SOPHIE WILLIAMS – DANCE MENTOR
Dance has been the centre of my life since the age of 4. I am totally passionate about dance and throughout my life whether learning to dance, dancing professionally, or now teaching dance, the greatest reward has been sharing my passion with others. As a teacher, being able to give something back and pass on what I know, encouraging and mentoring children and students towards their dreams is a real privilege.
I never really felt comfortable at school, I wasn’t academic, and it wasn’t until I found dance that I really found out who I was. The biggest thing I loved was performing and once I found that, I knew what my future would be. At my childhood dance school, Mayhew School of Dance in Northampton, I had a fantastic teacher, Lisa Cottrell, who believed in me and challenged me and introduced me to dance festivals and went on to become and still is, a wonderful mentor. Lisa helped me to successes including the Ruby Ginner Greek Awards, gaining a Bursary for most talented dancer at Nottingham Dance Festival and the All England Dance Finals, London. These were all such fantastic performing opportunities which inspired me and something I hope to be able to give to my students too.
By the age of 13 I knew that I wanted to become a professional dancer and focused all my energy on getting to audition for Performing Arts College. I began my professional training at the age of 16 at Doreen Birds College of Performing Acts where after 2 years training I gained my professional qualifications in Advanced I.S.T.D. Ballet, Tap and Modern.
I then won a supported place at London Studio Centre where I studied with some inspirational teachers including Anita Young, Steven Mear and Teresa Kerr going on to complete my Diploma in Performing Arts.
After incredibly valuable learning experiences working with Belinda King and Miguel Ferreres in cabaret and cruise work, culminating in pantomime with Kim Gavin and Carole Todd understudying Britt Eckland, I gained my full Equity Membership and won a sought after place in the cast of Starlight Express at The Apollo in London’s West End.
At this point my dancing career dreams were shattered when an accident during a performance of Starlight led to 8 months of physiotherapy and finally major spinal surgery which brought professional dancing to an end.
It was a traumatic time, but through every negative comes a positive and I found a new niche as an actor, presenter on television and radio working on The Bill, Northants TV, BBC Radio Northampton, Peterborough FM and Sky Sports.
At this stage performing was everything, and teaching still not something I had considered. However, through a variety of life challenges and new opportunities including a move to Barbados, I found myself starting to help and encourage other people and began to realise how rewarding this could be.
After an initial period teaching for Harborough Academy of Performing Arts, DuPont’s, Uppingham Community College and Centre Stage in Market Harborough, a parent encouraged me to set up my own dance school and Ministry of Dance was born.