Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts marks 50 great years
Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts, which is celebrating its 50th birthday, is a place where you find your heart, a home and your confidence.
Having been involved with the school for over 25 years it always feels like home when setting foot inside 16 Upper John Street.
The photographs on the walls reminding you of past shows where you were given the chance to let your soul free and dance under the spotlight, the sounds of infectious laughter in the dressing room, a reminder of where friendships began and still remain.
And once you step inside the studio the adrenaline kicks in, of thoughts of your plies at the barre, chênes turns down the studio and high-energy dance routines that would be a match to the West End or Broadway.
First opened in 1965, by Ann O'Leary, who in any student's eyes is a lady full of warmth, encouragement and grace.
She is the woman that will always be in the memory of any child starting their first ballet class in Wexford.
You are taught to stand up tall like a prince or princess, shoulders back, point your toes and be prepared to meet 'Freddie the Penguin,' 'The Tooth Fairy,' 'The Clown' or whatever exciting character that would come out of the 'Magic Box' on the day.
No matter what kind of a day you were having you left your class feeling you were someone very special.
Above all you were taught discipline which I always believe has stood to any student that has been a pupil of the Wexford School of Ballet and Performing Arts.
As the years go by and you get older, you move on to your next class and your new teacher Suzanne O' Leary, daughter of Ann who began teaching at the school in 1986.
In my eyes she is one of Ireland's most talented choreographers, directors and producers.
When it comes to stage and putting shows together she creates masterpieces!
A highly qualified teacher of Ballet and Modern Dance, Suzanne encouraged me and every other student to work hard, stay focused and to enjoy every step of dancing with the school.
She will always recognise potential and talent and give you the confidence and facilitate every opportunity to make you the best dancer, singer or actor that you can be.
Her love of dance and musical theatre has passed on to her students, who have their own success stories in dancing with The English National Ballet, Kirov School in Moscow, Rambert Ballet, Doreen Bird, Laban London, some have opened their own schools of dance and some even becoming examiners in dance.
As the school expanded Suzanne and Anne welcomed many past pupils back to teach with the school and today highly trained teachers such as Emma Molloy and Sinead Reck are there to guide and educate their pupils in Ballet and Modern Dance.
The school has always been about giving students the opportunity to develop and strengthen their technique and confidence and now they also offer their students singing lessons under the guidance of Yvette Walsh, her warmth and encouragement have proved to be a huge success with the students.
As a past pupil, I believe that you are given every opportunity to perform to your highest ability, and now as I watch my daughter Sara start her journey with the WSBPA, I know that she will also find her love for stage, great friends, and a confidence that will guide her for the rest of her life.
I once read that 'A dance teacher helps their students find the song in their heart, the beat in their feet and a passion for life' - I know I certainly found mine!