The Full Story
The 13th of February, 1954, saw the beginning of the Valerie Heston School of Dancing. Started by Mrs Valerie Freeman (nee Heston), the studio began in a humble community hall on Tamar Street in Palmyra. Val had received her Student Teaching diploma, examined by Shirley Brown. Originally to piano and drum accompaniment, the small class on a Saturday morning grew.
The first concert was held that year at the Historical Fremantle Hall. It was a family affair, with Val's Father making all the props for the show and setting up the empty hall, so it was suitable for a performance. Val's mother took care of all the costume making, all the makeup and anything else that needed doing.
Along with this, Val's soon-to-be husband Max would string together flood lights and coloured lights all over the stage, moving from his normal day job as a spare parts manager to becoming an instant lighting technician.
Val was blessed with the birth of Kevin and Kerryl in 1962 and 1965, respectively. At the same time, there were several location changes throughout the Melville area until, in 1971, a significant move was made to open the class in Church of the Holy Cross hall on McLean street and Bicton School hall simultaneously.
Evening classes were introduced around the same time, with all students bringing a plate of food. Every night the class would break temporarily to enjoy a meal and a laugh, and then the classes would resume. Technology began to grow as the class moved from being fully accompanied by piano (and sometimes drums) to reel-to-reel machines. This has now moved from records, cassette tapes, CDs, iPods and the more modern laptop.
With great success in exam grades, state exam results and competitions, the Valerie Heston School of Dance entered the 1980 Competition known as the 'Worlds' whilst it was in Perth. The senior team performed 'Jesus Christ Superstar', Choreographed by Tracy Monson, with the youngest troupe member being Kerryl at age 13. The troupe went on to be placed 2nd.
Kerryl slowly took more responsibility in the studio, starting to choreograph items at 16. In 1981, the studio moved from the small halls (including a branch in Langford where over 100 children turned out on the first day for class) to a more permanent residency on Blaikie Street in Myaree. The studio stayed there until moving across the road to a larger venue in 2002. In 2014 the studio moved to its current location. A brand new state-of-the-art studio in Bibra Lake, which they fitted out as a family.
A highlight of the year is still the end-of-year concert, which is held in Mandurah. The beautiful Mandurah Performing Arts Centre provides the perfect location to display the studio's talent. Students can nominate if they would or would not like to participate in the concert.
Sadly, in 2008 the founder Mrs Valerie Freeman (nee Heston), passed away after a long, hard-fought battle with Cancer. The studio was passed onto Kerryl, her Daughter, to look after. Kerryl, just like her Mother, holds Teaching Degrees and a flare for Choreography. With the support and backing of her family and teaching staff, Kerryl now heads the dance studio.
The studio now teaches many different styles and has highly qualified teachers teaching the CSTD and BAL syllabi. The studio prides itself on allowing every child the opportunity to dance in a professional, disciplined and fun environment.
The one big difference about the Valerie Heston School of Dance is that it is not just a business; it is not just a dance studio but a family.
The Valerie Heston School of Dance legacy is lived on under it's current principal and Val's daughter Kerryl Gill along with her son Jeremy Gill.
Together, they work hard to ensure that students are trained to the best of their ability with industry leading technique and qualifications. They also strive themselves on creating incredible & confident people.
Along with their team of highly qualified teachers, Kerryl and Jeremy live the mantra that "Everybody should be given the opportunity to Dance".
Meet the team