church which hosts the ballet studio.

“It’s lovely to see families come through, I’ve known many of the mums as youngsters and now they bring their children to ballet,” she said.

She said four of her former students had become ballet teachers and two were professional dancers including a male.

Mrs Meeres said the 2018 Swan Lake concert was the biggest event she had seen the school produce.

“I had 50 students from the Brookton, Wickepin and Narrogin schools and it was just incredible,” she said.

But last year the Narrogin Ballet School only had about 10 students.

Mrs Meeres considered closing the classes for 2020.

“Some girls might not continue in the future and it would be a shame to lose the Narrogin Ballet School,” she said.

“I took over from someone else, who took over from someone else, so it’s been around for many years.”

Mulberry ballet dancer Olivia Claude with her mother Bryana Claude.Picture: Kellie Balaam/Narrogin Observer
Camera IconMulberry ballet dancer Olivia Claude with her mother Bryana Claude.Picture: Kellie Balaam/Narrogin Observer

The teacher travels from her home in Brookton every Thursday for the classes, where she teaches students from the age of three.

The number of students needs to be viable to make her trip worthwhile since she also bears the hire cost of the church.

“The numbers have dropped, so we’ll see how we go this year but I do have some ideas for the future,” Mrs Meeres said.

“It’s sometimes difficult to find teachers in the country. Katanning went a few years without a teacher and it’s possible it may happen here.”

The ballet mums have created a Facebook page for the school to help Mrs Meeres with the enrolments and running of the school.

During October each year, the dancers perform at the Narrogin Agriculture Show.

Narrogin mother Bryana Claude was taught by Mrs Meeres.

“I did a few lessons with Mrs Meeres when I was about aged six, and I can still remember the classes just how they are now, the music, the Lutheran church, everything exactly,” she said.

“Mrs Meeres is like a saint to the girls. She is very patient, kind and doesn’t push them into doing anything they don’t want to.”

Mrs Claude’s daughter Olivia is also being taught by Mrs Meeres.

“She’s very confident and is always looking at herself in the mirror, she’s always excited to come to ballet class,” she said.

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