Jenny Kilburn, Founder of Huddersfield based Synergos Consultancy talks about what dance means to her and her family.
I remember when I was about six or seven years old, a very good friend of mine used to attend ballet classes on a Saturday and sometimes I used to go and watch her. I think that is when I first became interested in the world of dance. It wasn’t until I was about eleven years old that I really started dancing which in the dancing world, is quite late, but once I started, my passion just grew and grew.
I was lucky enough to attend a high school that had their very own dance school teacher called Mrs Oldroyd, who taught contemporary dance. I remember getting excited about attending her lessons and working so hard when I was in them. I continued to take lessons throughout my five years in high school. I participated in school productions and I just loved performing to live audiences. I would even travel from Huddersfield to Leeds on a Sunday to take additional contemporary dance classes. I simply had no interest in anything else…just dance.
Alongside this, I joined a local dance school – Audrey Spencer School of Dance and formally learnt genres in ballet, modern jazz and tap. I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons which led me onto auditioning and taking part in local amateur musical theatre productions as a dancer until the age of 19 when I finally gave up dancing. Although I stopped dancing myself, my love of dance continued. I returned to dance many, many years later at the same dance school and to take part in adult tap classes. We even took part in a performance at the Lawrence Batley theatre which was brilliant!
When I had my daughter Abigail I introduced her to the world of dance at the tender age of three years old and 14 years later she still attends the same dance school that I attended.
Dancing for me is just an amazing feeling and it is such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. It allows you to become lost in a world of the character you are portraying and the music. I used to put on home performances, usually to myself because my brothers and sister were never interested in watching me, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to perform. Tap dancing was my favourite genre and I loved watching the old musicals with stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds who were just fabulous dancers and whom gave me great inspiration.
Although I no longer dance, my passion for dance continues, in supporting and watching my daughter dance. A typical day now during competitions will usually mean being up bright and early, travelling to the venue, competing all day and often staying overnight in a hotel if the competition is for several days. Most weekends we just start the process all over again! Dancing and the community that comes with it is really a lifestyle and over the years we have made some amazing friends through dancing. Dance lessons for Abigail until recently were 6 days per week but have now been reduced to 3 days.
On top of the physical aspect, as a family, we love attending the theatre to watch musical theatre performances. In 2019, we attended 24 times and our Christmas tradition for the past few years have been to watch a ballet, which is such a magical moment. Although we haven’t been able to get anywhere near that number this year, we are excited for liver performances to start up again in the near future so we can support the arts.
My advice to anyone wanting to get into any type of dancing is to start as young as you possibly can! The world of dance has changed considerably since my early days and you are no longer required just to dance but typically be proficient in acrobatics and being able to sing is also a must in some genres.
It’s amazing to see how much dance has changed over the years and I look forward to seeing how it continues to further develop. I for sure will always want to be a part of the world of dance.