Bev Palmer Performing Arts has evolved from a rich history of more than 55 years in Melbourne’s theatrical dance scene. Building on expertise in theatrical tap, jazz and classical styles, BPPA now offers a complete performing arts program of classes for students at all levels and all ages.
At BPPA we are committed to developing and enhancing our students’ singing, dancing and acting skills via private or group tuition with highly trained teachers who have practical industry experience. We are determined to provide the environment that will ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their potential, whether for their own personal development or as a stepping stone into the industry.
Where it all began…
In 1963 Bev Palmer opened her own dance school in a little hall in Briar Hill with a handful of students. At the time, Bev was performing professionally and in addition teaching at the school two days a week. On her own and with no technical equipment, Bev played piano and taught dance in a juggling act that would have been a wonder to behold. Within a month, word got around and the school grew to around 40 students who received lessons from Bev in tap, jazz and ballet.
Bev always encouraged her students to enter dance competitions. The first competitions she entered her students into were in Eltham. With only a few schools entering students, Bev’s students dominated these small competitions. Bev decided her students needed more competition and as a small fish in a big pond decided to enter the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dance (CSTD) competitions with two under 12 troupes – a song and tap troupe and a tap trope. To say the least, these students were rehearsed to the eyeballs but it was no mean feat to pull off wins with these first two troupes, signalling to other well established schools that the Bev Palmer Dancers had arrived.
Since then, the Bev Palmer Dancers have moved premises a few times until settling in Ivanhoe operating out of a large church hall and have entered and been successful in the CSTD and Royal South Street competitions winning the teacher’s aggregate award on several occasions.
As a one-woman show, Bev was the choreographer, costume designer, stage manager, production designer and everything else.
Right from the outset, Bev was committed to ensuring that her students’ efforts were presented at an annual concert which have been staged at various venues from the Heidelberg Town Hall in the early days when they were always a sell out to larger, more prestigious city theatres such as the Princess Theatre where she had performed as a child in pantomimes.
Bev’s daughter Karen was always at her side taking lessons and helping around the school. At the age of 15, Karen was welcomed on board as a choreographer of concert items. Karen went on to establish herself as a professional performer in her own right whilst helping out at the school whenever she was available. Eventually Karen’s involvement in the school evolved into a full time teaching role in the early 90s.
Over the past few years the school has welcomed Nathan Pinnell as a part time teacher. Nathan developed his craft with Bev and Karen and has a highly successful professional career in musical theatre both in Australia and internationally. With the introduced of BPPA, Nathan is now on board as a full time teacher.
The school has seen many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained unchanged is our dedication to providing all students with the opportunity to craft their skills via high quality teaching in a family environment. The move to widen our offering to cover a full range of performing arts classes with brand new purpose built facilities there will be more opportunities for young people to fulfill their dreams to sing, act and dance whilst building life long friendships.