Colin Peasley first agreed to do ballet under sufferance with two conditions: that it was a private lesson and he didn't have to wear tights.
More than 50 years later, Peasley, 77, is leaving the Australian Ballet as its longest-serving member, working as a principal dancer, educator and artist in residence at the company he founded in 1962.
Peasley is proud of the changes in the Australian dance scene, where male artists were once looked at askance to children now as young as 10 devoting a life to the artform.
"In my day nobody started that young to do dance, no males, little girls did, they did their little tap in the local hall," Peasley told AAP on Tuesday.
Peasley discovered the joy of dancing when he partnered his sister in her ballroom dancing debut, after her boyfriend refused to.
But it was at 21 that he was introduced to ballet after joining a jazz class requiring compulsory ballet.
"I said no thank you, went back to do my tap class opposite," he said, before acceding.
"I said I'll do it on two conditions. One is that it is private lesson and I don't have to wear tights."
It was beginning of a career spanning 56 ballets, 32 international tours and 6406 shows.
Peasley will take his final bow in Swan Lake, his most-performed ballet.
The secret to his longevity, after 50 years at the company, coinciding with its golden anniversary, is being in a job he loves surrounded by young people.
"The job has never been like a job," he said.
"Some people have jobs where you get up in the morning where you think I wish I didn't have to go in today.
"That's never happened (to me)."
But it's not curtains yet for Peasley.
"Oh honey it will be the last performance on the stage but you should see me at the shops!" he laughs.