Forty-four years of teaching dance to aspiring ballerinas will come to an end this weekend for Latrobe Valley dance teacher Julie Ryan.
As her pupils take to the stage Julie will take her final bow as head of Julie Ryan Dancers.
It’s a decision that didn’t come lightly for Julie, although with daughter Melanie Curry set to take the reins of the company, she knows it’s in good hands.
“I just think it’s time for me to take a step back,” Julie said.
“(But the company is in) the best hands – I can see it going from strength to strength now.
“We’ve got wonderful staff with many, many years of experience.”
Julie opened her first dance school at the age of 16 in Traralgon before opening additional schools in Morwell and Moe, which is now located in Newborough.
She also had studios in Heyfield and Leongatha, which are now run by former students.
Dance is Julie’s life and she admits this past week had been an emotional rollercoaster.
“I’ve never had another job so to speak,” she said.
“It’ll be an emotional day, Sunday (her final bow).
“Even when I think of it I get teary but it’s in wonderful hands and I can only see it getting bigger and better.”
Teaching Latrobe Valley dance students for so long means Julie has seen her students grow, develop and even have children of their own.
“Every time I watch the older girls I have trained since they were three and four (I get emotional),” she said.
Career highlights include seeing the school grow to become a success and watching her students dance on Broadway earlier in the year.
“When I see some of the students go onto professional lines in the dance world with their own ballet schools that are very successful (I am very proud),” Julie said.
“But then again it’s lovely to see the child who comes to dance just for the love of it.
“It’s been really wonderful; I am so blessed to do something that is my passion for a job.”
While she’s “hanging up the booties” so to speak, Julie said she would still be a regular at the company’s studios.
“I’ll still be around if the new boss will have me,” she said.
For Julie’s final concert three shows are scheduled, with students performing one of the school’s Broadway numbers during the Saturday and Sunday performances.
The Julie Ryan Dancers Concert Weekend takes place tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday at Lowanna College Auditorium, Newborough.
Curtains open 7pm tomorrow and 1pm Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are available at the door; $18 for adults and $12 for pensioners and students.
All are welcome.