The Red Shoes School of Dance
The Red Shoes School of Dance is a dance studio promoting classes in ballet, jazz, theatrical, modern, contemporary, street dance and acrobatics.
I met with the enthusiastic principle, Claire Monaghan. Let’s hear her story.
“It was in London that I trained at a stage school and became a professional dancer. By the time I’d reached my early 20’s I’d been dancing for years and decided to move into teaching. After undertaking teacher training at Sunderland University I started freelancing. The work was varied and included teaching at different schools, studios, and even on University degree courses. Marriage and children followed and it was then that I decided to really go for it. Once I’d achieved the International Dance Teachers Association accreditation, I became a fully qualified teacher. This meant I was able to put pupils through exams in all types of dance from belly dancing to Latin. That’s when The Red Shoes School of Dance was born!”
Pump up the volume
“The early days were spent teaching baby ballet at a local church hall on a Saturday morning. It just grew from there. Initially renting space from Crash Bang Wallop, I’d moved a few times due to a change in their circumstances. Needing to feel more settled, I talked to Mark about taking my own unit. Mark showed me a space and made some suggestions on what could be done to adapt it. My husband and I discussed it and, instead of buying a new kitchen, we took the unit! We’ve never looked back.”
“Fast forward 12 years and we now have a large studio downstairs with a waiting room. The office is upstairs alongside another dance studio which has a different floor suitable for tap and ballet. There’s been a few facelifts over the years and it certainly feels like home. We now have 3 teachers working with over 200 students, 7 days a week, with classes in ballet, jazz, theatrical, modern, contemporary, street dance and acrobatics. Our youngest students are 18 months and the oldest around 20 years old.”
It’s obvious from talking to Claire that the dance school is her absolute passion. Let’s hear what she finds the most rewarding.
Can’t stop the feeling
“The students make this job brilliant. We’ve had lots of success with pupils moving onto Broadway and the West End. Many have gone on to become teachers themselves. Others have simply moved onto to a normal life but have taken with them an appreciation and lifelong enjoyment of dance. It’s certainly, not a job you do for the money. My Husband will attest to that! Rather a life of love, a passion and a calling. So many parents have commented how beneficial the dance school is for their kids. Many of whom are struggling with the long term effects of lockdown. We’re working to help improve confidence levels in all our students. But tell me who can resist watching parents gleefully pretending to be fairytale princesses with their toddlers during a baby ballet class? I’m not actually sure who enjoys that class the most!”
Shake your groove thing
“Our shows tell a story and that story is told through the medium of dance. Just like a painting, a poem or a piece of music, we are creating art. Each production includes a mixture of different dance styles. This gives all of the students a chance to take part.
In 2011 we did our first show, ‘The Four Seasons’. It was very simple and really good fun. As our creativity developed, the Red Shoes Dancer was born. The Red Shoes Dancer is essentially the main protagonist of the story, and each show has one. Displayed on the wall of the studio, the red shoes create aspiration for the students. It’s really important for us to create an environment where kids feel confident and are able to be themselves, in a comfortable non-judgemental environment.”
And we danced
“Over the years we’ve done a fairytale mix up show, a Christmas Carol production and even a time travel story featuring famous female empowering characters including Mother Teresa, Boudica and Cleopatra. Our version of the Nutcracker fused traditional ballet with modern dance and music. Last year (the longest time between shows because of covid) with Hera’s Revenge we introduced students to Greek mythology. This year were off to Narnia! The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe premiers in July. We’re having a great time rehearsing with the huge wardrobe we’ve built for the set.”
Hmmm Narnia, reminds me of a business park I know! To conclude today’s interview I asked Claire what she liked about being a tenant on the Terry Dicken Business Park.
I like to move it
“The landlord’s flexibility meant we were able to secure an ideal unit and convert it into the perfect space. There’s a really nice community here. We have a really good rapport with our neighbours. Direct Business Supplies, Rooms of Stokesley and Stonewall Leisure are a great bunch of businesses to be near. We feel very safe and secure and Mark is always on the end of the phone if you need him.”
Before we wrap up for today, lets recap what’s coming up at the Red Shoes School of Dance.
You should be dancing
Street dance class for 3-8 year olds runs on a Tuesday evening and has some spaces left. Great fun, it’s really good exercise and as it’s non-technical, it’s a good introduction to dance.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe show is on July 1st & 2nd at The PA Auditorium, Yarm School, Yarm, TS15 9EJ. Purchase tickets here
The Red Shoes School of Dance can be found at Unit 8, Terry Dicken Industrial Estate, Ellerbeck Way, Stokesley, TS9 5JZ
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