Yvonne grew up in Tauranga where she was taught by Mrs Undine Clarke, one of the pioneering teachers of dance in New Zealand.
At age 15 she was awarded a scholarship to attend The New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington, directed by Dorothy Daniels, Philip Chatfield and Rowena Jackson. She gained her Solo Seal (the highest Royal Academy of Dance qualification) and graduated with an Honours Prize and a contract with the New Zealand Ballet Company. She married fellow dancer Peter Edwards whom she met at the ballet barre!
Yvonne quickly became a soloist then a Principal Dancer, dancing almost every leading role in the repertoire (favourites Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Giselle) over many years of travelling the length and breadth of NZ and overseas with the company. Yvonne and Peter were awarded an Arts Council Government grant, and spent some time in the USA and Canada studying classical and contemporary dance companies and methodologies.
Yvonne became a regular dancing partner of Jon Trimmer and during her performing career worked with some of the worlds best teachers and choreographers.
After Yvonne and Peter received long service silver medals from the company, Yvonne was appointed Tutor of Repertoire and Pointe at the NZSD. This kindled her passion for teaching and eventually returned to Tauranga to raise a family and open the Yvonne Edwards School of Dance. As well as her own ballet productions Yvonne, like her teacher, choreographed many shows for the Tauranga Operatic Society with Grease, South Pacific and Annie being her favourites.
Yvonne and Peter also opened The Bay of Plenty Academy of Performing Arts which was one of the very first NZQA Accreditted Tertiary Traiing Schools in NZ. They spent some time in the UK and Europe studying with Dance and Drama companies bringing back a European influence to their style of teaching. Many of their ex-students have careers in dance and drama or related theatre arts.
The Yvonne Edwards School of Dance is now long established with an excellent reputation. After starting a branch at Bethlehem College, Yvonne now runs her academy based at the Bethlehem Hall.
Yvonne continues to be driven by her passion for dance and from her unique position is keen to impart her years of experience to the next generation.
Yvonne’s Examinations/Qualifications are as follows
British Ballet Organisation: Early Grades
Royal Academy of Dance: Early Grades all achieved with Honours
RAD: Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced, Solo Seal
ISTD: Early Greek and Spanish
ISTD: National/Character, Elementary: Student Teacher
ISTD: Ballet Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced (Honours)
NZ School of Dance: Dance Performance Diploma (2yrs)
NZSD: Teacher Training Course (1yr)
RAD: Registered Teacher ARAD
NZA Modern Dance: Registered Teacher
REPS: Registered Group Exercise Professional (Pilates)
Yvonne also holds Life Teaching Member Status of The Royal Academy of Dance.
Peter grew up in Wanganui and took up dancing after he completed his apprenticeship with a Sheetmetal and Plumbing Firm. His teacher was well known RAD dance teacher and examiner, Doreen Shaw. Peter’s cousin, Valerie Whyman, was one of the Poul Gnatts original New Zealand Ballet Company founding members. That and Rudolf Nureyevs defection to the west inspired him to pursue a dancing career, not that popular then for a male from Wanganui!
He was accepted into the NZ Ballet Company and toured with them for a while before deciding to retrain at the New Zealand School of Dance. He met Yvonne and they joined the company rising throught the ranks to become Principal Dancers. After many years with the company he was awarded a Service Medal and is delighted to be featured in the Royal NZ Ballet’s archival publication, The New Zealand Ballet: The First 25 Years.
After moving to Tauranga and working for an engineering firm, Peter then Assistant Financial Manager of The Tauranga District Museum, was approached to set up an Access training programme in th Performing Arts. This success led to the opening of The Bay of Plenty Academy of Performing Arts which was one of the very first registered and accredited NZQA Tertiary Academies of teaching dance, drama, and related theme arts.
So many of Peter’s former students now have careers in the arts.Many have had leading parts in Shortland Street, one became the director of Wellington’s Taki Rua Theatre Company,some have been in Melbourne in top theatrical musicals,some are in dance companies and a few have become dance or theatre teachers or directors.
Always one for a challenge, Peter then became a Chef and was the driving force behind The Meditteraneo Café, Tauranga for 6 years. His innovative Roast Pumpkin Salad was published by Cuisine magazine and copied in nearly every café in town (still is).
As well as working alongside Yvonne and her school, Peter developed a passion for road cycling and won a silver medal at the Masters Games in Hamilton. He then decided to turn this passion into employment and is a Personal Performance Coach, Dietry Advisor and former Spin Cycling Instructor.
Peter Continues to teach dance and with the combination of his practical engineering skills, artistic skills, and knowledge of dance theatre he has become an invaluable aid for all of the stage shows he and Yvonne produce.