The dance school was originally established in Edinburgh in 1985 with just five pupils and over the years it continued to grow and moved to Peebles, where it has its own dance studios and now offers over 70 classes a week to over 300 pupils.
Founder and school principal Fiona Henderson is herself an ex-championship dancer, having danced internationally as well as at the opening of the Commonwealth Games, the QE2 and the Edinburgh Tattoo. She is also now a championship judge as well as running one of the largest dance schools in the country.
The Advertiser caught up with Fiona to find out more about the dance school and her plans for establishing a branch in Penicuik.
She said: “We run a busy school in Peebles which offers classes in Ballet, Highland, Tap, Modern, Acro, Street, Musical Theatre, Scottish National, Irish, Contemporary, Line Dancing and Jazz. Most of our pupils have been with us for many years and take several subjects with us – we’re initially offering our most popular subjects when we start classes in Penicuik at the beginning of November – Ballet, Tap, Street and Modern.
“I’ve been teaching dance for over 35 years and it’s wonderful to see pupils attend their first class and how quickly they settle and start to develop. There are lots of things to learn in dance which help children as they grow up. In addition to the obvious fitness benefits they also develop confidence, self-belief, co-ordination, concentration, muscle tone, self-control, self-discipline, expectation setting and teamwork.
“We welcome pupils from an early age and offer dance tuition right the way up to professional level. Some of our former students have progressed to study dance at full-time vocational schools, some have become full-time dance teachers, some are professional dancers and some have gone on to open their own dance schools.”
Speaking about the new classes in Penicuik, Fiona added: “Our school has enjoyed several years of really significant growth in pupil numbers and classes offered. We have been looking for opportunities to expand and introduce FHSD dance to new areas.
“We will be holding our classes in the Ladywood Leisure Centre – they have been really encouraging and helpful and we are very grateful to them.
“We’ll be offering pupils the chance to take dance exams with the major recognised dance examination bodies - this gives them something to aim for and is a great way for them and their parents to see their progress in ability and confidence. We also hold annual dance shows which gives them an opportunity to perform on a stage and showcase their talents.
“Dance really is for everyone – I love meeting pupils at 2 or 3 years old and then teaching them for the next 15 years or more and see them grow and develop both as dancers and as people.”
Fiona revealed that the dance school has had to adapt to operating in a Covid-19 environment like many organisations, schools and clubs.
She said: “We’ve adopted a rigorous approach to ensure we operate in a safe, secure manner. We carry out detailed risk assessments, we have ensured all our teachers are Covid-19 trained and certified and we have a very detailed set of procedures and cleaning protocols which are designed to minimise the risk in all the venues where we operate.
“We have also restricted our class numbers to ensure the required social distancing requirements are always achieved and our on-line class registers ensure we have full customer data if required by for contact tracing.”
The weekly programme of classes starting on Monday is:
4pm - 4.45pm P1-3 Ballet
5pm - 5.45pm P1-3 Stage
6pm - 6.45pm P1-7 Street
7pm -7.45pm S1-6 Street
4pm - 4.45pm P4-7 Ballet
5pm - 5.45pm P4-7 Tap
6pm - 6.45pm P4-7 Modern
See www.fionahendersondance.com for more information.