“We plan on working our socks off once we can return in October!”

This is part of a series of dance blogs in partnership with TeesDance, highlighting local dance artists and organisations in the Tees Valley.

This week, we are shining a light on:

Wilkinson Dance Academy

Wilkinson Dance Academy has been established for five years and is run by Jennie Wilkinson, a fully qualified dance teacher with NATD and UKA who studied for a Dance Degree at Sunderland University. All of their staff are fully insured and DBS checked with relevant qualifications and a wealth of experience.

Based in Stockton and Middlesbrough, the academy gives children and adults of all ages opportunities to gain confidence, develop technique, fitness and progression in a range of dance styles. These include ballet, tap, modern jazz, contemporary and street dance.

Jennie says, “We aim to provide dance for everyone, whether it be just for fun, or to progress with career prospects.”

Classes start from as young as 18 months which provides an introduction to movement and music using a variety of props to help stimulate and encourage participation. This then progresses into individual style classes for all ages and abilities throughout the week, encouraging confidence, musicality and style.

Classes are run in three areas of the Tees Valley in fully equipped studios, allowing a range of communities to come together to dance. There are opportunities to gain development throughout the year, whether it be undertaking examinations or putting on a show or display to raise money for local and national charities.

Jennie adds, “We pride ourselves on our fundraising efforts and have raised over £10,000 in the five years we have been established. This creates a sense of achievement for our students who have helped those in need in our local area.”

Charities that have been helped by the academy include Zoe’s Place, Daisy Chain, Great North Air Ambulance, S.A.R.A, MS Stockton, Norton Foodbank and Marton Community Centre.

“We also like to create and enable a fun and friendly environment for all of our classes,” Jennie says, “which in turn helps our students build friendships and a bond outside of school and work settings.”

During lockdown Jennie and her team have provided a range of summer classes on Zoom to help their students engage in physical activity and to continue developing their dance technique. Not all the students have taken part, but those who have, have worked tremendously hard despite being at home in a smaller space and have adapted well.

Unfortunately, lockdown occurred only two weeks away from students undertaking exams with NATD and UKA.

The academy will be adapting to the new guidelines and regulations in place with the current circumstances but hopefully will still be able to continue providing opportunities and planning events to help their students develop their skills as well as raising funds for local and national charities who have been affected by the temporary closure of their organisations due to coronavirus.

Jennie adds, “Looking forward we plan on working our socks off once we can return in October and be fully prepared for our rescheduled exams in November. We were also going to celebrate our 5th birthday in July 2021 with a ‘Best of WDA Show’. This is now postponed until July 2021, so lots of plans and preparations to undergo in the new year to make it the best show yet!”

Find out more at http://www.wilkinsondanceacademy.co.uk/

Article by Amy Swalwell and Jennie Wilkinson