Curtain Upp Dance School was started by Helen Becque in 2016 and the school now has many pupils of ages 2-12 years, who all love to dance! Helen's passion for dance is so clear as soon as you meet her and you can tell the children admire their teacher.
I visited the Saturday sessions/rehearsals at Uppingham Town Hall, where children of all ages who've formed friendships since joining Curtain Upp all danced together each performing their groups and solo pieces for the show that Sunday. There was lots of laughter and the town hall was full of confidence and complete enjoyment.
Sunday was show day! The big day everyone had been waiting for and I was so excited too!
The show featured many different types of dance including tap, modern, Strictly Come Dancing worthy lifts and even cartwheels, worms and 'the floss'!
But don't think the parents got away with it! The show also featured an impressive 'Dad Dance' which was a beautiful ballet! Put it this way, they were actually rather good but my stomach hurt from laughing. Well done Dad's!
The school resumes after the Summer break on Thursday 31st August at Uppingham Town Hall. Taster sessions are £1 and your child can enjoy weekly classes from only £3.
I interviewed Helen about the school, the shows and the story behind Curtain Upp...
Take a read!
1. Thank you so much for inviting me to your 2018 Summer show! I had so much fun and it was lovely to see children of all ages enjoying dance and being so confident on stage.
Please tell our readers more about Curtain Upp and how it started?
I am so glad you enjoyed the show, I agree it is wonderful to see the joy on the children’s faces when they are performing and so many of them have gained confidence immensely since they started dancing. This is one of the main reasons I started Curtain Upp. My daughter Talia wanted to dance and I wanted to be able to give her all of the wonderful experiences, benefits and opportunities I had as a young dancer. I started dancing at the age of 4 and soon realised it was something I loved to do.
I started my career as a professional dancer in Blackpool, it was the best decision I ever made as this led to years of dancing, travelling the world and meeting the most amazing people. After this period in my life, I then trained to be an Art teacher but also taught dance, drama and music.
Opening Curtain Upp has enabled me to combine all of these transferable skills and experiences as a dancer and a classroom teacher. I feel as though I am where I belong and I am so happy I can have a positive impact on the people of Rutland who are interested in performing too.
2. One of the things I loved most, was seeing girls and boys dancing together. They all learned some amazing choreography and so many unique skills from different types of dance. Please tell us more about the children that take part in Curtain Upp and the types of dance included?
At Curtain Upp we offer dance classes in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Acrobatics, Street, Commercial, Lyrical and Musical Theatre. We teach group classes and private lessons, which is called the Curtain Upp Elites. We offer a variety of disciplines so that the children have a good choice of classes and can broaden their experience of styles of dance easily.
Dance classes start at age 2 and we encourage both girls and boys to join us. Many of the children who dance together attend the local schools in Uppingham. However, others come from various schools in the Rutland area and beyond. Curtain Upp is a family and it is wonderful to see the children making friends and bonding with other children from different areas and classes.
This was definitely apparent during our first ‘Spotlight Dance Festival’ this year and was reinforced at our Summer Show. It is so lovely to see all of our dancers creating lasting memories together. I am still great friends with the people I danced with at dance school and professionally, and they are friendships and memories I will cherish forever.
3. I also came along to the dance school on a Saturday, which is located in Uppingham Town Hall and it was lovely to watch the children rehearse their parts, meet some of the parents and the children too. I was amazed by all the children’s confidence, especially 2-year-old Florrie.
Please tell the readers a little more about the Saturday school?
I am so glad you had the opportunity to see the magical transition from rehearsal to a performance on the stage. Little Florrie was just a few weeks old in her Mommy’s arms when Rosie her sister attended Curtain Upp’s very first taster session at our launch. As soon as Florrie could stand she was copying her sister dancing, so she joined the class as soon she was just 2 years old and was the youngest person to take part in our Summer Show at Uppingham Theatre. I think her confidence and ability amazed everyone.
Saturday morning is our busiest day and starts at 9am with Baby Ballet age 2-3, followed by Baby Modern. Each 30-minute session costs £3. As the school is forever growing and evolving, I am currently working on our September timetable and all of the timings of classes can be found on our website www.curtainupp.co.uk.
4. The show was outstanding! The music, the choreography and the outfits were stunning. It was clear to see the children love their time at Curtain Upp and seeing their faces beam while they performed was lovely to witness.
This was our first ever theatre show and I must admit it was a little daunting. But I felt very confident it was going to be the most amazing experience for the children and their families. Especially as many of them would be dancing at such a wonderful theatre in their hometown. I started to plan the show a year ago and we began to learn and rehearse the numbers in March. We practised each week, added props and then polished the numbers. I really wanted the children to try their best to remember the steps themselves (apart from the baby group) so I made the decision not to be on stage with the younger children. I am so glad I went ahead with that decision as it meant that each troupe held the stage all by themselves and they were all so fantastic! I was bursting with pride.
Our costumes were sourced from a variety of places, but my favourites were those that were made by the Parents and Grandparents themselves. I am so glad you sensed the children’s love for their time at Curtain Upp. This is why I named the show ‘For the Love of Dance’ and ultimately this is the essence of Curtain Upp Stage School.
5. Thanks again for letting me share Curtain Upp on the blog, it really was a pleasure. Helen, what have you and your team got planned for the future of Curtain Upp and where can our readers go to signup their children?
Thank you so much for taking the time to see what we do. I strongly believe that dance can have such a positive effect on life. We have lots of exciting plans for the future and I will continue to ensure our dancers are receiving the highest quality of dance teaching combined with a strong element of fun and creativity.
We have been fundraising this year and with the help of this and also donations from local organisations and businesses we will be installing Ballet Barres in Uppingham Town Hall ready for September. We are also purchasing movable dance mirrors. We will be presenting our annual free showcases at The Falcon Hotel for Christmas in Uppingham and Uppingham Feast Day. As well as participating in the Rutland Spotlight Dance Festival 2019. After the huge success of our first Summer School, we plan to continue to hold ‘Holiday’ clubs at various times during the year.
We are also collaborating with Brooke Peverall who hosts SINGS! sessions around Rutland, to create a Curtain Upp choir. We will be focusing on Musical Theatre and Pop songs and have a £1 taster session at Uppingham Town Hall on Friday 31st August at 4.15pm.
Finally, from September we will also be focusing on exam work in Ballet, Modern and Tap. It will never be compulsory to take exams, but I feel the dancers are now ready to take this next big step and I am so excited to be presenting them with this new challenge.
If your child loves to dance, learn new skills, enjoys activities or maybe just wants something super fun to do at the weekends and perform in a big production with the most amazing costumes I've ever seen then maybe they should try a £1 taster day at Curtain Upp.
If anyone would like to see if there is space to sign their child up for a £1 taster for any session at any time during the year, they can do this via the Curtain Upp website www.curtainupp.co.uk or by emailing Helen directly at email@example.com.
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