Emma Date, manager of Attitude Dance Leeds in Calverley, was delighted to have the team’s audition tape approved – securing a competitive slot to perform in front of crowds of visitors.
The 46-year-old started her dance school at Calverley Methodist Church 12 years ago and has seen hundreds of budding dancers come through the doors.
But for the children and young people who join her classes, it’s about much more than dancing.
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“But it’s also the social aspect, the bonds they weave and becoming a family that are so important.
“The friends they make while dancing, they will stay with them and keep them for many years.”
Emma started dancing at the age of two, training in ballet, tap, modern and jazz at the Toni Moss Academy of Dance in Kent, where she also gained teaching experience.
She moved to Yorkshire in 1998 to study a degree in dance at Bretton Hall University and began her career as a dance teacher in Leeds, working at DAZL for 15 years before going freelance.
Attitude Dance offers classes in acrobatic arts, street dance, ballet, cheer, musical theatre, drama, tap, aerial hoop, contemporary and stage.
And a troupe of around 13 dancers, aged 5 to 23, had the opportunity to perform at Disneyland Paris in July after their audition was offered by agency Take a Bow Productions.
This follows a heartbreak in March 2020 when an Attitude Dance troupe discovered they had been accepted into the program during the first week of lockdown.
Some of the dancers from the 2020 troupe will be performing at this year’s event, including Emma’s 13-year-old daughter Matilda.
“They’re so excited,” Emma said.
“It’s Disneyland Paris’ 30th anniversary so it’s an even better year to perform.
“They’re especially thrilled because it’s been a tough time to do it and some of the squad are part of the squad who tried in 2020 but couldn’t go. They’re even more thrilled.”
Emma has been shortlisted as a National Business Hero at the 2020 SME Business Awards for her work as a dance teacher after being nominated by the parents of one of her students.
Since then, she’s continued to support families during lockdown, hosting Zoom dance lessons, workshops, socials and even a ‘meet the pets’ event.
“A lot of parents said it was a lifesaver for the kids,” Emma added.
“It gave them a focus and something to look forward to, a chance to still see friends, albeit on screen, but still a connection for them.”
Emma is still in contact with many of her former students, who often come to catch up, and some of them now have families of their own.
“It’s nice to still have that connection with them,” she said.
“What drives me forward is the passion for dance, but also to see children grow up and realize their dreams.
“It’s not always in the dance, but you always feel like you’re part of building them as a person.”
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