Avril BinzerAveral (Avril) Mavis Binzer (nee Granville) was born in Queensland and, began learning to dance at the age of eight from Patterson Mead in Brisbane. She was one of the first pupils entered for the primary examination with the Royal Academy of Dance in 1935. At the age of 14 her father insisted she attend business school, at the same time she began teaching some students ballet on her veranda. When her father realised she could earn more teaching ballet than as a secretary he encouraged her to pursue her passion of teaching dance.
She ran a successful school, Avril Granville School of Dancing, teaching in Annerley, Coorparoo and Windsor. In 1962, her husband, Robert, was given a job opportunity in Melbourne and the family all made the move down to Victoria. Avril taught for Rex Reid in Melbourne until she opened her own school, the Binzer Schools of Classical and Modern Ballet, in Glen Waverley in 1962.
She was a member of the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) as well as a member of the Society of the Australian Teachers of Dancing (S.A.T.D) of which she was appointed an examiner in 1964. Her second daughter, Nicole, graduated from the Australian Ballet School in 1969 and then continued teaching with her mother until her move to Queensland in 1978. Along with her own daughter, she trained many students who went on to vocational training at the Australian Ballet School and other such institutions.
Many successful students went on to careers in the ballet and commercial industries. Some of the more famous names include: Justine Summers, Dale Baker, Jennifer Tew, Pauline Waters, Debra Rhodes, Tania Lacey, David Coombs, Jacqueline Last (Jackie O), Sophie Monk, Melissa Woodbury and Nigel Long to name a few. In 1983, she was awarded the Citizen of Melbourne Award for her services to dance in the community. In 1984, Avril and her husband decided to retire and join their daughters and their families back in Queensland. Avril was not ready to retire however, and opened her third successful ballet school, Avril Binzer Academy of Dance, on the Gold Coast. During this time she also co-directed Bellder Ballet Theatre, a semi-professional ballet company, with the late Sasha Alexander.
She continued examining and became a founding director for the Australian Teachers of Dancing (A.T.O.D.) in 1991, when it broke away from the S.A.T.D. Finally, Avril sold her Gold Coast school and then moved to Cleveland in 2003 to be closer to her daughters. She was diagnosed with melanoma in 2001, however she continued examining and freelance teaching until 2004 as she believed her great passion for dance and passing on her knowledge to others kept her going through her battle with the cancer. She was still an active member for the A.T.O.D. and continued co-ordinating the new ballet syllabus until a month before her passing.
As patron of the A.T.O.D., one of her visions was to have a ballet syllabi developed in Australia that would provide students with a high level of technical training and be internationally recognised. She also hoped to have a highly respected member of the ballet community take over as patron for the future. Justine Summers has just accepted this position as patron of the A.T.O.D., commencing in 2006. Mrs Binzer would be so proud and thrilled to see her vision continued. Mrs Binzer was known to all her students as tough but fair, strict but loving, all at the same time.
She was greatly loved and respected by all who were taught by her and those who worked with her. She finally lost her battle with cancer and died peacefully on Tuesday 7 June 2005. She is survived by her husband, Robert, daughters, Danielle and Nicole, 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. She will be greatly missed and remembered dearly for her incredible passion for dance.
Hayley Ashfield-Predl is the eldest granddaughter. She graduated with BA (Dance) from QUT in 1994 and continues the dance teaching tradition for a third generation so passionately started by her grandmother.