Danc­ing up a storm for lo­cals

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

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.

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