I began taking ballet classes (run by Walsall Academy) at the Co-operative rooms, Bridge Street, Walsall in 1976 with Miss Brevitt (Gail) as my teacher and dear Mrs Bates playing the piano. My love for dancing soon became clear especially after a visit one day from Miss Millard who told me I was “very good” and the obvious next step was to go to the school itself and from 1978 onwards Walsall Academy of Dance played a huge part in my life.

I danced on ”Kid’s World”, “Tiswas” where I even made it onto the official video clip of “The Bucket performed several times a day for a week at the Boat Show at the NEC  in 1981 and the following year, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile” again as part of a professional fashion show  at the NEC.

So many fond memories of shows and festivals in the 1980s. We had some awesome group dances – the “Pink Ballet”, “Can-Can” and “American Football”. As part of a successful team I remember we all had well-choreographed dances and original character dances: My own favorites being “The Rake “ from the Rake’s Progress and “Giselle”. I was runner up in the West Midlands Senior Ballet Championships in 1983 and won 3rd place the following year. With Rachel Brittain (Née Ford), my duet partner, we also had some fabulous festival dances; “The Spider & the Fly” and “The black screen and white gloves” to name but two. While people move on and move away I can still count myself blessed by friendships made during this period.

I worked as a teacher at Walsall Academy from 1984-1986,This was  very convenient as a student at Queen Mary’s  I could go straight from school to the dance school to teach the babies, primary and grade classes. I subsequently became an IDTA Associate.

Despite not continuing a professional career in dancing, I have never stopped appreciating dancing. Living in Paris I have the possibility to see some amazing productions, and attend not only ballet classes, but trying my hand at many styles of dance in the Marais Dance Centre. I attended two Dance Movement Therapy summer schools at the Laban Centre in London and have the opportunity here in Paris to pursue this area further. I have been teaching  English at the Université de Paris Sud for nearly 20 years and also teach  primary school children at the school my sons attend. Singing and dancing are a great vehicle for English and I know that this is their and my favourite part of the class.

Writing a testimonial like this, has allowed me to reflect on a period of my life that made me who I am today. Miss Millard was such an inspiring teacher, she knew how to get the best out of each of us, not just technically but emotionally too.

I am thrilled to be able to join the celebrations of 50 years of Walsall Academy of Dance and long may the success of the school continue.