Marie Walton-Mahon in December 2010 when she retired.THIS year marks 40 years since a former ballerina started up a dance studio that would go on to teach tens of thousands of students in the Hunter.
So it is expected to be a big affair in July when a reunion is held for Marie Walton-Mahon to celebrate the milestone.
Ms Walton-Mahon was a professional dancer with Les Ballet de Marseilles in France when her father suffered a heart attack and became very ill.
She returned to Newcastle and set up the Marie Walton-Mahon Dance Academy – and the rest is history.
In 2010, after 36 years, she left her role as artistic director of the Lambton academy, which continues to operate in her name.
She has since gone on to create a series of training DVDs along with other achievements.
‘‘I’m very proud the school lives on in my name as a guest teacher and consultant,’’ she said.
‘‘On June 17, 1974, we had six students – I never dreamed it would go on to become what it did.’’
Ms Walton-Mahon said it would be very special to catch up with all of her students at the reunion.
A number have gone on to train as international ballet stars or become members of the Australian Ballet Company.
Recently, one Ms Walton-Mahon’s former students, Daniel Roberge, sent a photo of himself standing with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
Marie Walton-Mahon in December 2010 when she retired.
An apprentice with The Washington Ballet, he had danced at the White House.
The photo was accompanied with the message ‘‘wouldn’t be here without you’’.
Ms Walton-Mahon said she loved teaching and helping students over the years.
‘‘I love seeing the lights turn on in students’ eyes and seeing their confidence grow,’’ she said.
The Marie Walton-Mahon reunion is being held on July 19.Register for the reunion with Elise Frawley 0419 632 100
Join the Facebook group‘‘Marie Walton-Mahon – celebrating 40 years’’
Get tickets here