Madonna Murphy, Beverley Prange  and Jessica Harris looking back at 60 years of the Beverley Prange Dance Centre.
Madonna Murphy, Beverley Prange and Jessica Harris looking back at 60 years of the Beverley Prange Dance Centre. Allan Reinikka ROK140918adance2

Dancing and pirouetting their way to major milestone

IT WAS 1958, a young fresh-faced 18 year old Beverley Prange started teaching dance lessons at St Mary's School HalL.

She "never, never, never" imagined that in 60 years time her studio would become well-known dance centre in town and it would be still be operating.

This Sunday, Beverley Prange and her daughter, Madonna Murphy, the current principal and grandaughter, Jessica Harris, an associate teacher, will celebrate the 60 years of the Beverley Prange Dance Centre with a Diamond Jubilee performance at the Pilbeam Theatre.

 

Jessica, Ms Prange's grandaugter.
Jessica, Ms Prange's grandaugter. CHRIS ISON

"I am not one to think that far ahead, it is really hard to get your head around that many years," Founder Ms Prange said.

"There is some people that aren't even that old.

"I just didn't think you would be doing it this long."

Ms Prange has been in Rockhampton for many years and has spent 73 years involved with dance in the city.

Over the years, the dance centre has moved from St Mary's to Saint Barnabas Church of England, Little Musgrave st, William St and then to current studios on Denison and Kent streets.

 

While she officially retired eight years ago, handing the reigns over to her daughter Ms Murphy, Ms Prange is still heavily involved and volunteers with assisting in classes.

What is the most special about this major milestone, is that it has stayed in the family.

"Just the three generations, 60 years and three generations for us to be here," Ms Murphy said.

"It is hard to believe it is 60 years but the name has never changed, you never stop to think about it.

"It is only the last couple of weeks I have realised."

For Ms Murphy, she grew up with her mother running the dance centre. It has been her life and everything she knew.

"I am nearly as old as the dance school, it is a lifetime, it has been my lifetime," she said.

BEVERLEY PRANGE DANCE CENTRE:

Diamond Jubilee: Pilbeam Theatre, Sunday September 16, 2.30. Buy tickets at www.seeitlive.com.au

Studio locations (112 - 114 Kent Street and 158 Denison Street)

The centres provide a variety of dance styles including ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, twinkle toes and tots tap for kindy and pre-schoolers.

Over the decades, the dance centre has seen thousands of thousands of students come through the ranks, more than the teachers can count.

There has been countless dance numbers, numerous competitions across the country and a plethora of sequins, tutus and costumes.

Many students have gone to have great success in the dance world from performing in Moulin Rouge, full time studies in dance, becoming dance teachers themselves and opening their own dance schools.

It was hard to pinpoint one highlight of the 60 years, the mother and daughter duo said, because there has been so many.

But what is the most precious and what will never tire, is the love students have for the art.

"When you do competitions to, you just see that the kids love being up on that stage, that is the most rewarding, it never ages," Ms Murphy said.

"It is not really there is any one big great thing, you just teach these children.... you have them from when they are little, from three to four.... you have them for 13-14 years

"That's why it becomes like a family."

And now what is becoming more than meaningful is the family is seeing generations of other families come through.

As the teachers are going through the generations, so are the students.

Adults that Ms Prange taught when they were young are bringing in their children for Ms Murphy, and grandchildren for Ms Harris to teach.

 

In the early days of the beginnings, ballet was the top dance - but it hasn't changed much.

"Ballet is ballet, what you did is the same as what you do now and everywhere in the world," Ms Prange said.

"Ballet was the most important thing and still is the most important thing."

It was much more simple in those days though, children just did ballet, jazz and tap.

Now there is other genres that have come through with musical theatre and contemporary.

"Children do quite a lot of the genres now," Ms Murphy said.

Parents also weren't as busy and there wasn't the pressures of the outside world there is today with social media.

"In those days, they just did dancing, they didn't do a lot of other things, now they do touch football, netball, speech, drama," Ms Murphy said.

"So the parents are extremely busy with them not only learning dance but all the other activities."

Costuming has come along way with the times as well.

"It is lot easier these days, parents can buy a lot of sequinned costumes where as back in the day, parents would sit there for hundreds of hours, doing all of the sequinning, now we can buy costumes that are fully sequinned," Ms Murphy said.

The foundations that Ms Prange started out with are still very important today and are instilled in all of the students.

"What we started with, we apply the same things now, we haven't changed, the traditions are still the same," she said.

"We like discipline, it 's important they come to class groomed properly, we like to carry the traditions started right back in 1958 up to today, they are on time, we run our classes on time," Ms Murphy said.

65 students are set to perform in the Diamond Jubilee tomorrow in all genres of dance from ballet, contemporary, musical theatre, tap and jazz.

Some past students will also be on stage for a special guest appearance in honour of the milestone.

A reunion is also being held tonight at The Stirling for past students and families.



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