These first stories were collected during conversations about the project in spring and summer 2021
Rebecca Willis and Neil Higginson - Dance and Memory
Becky and Neil are both members of Jigsaw Performance Company (Dancefest’s inclusive performance company based in Hereford). Here they talk to Michele (Dancefest’s Team Leader for Access & Inclusion) and Allison, Becky’s carer.
Cat O’Connell - Dance and Choices
Cat joined Dancefest in her teens and through it was empowered to follow dance to degree level, before returning to her roots where she continues to teach and perform both for the organisation and as a freelance artist, working across the community.
Jenny Manning - Dance and Re-birth
Jenny is long-time devotee of dance and an active participant in one of Dancefest’s Chance to Dance groups based in Bromsgrove.
Juliet Wright - Dance and Escape
Juliet “loves, loves, loves” to dance and when she’s not dancing freely to whatever is playing on the loud-speakers in deserted shopping centres, she regularly attends Chance to Dance classes.
Marie Oldaker - Dance and Serendipity
Marie is a creative dance maker-practitioner and arts project coordinator who works regularly with Dancefest in a freelance capacity. She has a long history with Dancefest and is very proud to share the organisation’s belief that access for all, to high quality dance experiences, has a genuinely positive impact on people’s lives.
Sheila Dodwell - Dance and Expression
Sheila is a performer and participant with an undeniable passion for dance spanning the full thirty years of Dancefest’s history and beyond. She has taken part in countless performances, workshops and events over the years and is a member of the Chance to Dance Company.
Rob Ferguson - Dance and Influences
Rob grew up attending Dancefest classes and performing with DFY (Dancefest’s Youth Company). Here, his emerging interest in choreography saw him take part in a mentorship scheme for aspiring young choreographers, who were given a platform to create, rehearse, receive professional feedback and work towards a performance of their work. Rob was accepted at the Laban-Trinity Conservatoire where he received his B.A. in Dance several years ago and is now managing the BLOCH dance shop in London.
Vicky Harrison - Dance and Belonging
Vicky is a graduate in dance from the University of Roehampton, now living and working in London but with her roots firmly set in Worcester. She attended classes and performed with Dancefest from an early age and this beautiful piece of prose describes one of her last performances before leaving the city to study for her dance degree.
These stories were sent in by dancers in summer 2020, as part of a creative challenge during lockdown
I grew in the rural village of Alveley, Shropshire. Dance classes at the village hall started up when I was 9. My friends joined so I thought I'd go along. I loved music so I thought I'd give it a go and I've never stopped.
My Dance Story By Alexandra Pearce
The earliest memory I have from dancing is when I was 3 years old. I loved Strictly Come Dancing and would always try and imitate the moves I saw. During one dance I fell down and landed on my arm, but I got back up because I’m no quitter.
Jean Pritchard's Dance Story
My father had his own dance band before he was married so music played a big part in our family. As a child I remember him playing all sorts of different music from Classical to Jazz and apparently as toddler I used to dance to his playing.
I first started dancing at primary school at around 10 years old. From a young age drama was my passion and I had a love for acting but I took up an after school dance class with some of my friends and that’s when my love and passion for dance began to grow. I have now been dancing for nearly eight years.
I think I really began to fall in love with dance when I started watching the old movies with Fred and Ginger and Gene Kelly (loved him in On the Town and American in Paris) It certainly wasn't anything to do with my experience at a local ballet school whose teacher told me I danced 'like an elephant'!
Why I Dance by Teresa Predota
I started Dancefest classes in Malvern a few years ago. I needed to do something for myself so I looked around for an activity to interest me. I remembered that in my twenties I had attended KFA classes in London and thoroughly enjoyed them. The decision was made! I was going to recommence dance again after 40 years!
When I was eight years old, my mother took me along to the village hall for my first ballroom dancing lesson. The room was full of children and I was taught the basic steps of a ballroom waltz which I had to practise the whole of the evening. Little did I know then that I would be with the dance school until I was sixteen.
I first started dancing with classic academy of dance at three years old. Each week I would take part in a ballet, tap and disco classes and as I got older, I started to take part in more and more classes.
Why I Dance - Rebecca Parkin
My earliest memory of dance is one of my 1st ever shows, when I was 4, where my Mum insisted on me wearing the biggest tutu she could find, That, along with my little curly Afro that I used to have, certainly made me stand out!
My Dance Story by Jenny Colborne
I was a rather inactive small child, with older than normal parents, late in walking, having little interest in physical activity and no sense of competition!
My first memory of discovering dance was at my infants school when we had a weekly session of “Movement to music” from the radio.
I started ballet lessons at the age of five at a school in Bournemouth where there were several good dance schools. I was extremely shy and would not join in for the first couple of classes. After much coaxing I took my first tentative steps and loved to watch and learn from the back row as is the case now!
Mary WilliamsI was just three years old when I was enrolled at Marjorie Chater’s dance school. My older sisters already danced there. This was the beginning of a life long love of dance.
Why I dance - Jeorgia Xhika
My earliest dance memory was in primary school in year 3 when a brand new after school dance club was announced and my friends were all attending. It seemed so much fun that in the second week I decided to take part.
My dance journey started when I was 3, when I began dancing at Annabelle Humpage Acadamy of Dance. Dance has always been an important part of my life... it is not just an escape for me, but another form of communication – allowing to speak to people without words, tell stories through movement.
Dance to me is something I love to do, not only does it keep me healthy and fit, but I can release any emotions through my dancing.