Honorary OAM for Blackwood resident

Noelle Shader has been awarded an honorary OAM. (Damjan Janevski) 411890_04

Eddie Russell

Noelle Shader had tears in her eyes when she found out she would be awarded an honorary Medal of the Order of Australia.

Looking back on an extensive career in ballet, Ms Shader said she was ‘humbled’ that her peers had acknowledged her services.

“I’m honoured – it’s a culmination of the work I’ve put in over the years, the experiences I’ve had, and the opportunities I’ve had,” she said.

“When you are recognised for the work you have done in the past it makes your career worthwhile because you know that you’ve made an impact and helped people. That was always my goal.”

Ms Shader was a dancer in the New York City Ballet before emigrating to Australia in 1981.

“I was a performer in America but since then I’ve been involved on the other side of things, like teaching, coaching, and choreography,” Ms Shader said.

“I’ve had lots of chances to extend from what I started out as … so it’s changed my skill set completely and I’ve had to continue adapting.”

The range of roles Ms Shader has performed include classical dance lecturer, ballet mistress, rehabilitation facilitator, and rehearsal director, to name a few.

Ms Shader said the major milestones and experiences that have led to this award have all taken place in the country she has called home for over 40 years.

“Everything that’s happened to me has happened here – my life is here and I’m very proud to have contributed to the dance industry in Australia,” she said.

“The beautiful thing is I was in the right place at the right time. I don’t think I necessarily would have had these opportunities in the States.”

However, ballet is not Ms Shader’s only life calling.

She moved to the sleepy town of Blackwood in the late ’90s, and is now a committee member for Blackwood and Barry’s Reef Landcare Group.

Ms Shader said her involvement with the environmental organisation is her way of giving back to the land that she has such a strong bond with.

“My love of nature has always drawn me up here so my connection to land care is an extension of that – to care for the country and respect the land we live in,” she said.

While Blackwood is still home, in recent times Ms Shader has been making her way to the Top End to take on exciting new projects.

“I gave up being involved in the dance industry for many years but just recently I’ve continued that journey working with First Nations people,” she said.

Now working with Darwin choreographer Gary Lang for his NT Dance Company, Ms Shader has come back to the industry with renewed purpose.

“I’ve just come back from an eight week tour, sponsored by BlakDance, which went all the way through Western Australia and the Northern Territory.”

Ms Shader said this latest experience is a full circle moment.

“It’s all now combined: my love of country, respect of First Nations people, teaching dance, and wanting to be as helpful as I can be.”