AFTER 24 years teaching dance in the Shoalhaven and over 20 in Sydney before that, well-known local dance teacher Meryl Dalton-Papalos has retired.
The Greenwell Point local has given a number of local dance teachers in the area their start and left a legacy across much of the Shoalhaven.
She said she was dedicated to training dancers to the best of their abilities.
“That’s not just those who went on to have dance careers but also those who gained confidence or improved posture, motor skills and social skills.”
She said her greatest thrill was having former students bring their own children back to be taught by her.
Ms Dalton-Papalos moved to Greenwell Point in 1990 from Sydney having started Sapphire Dance Academy.
By the following year she had expanded the studio to Culburra Beach and a year later opened a branch in Nowra.
In 1997 she opened a studio in South Nowra, training students in all aspects of dance and theatre.
Although she sold this studio in 2000, Ms Dalton-Papalos continued teaching from her home.
In 2004 she opened Le Pointe Dance Academy in Greenwell Point at the request of many parents, who wanted an activity for their children.
This led to her becoming the dance teacher with Shoalhaven Music and Performing Arts Studio in Nowra.
In 2006 she moved the studio to Bomaderry Plaza and together with her two daughters enjoyed another nine years of teaching.
She was the driving force behind having dance included in the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod and was convenor for many years.
Ms Dalton-Papalos has taught many local, state, national and international champions throughout her career.
The studios she has set up have been passed on to teachers who were all students of hers over the last 24 years.
Former student Sarah Smith has taken over Ms Dalton-Papalos’s Culburra Beach studio.
“Meryl has been my dance teacher my whole life,” she said.
“She has been the biggest influence in my whole dance career. She’s taught me everything I know.”
Tanya Marchiori has taken the reins of the Bomaderry studio.
“Being a dance teacher is such a giving job. Meryl gave up her time for kids. I want to acknowledge her for all the time she’s given and the memories,” she said.
Now that she has retired from teaching, Ms Dalton-Papalos said she wouldn’t be leaving the industry altogether.
“I’ve been doing a lot of adjudicating, so I’m going to get more into that,” she said.
“And whatever else comes my way. I’m not ready to knit yet.”