Dancing up a storm for locals
With a grant from Moira Shire Council, Peter and Xing Garner will pass on their skills at the old-time dance at Yarroweyah Memorial Hall on Friday, September 9.
Dance teacher Peter Garner said he was surprised to find he had strong connections with Yarroweyah and district.
‘‘My family have a long and strong connection which only became apparent to me when I began focusing on the subject,’’ Mr Garner said.
‘‘My grandparents, Harry and Janet Garner, owned a farm on the corner of the Murray Valley Hwy and Singapore Rd,’’ he said.
‘‘My father grew up on the farm, which I remember visiting for family occasions.
‘‘In fact, my grandfather’s name is on the plaque at the front of the hall as a returned soldier.
‘‘He was also a founding member of the Murray Goulburn milk factory.
‘‘I remember being taken to the Yarroweyah hall for dances and other family occasions.’’
Mr Garner was born at Cobram Hospital and his family lived in Numurkah where he attended St Joseph’s Primary School.
Later the family moved to a dairy farm at Mywee and he attended Mywee Primary School.
‘‘I was married previously and we had six children,’’ Mr Garner said.
‘‘All of my children became involved in dancing from a young age and within a short time, they tried competitive dancing which they all excelled at.
‘‘As time moved on, and it became very clear that they had a future in dancesport, I saw the need for a reliable training facility for my children and others.
‘‘So I decided to make a bold move, leasing a large building in Shepparton and establishing a dance floor.
‘‘I employed dance teachers and professional coaches and we commenced dance classes in 1999 under the banner of Excell Dance Centre — with Excell being the shortening of ‘excellence’.
‘‘I personally attended all dance classes as a student and to my surprise, picked up the steps, routines and technique with relative ease.’’
Mr Garner said he was encouraged by his instructors at the time to take a special interest in teaching.
‘‘While I hadn’t previously had any conscious thoughts of teaching, the suggestion actually caused me to move forward and in a very positive manner,’’ he said.
‘‘I went on to take private lessons, study and to take exams in both coaching and adjudicating.
‘‘I passed all examinations and commenced coaching other up-and-coming competitors and was also invited to judge on to numerous panels around Victoria and NSW.
‘‘Fast forward and four of my children moved away from dancing as a sport, while my eldest daughter Amanda went on to win Dancing With The Stars.
‘‘She is now teaching and performing with her husband, Sebastian, as the feature ballroom couple on a cruise liner.
‘‘My third son Jeremy and his wife joined the famous stage show Burn The Floor and went on to travel the world performing in many venues, including the East End in London and Broadway in New York.
‘‘Jeremy and Sarah now own a dance studio in Melbourne.’’
Mr Garner and his new wife Xing have been married for two years, after meeting some five years ago when he needed a business contact in China to establish a dance shoe supplier.
‘‘We started dancing back then and now teach together and dance many styles including modern ballroom, Latin American, new vogue/old time, rock ’n’ roll and salsa,’’ he said.
‘‘I continue to coach all levels including social, competitive, bridal and debutante sets and I am also invited onto numerous judging panels every year, which I still enjoy being involved in.’’
Dancing king and queen: Shepparton dance teacher Peter Garner (who was born in Cobram) and his wife, Xing, will share their knowledge in Yarroweyah on Friday night.