I started dancing age 3. My mother played piano on a Saturday night for local folks to do ballroom dancing. I have memories of standing on my father’s feet to learn the Foxtrot and Quickstep. I was taught to play the piano – not very well and attended ballet classes as a child. To be able to read music has been a valuable skill throughout my life. Working with lovely bands like Green Ginger and the Fortuna Trio have been a pleasure.
I started school aged 3 because I kept running off to the playground to be with other village children and my mother got fed up fetching me home. I sang in the local church choir from the age of 7. At 11 I went to a marvellous technical grammar school where we had a dance club after school, pupils and teachers attended. During the winter months we were taught dance in PE lessons and being a mixed school, we did the Cha Cha and country dances with the boys! By 15 the village youth club had invited the EFFSS local rep to teach us country dancing. I was teaching heritage dance forms by 16 and was chair of the county EFDSS committee at 21. I eventually gained qualifications in 8 GCSEs, 3 A levels in History, English and Sociology, a first degree in History, a Master’s degree in Cultural Traditions that was based around history, the English language and the music and heritage dances of England. I also have a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) so am a fully qualified schoolteacher. I have taught Primary, Secondary and adult Return to Learn students for the Open University. I enjoy passing on knowledge.
I joined the then Dolmetsch Historical Dance Soc. and briefly served on their committee as well as the Early Dance Circle but quickly realised, I’m not really a committee person. I taught country dance at college, attended early dance classes given by Anne Daye and Chris and Ellis Rogers. I danced in Chris and Ellis’s Display team for 30 years, often taking over when they were unable to be there. For 14 years I was the Education and Teacher Training Manager for the English Folk Dance and Song Society. I taught around 5 thousand student teachers and trained teachers during that period as to how they could teach heritage style dance to children without putting them off for life. I wrote training manuals on Country, Longsword, Maypole, Victorian Dance and children’s singing games. Somewhere along the way I found a passion for Irish Set dancing and taught at Hammersmith Irish centre for many years. I also love Cajun dance and added that tradition to my repertoire. It’s links to the Allemande Couple dance of the mid 1700s is irrefutable and fascinating.
For several years I taught Regency dance at the balls arranged for the Jane Austen festival in Bath and all-around England. I also specialise in Georgian dances working in Bath and many other places. I have been invited to teach dance in Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, Malta, Ireland and Norway. I have also been the MC at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 occasions for the Central Council of Physical Recreation’s Dance and Movement festivals. My friends are scattered all around the world. Currently because of media productions like Pride and Prejudice, Bridgerton and Sanditon everyone wants Regency dance so thank goodness Mrs Bennet’s Ballroom is thriving in London and working with Libby Curzon over the last few years has been very rewarding.
I never teach a dance unless I have seen the original source material and have interpreted the movements for myself. We are learning more every few years about how the dance was done in past times, and we need to keep up with the latest knowledge. I am currently trying to get an historical dance group going in Hastings and this is proving problematic mostly because of the covid pandemic but I am ever hopeful. I enjoy working with couples wanting to choreograph a wedding dance or help families celebrate special times in their lives with Regency type country dancing. With professional help I make all my own costumes. I can’t imagine not dancing.