David McAllister was 10 and had already been dancing for six years when he saw the Australian Ballet for the first time at His Majesty's Theatre.
All he had ever wanted to do since that matinee performance of Cinderella in 1973 was to join the national company.
At 17, McAllister left Perth for the Australian Ballet School, was recruited into the company's ranks in 1983 and was elevated to principal dancer in 1989.
In 2001, he took over as artistic director, the first of the company's seven bosses to have been a total product of the AB system.
Yesterday, McAllister was honoured for his 30 years with the company when dancers, staff and board members threw a surprise party at its Melbourne headquarters.
McAllister has been at the helm for 12 years and recently renewed his contract until 2017.
"I still can't quite believe it has been 30 years," said McAllister, who turns 50 next month.
"I thought for a moment that that was probably what they were doing, that this was going to be a birthday present."
The company last appeared Perth in 2012 with Romeo and Juliet and will send its junior Dancers Company west for a regional tour next year.
"We are committed to doing more regular touring to Perth and are now looking at the 2015 season," McAllister said. "We hope we can find some dates (at the Crown Theatre) at Burswood.
"We have the new production of Cinderella which has just premiered here and been a big success that we would love to bring over.
"WA Ballet has a great Cinderella as well so we want to make sure we don't cross over that.
"Obviously being a Perth person I do want the company to be seen in Perth but I want to do it in the best circumstances for the local company as well."
AB company chairman Jim Cousins said McAllister contribution to the Australian dance community could not be understated.
"He has a deep love of the art form and understands its traditions but is always looking for ways to keep ballet relevant to today's audience," Mr Cousins said.
"He's also a fantastic leader and well respected in the arts and dance community, both here and internationally. I don't think you could find someone who has a bad word to say about him, and he remains as enthusiastic and passionate about the company and dance as he was 30 years ago, which is just remarkable."