JUST three months from her 80th birthday, sprightly dance teacher Barbara Lynch still has a packed schedule at her studio. Having spent 62 years mentoring aspiring dancers, Lynch says teaching is much more than just a job for her.
“Teaching dance is my life, I love it,” she says. “As long as my knees keep up I will just keep going.”
Lynch, of Brunswick West, put on her first pair of dancing shoes when she was nine after being mesmerised by a little girl launching into cartwheels and sliding into the splits.
“I went across the street and asked her what she was doing,” Lynch says. “She said she was dancing, so I rushed home and told my mother I wanted to do it. With that, my mother took me to my first dance school in Thornbury and I never missed a lesson.”
Seeing a potential star in her child, Lynch’s mother enrolled her in a city ballet school and found her “the best tap teacher there was”.
Dancing opened an enthralling world for Lynch, who hailed from a sheep station in New South Wales. She took to performing and was introduced to the Royal South Street Society dance competitions in Ballarat, then trained at Melbourne’s Borovansky Ballet to become a dance teacher.
“My mother used to tell me I was born to teach,” says Lynch. “When I kept dancing, mother said if I loved it and wanted to teach then I should hire a hall and a pianist so that’s what I did.”
Lynch launched her teaching career when she was 18, beginning lessons at St Mary’s in Northcote. About 18 months later, student numbers had reached 60 and Lynch staged her first of many concerts, which began at Collingwood Town Hall before moving to Crown Casino.
After years of teaching at various venues, Lynch based her school in Hope Street, Brunswick West, where she continues to teach ballet, jazz and tap to students aged from three to 21.
Lynch says learning from the best gave her the foundations to be a good teacher.
“Martin Rubinstein at Borovansky’s taught me everything I know about ballet,” she says. “He was very strict and I learnt from him not to be too soft. You have to tell people to do it properly or don’t do it at all.”
Looking back at a career spanning six decades, Lynch says the highlight was seeing her talented students win the aggregate award for 17 years in a row at Ballarat’s Royal South Street Society competitions.
“Those competitions were the happiest days of my life. It was such a highlight for me to see my students win and now many of them have gone on to star in theatres and shows across Australia and overseas.”
To find out more about dance classes at the Barbara Lynch Dance Studio, call 9381 1129.