Owner dancing as venture opens


Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson and  Ellen Kay.
Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson and Ellen Kay.

The building, located on the corner of Cockburn and Rockingham roads in Hamilton Hill, has been vacant for some time, with numerous development proposals failing to come to fruition.

Current owner Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson said she could not be more pleased after opening the doors of Swan River Ballet to excited students last week.

The launch had been more than a year in the making.

“It’s wonderful,” she said.

“It’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to feel like it’s a home, not a cold environment. I feel like we’ve done that.”

After running a successful dance school in Karratha, she said the building was the perfect setting for a new metro-based studio. The school will run a full-time program, as well as Certificate II and Certificate III dance.

“We’re also looking into the possibility of doing a diploma of dance,” she said.

“All going well we’ll be doing those this year.”

The job to breathe new life into the building was no easy task.

But despite describing it as “the most derelict place” she had seen in a long time, Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson said the potential was undeniable.

“We want to be here for a long time and you’ve got to take a risk with things you’re passionate about,” she said.

Work to restore the building is not yet complete; dust and noise has meant the front facade will not be finished until the school holidays.