Janice Breen Performance Studio on stage in the 2007 Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Sydney Eisteddfod staff and volunteers are saddened to learn of the recent death of dancer and teacher Janice Breen OAM.
When Sydney Eisteddfod emerged from its wartime recess in 1946, Janice collected her first gold medal in Song and Dance event for children aged seven years and under. Over the next decade she competed every year, and when she gave her final performance 1956, she had amassed a collection of 36 Sydney Eisteddfod medals, most of them gold, in tap, song and dance events.
In the years that followed, Janice enjoyed a hugely successful career as a dancer and teacher. She never forgot the value of her own Sydney Eisteddfod experiences. She was soon encouraging her students to follow her path and many of them not only succeeded in-group events, but also as solo performers.
In 1981, Janice returned to Sydney Eisteddfod as a teacher and choreographer with a sensational group known as the Breen Machine. In 1984, she began presenting her teams as the Janice Breen Dancers, the mid-eighties, they performed as the Janice Breen School of Dance and from the 1990’s onwards, and they became known as members of the Janice Breen Performing Arts Studio.
Her groups made their final appearance under the Janice Breen Performing Arts Studio banner in 2007, 61 years after Janice made her first appearance on its stages. Janice received an OAM for her services to dance and later continued her good work by encouraging older people to dance and have fun at Senior’s Week showings other occasions.
Sydney Eisteddfod volunteer Kristina Beaton remembers Janice very fondly as a friend and true inspiration. She has shared the following words on her memory of Janice...
"I first met Janice Breen in the early seventies, when my sisters and I attended Saturday Dance Classes with Colleen Fitzgerald , who was a good friend of Janice. The Annual Janice Breen Christmas Concert for many years thereafter was a must for my Family.
Janice was very welcoming to us and befriended my Mother. We crossed paths many times with Janice at Shows, Eisteddfods and the like.
I have fond memories of serving Janice and her team of seamstresses shopping for Costume Fabrics, whilst I was working in the Fabric Industry.
Jump to 1988 , my Sister Rosemary, was a Student at one of Janice's Studios and was in awe of the dedication shown by Janice to all her students. Janice instilled the love of Song, Dance and Showmanship to all her students who walked through the doors of her Studios.
On a warm November night in 2015, I had the pleasure of being in the Audience for the Concert celebrating 50 Magical Years of Janice Breen Performance Studios. At the conclusion of this Concert Janice made a speech , which received a standing ovation for over eight minutes. The image of the love of Janice shown by everyone in that room on that night will remain with me for a long time."
Janice will be mourned and missed by Sydney Eisteddfod staff and all those who knew or studied with her in Sydney dance circles.