Flashback to 2008: Dancing night away for 40th anniversary

Denise Robinson first pulled on her dance shoes at the tender age of three.

Denise in 1973 with her pupils during her first show
Denise in 1973 with her pupils during her first show

More than 50 years later, she had put generation after generation through their paces at Wolverhampton’s Denise Robinson School of Dance.

Denise, from Codsall, first started the school, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary year in 2008, back when she was just 19.

The 59-year-old told the Express & Star, which featured a profile on her dance career: “For my first show, I only had 20 dancers – for the special anniversary production tonight there are 65.

“It’s incredible really. There must have been thousands of dancers through the doors over the years.

“There are mums who bring their little ones to classes now who I remember teaching when they were little girls themselves – and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Denise started dancing as a youngster along with her sister, Carol.

She was immediately hooked. “It has been my life since then,” she said.

Denise takes a look at old photos

Keen to share her love of dance with others, she gained the necessary qualification.

“I took my teaching exam as soon as I was 16 and started the school a few years later,” Denise explained.

She said she was a great believer in the many health and social benefits it offered participants.

“I believe every little girl should be given the chance to dance. It is so beneficial. It keeps them fit, boosts their confidence and gives them a sense of purpose.”

To celebrate the dance school’s milestone in 2008, a special anniversary show entitled I’m Stepping Out was due to take place at the Mill Theatre, in Mill Bank, Sedgley, with a cast of 65 performers.

The production would see performers aged from four to 40 sing and dance to classic musical hits. Everyone was excited to be taking to the stage.

Speaking ahead of the second of two performances, Denise told the Express & Star: “This will be a musical that showcases their talents.

Denise in 1973 with a pupil during her first show

“They’ll be performing classics from the likes of Footloose, We Will Rock You, Dream Girls and High School Musical.

“The first night of the show was absolutely brilliant.”

Back in 2008, the dance school, which is still going strong today, met every week at the United Reformed Church in Penn Road, Penn.

When she wasn’t teaching, Denise also worked in the planning department at Wolverhampton City Council for 16 years before becoming a full-time dance instructor and producer.

She also choreographed for Wolverhampton Musical Comedy Company, which performed its shows at the Grand Theatre.

She said: “Dancing is in my blood and I’m very proud of the school.”

The special anniversary show was also be a family affair as Mrs Robinson’s husband Charles, aged 59, as filming it, daughter Kimberley, 22, was due to be on stage.

Denise aged 15

Meanwhile, 27-year-old son Adam was in charge of sound.

Plenty of glitz and glamour was promised by the show, which featured hits from popular musicals including Billy Elliot, Footloose and Hairspray.

“We’ve been rehearsing for six long months now so hopefully everything will be perfect on the night,” added Denise.

“There are a lot of up and coming talented youngsters performing in the show.

““The moment the members put on their costumes it is clear they are in another world and they love it.

“The parents also work hard supporting the students because they have to get them to all the rehearsals.

“The show is a lot of work to put on, but everyone gets involved.”

Denise, aged 15, with her sister Carol, aged 13

More recent productions staged by the dance school include Dance With Your Heart and Your Feet will Follow in 2015.

The performance featured familiar songs from Shrek the Musical, Dreamboats and Petticoats, a selection of Beyonce tracks and Ricky Martin’s She Bangs, as well as younger members dressing up as piglets for a Winnie the Pooh section.

The routines were choreographed by Denise and her daughter Kimberley, who followed in her footsteps.

Denise said: “I can be in tears sometimes even though I know what’s coming, it can be very emotional when you know how hard they work.

“It’s a mad world, you do it and you love it.

“It’s not just done by one person everyone lends a hand in it.”

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