Lija Valija Svalbe was born on the 4th of February 1920, in Riga Latvia, where she studied and attended school.

Lija arrived in Ballarat in 1950. As a professional ballerina, Lija taught classical and modern ballet and national dances to countless young people in Ballarat and surrounding areas. Lija was a contributor to the early development of the Royal South Street Eisteddfods, choreography for the Ballarat Light Opera Company, Begonia Festival Presentations, recitals and BTV6 free-to-air television programs.

Lija’s reasoning for getting involved in the artistic life of Ballarat is simply because she was asked to be and wished to honour the confidence the community had shown her. Numerous students who have trained under Lija have gone on to professional careers in dance either as performers or as teachers themselves.

Lija passed away on the 3rd August 2017 and was cremated.  Her ashes are located in the Latvian Section of our Cemetery Latvian A Section 7 Row 1 Grave 1.