BARBARA Peters inspired generations of dancers from her Huddersfield town centre studio.
Now she is working from a temporary home at the Brian Jackson Centre while she continues her search for new premises where she can continue the work that has cemented her reputation as one of the region’s leading dance teachers.
For 46 years, Barbara’s school was based in studios in Market Walk in the heart of the town.
It was there that generations of dancers learned the skills that would either take them on to careers in dance or just give them the confidence, fitness and positive attitude that would help them in any walk of life.
“The lease ran out on the studios in Market Walk on December 31,” said Barbara, who 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 were in until the end of last year.
“It was hard to leave. A lot of people and a lot of children came there.
“It’s all good memories and lots of lovely people. Because we were there so long, we had a lot of children whose mums had been to the school.
“I’ve got some who started as pupils with me who are now bringing their grandchildren to do ballet.”
But when the lease came up for renewal, Barbara decided it was time to move on.
“It was too big for me to renovate, given the present economic climate.
“It was no longer the right place for what I wanted to do.
“I was extremely lucky when I went to Market Walk all those years ago. We rented it for £2 a week at the beginning. I didn’t expect to be there long.”
Now Barbara wants to find premises with easy access, preferably at ground floor level, or a lift so that young mums don’t have to carry prams and buggies up flights of stairs as they did at Market Walk.
“Babyballet is now a really important part of the whole picture.The programme is from six months to school age when the children then continue into the main school.There are now over 30 franchises covering the country.
“I want something that matches modern standards and gives me somewhere where I can make a new home for the school.”
“I believe in the value of dance so much. It is so lovely to see children and adults being active.
“I’m not ready to hang up my shoes because it is something that I enjoy,” she said.
“I’m sure Jack would want me to carry on.”
Jack Peters, Barbara’s husband, died last year. Jack was always around to help out at the school and when he was not with Barbara, he would be painting, his lifelong passion.
A talented artist, Jack trained at the Slade School of Art and the family took great pride in an exhibition of his work which was shown at Dean Clough in Halifax not long after his death.
Now Barbara is looking to the future and wants to establish a permanent home for her classes once again in Huddersfield.
She is currently hiring space at the Brian Jackson centre for Saturday morning classes but hopes to find a more permanent space soon.
“My school does tend to be for the masses. If you find a star that’s good, but you don’t set out to find stars.
“Anyone who wants to come is welcome.”
It is two years since more than 100 performers gathered at the Lawrence Batley Theatre for two performances paying tribute to Barbara’s 50 years as a dance teacher.
Barbara continues to get the same buzz from working with young people and from seeing them have fun.
She clearly gets as much joy from seeing others enjoy dance for the delight of expressing themselves, of building their confidence and feeling fitter.
And with her new plans, that looks set to continue for more years to come.
If you can help Barbara find a new home for her school or if you are a former student wanting a catch up, contact her on email@example.com or via Facebook.