FOR sheer inspiration look no further than dance teacher Barbara Peters.
On Sunday, dancers and young performers will pack the Lawrence Batley Theatre to celebrate Barbara’s 50 years as a leading dance teacher.
Barbara has taught generations of dancers and is delighted to be seeing daughters of former students now coming for classes.
Today, even after half a century of teaching, Barbara still gets the same buzz from working with young people and from seeing them have fun.
She has had many individual successes with dancers going on to top dance academies and into the dance world as professionals.
But she clearly gets as much joy from seeing many others enjoy dance for the delight of expressing themselves, of building their confidence and feeling fitter.
And that is what Sunday’s two performances at the LBT will be about, having fun with dance.
At the afternoon show, the younger pupils from the Barbara Peters School of Dance will be going through their paces and showing just what a great time they have with their teachers.
The evening performance will see older students showing off some of the many dance styles from the school including formal ballet, theatre dance, contemporary, street dance and jazz dance.
Performers from Barbara’s Razz Theatre School will pack dance, drama and acting skills into songs from the shows.
What audiences see will be a tribute to Barbara and to the strong team of young dancing staff that she has around her.
There will be more than 100 young people aged from two to 22 involved in the show. It has been choreographed by Candida Wilman, who has worked with Barbara for 19 years.
Barbara started her school in Meltham in the very early days of her teaching career.
“We moved to Huddersfield in 1964 into the town centre premises that we are still in, in Market Walk. We have been in the same premises for 45 years and I’ve been teaching in Huddersfield for 50,” said Barbara.
“I started in my mum’s front room in Marsh when I was about 15. My mum said that I started dancing when I was very little, probably two or three years old. I did acrobatic dancing and always wanted to do ballet.
“I went to someone called Joan Broomhall for lessons when I was nine. And I also went to Marie Habron, a dance teacher who coincidentally was in Market Walk near to where I am now.
“I was so keen on ballet and it came so easily to me that I did all five Royal Academy exams in three years.”
Barbara has turned her dream of teaching and having her own school into a big success story that continues to run and run.
These days she prefers to manage the business, mentoring students and her teaching colleagues and ensuring that the Barbara Peters’ style of working hard and having fun with dance continues.
“I decided that I needed to employ energetic young people to do more of the hands on teaching these days.
“Candida has been with me for a long time and does a wonderful job.”
And when this summer Barbara started to look for another teacher who was Royal Academy qualified, she found fate taking a hand.
“I came across this young teacher called Jane Priestley. She qualified recently but on the same course on exactly the same day that I did in 1959.
“Jane has now joined us to teach classical ballet. That was the missing piece in the jigsaw when it comes to our teaching strength.”
Big shows at the LBT have become part of the calendar for Barbara and her dancers. But this year’s will be extra special.
“I’m really looking forward to sitting in the audience and enjoying the performance.”
The two shows will raise money for the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust, a charity which has become close to Barbara’s heart and which she continues to support.
As for the future, neither Barbara or the school will rest on their laurels.
“The next big thing is that we are expanding into Halifax as part of the Baby Ballet which my daughter Claire already runs.”
Budding young dancers from Huddersfield and now Halifax will continue to been inspired by a teacher who has literally got thousands of youngsters up and dancing.