Dance charity from Heckmondwike up for top prize

Some of the dancers who take part in the Time Step Community Dance sessions.
Some of the dancers who take part in the Time Step Community Dance sessions.

A Heckmondwike charity which teaches ballet to pensioners and wheelchair dance sessions has made it onto the shortlist for a prestigious award.

Timestep Community Dance, on Smithies Lane, has been picked from entries from across the UK as well as Canada and Australia as a finalist in the Dance School of the Year Awards.

Rachel Walmsley, founder of Timestep Community Dance, said: “We’re feeling quite overwhelmed.

“It’s amazing to be recognised for the work that we’re doing. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

The charity was started in January by Rachel, who runs dance school Timestep Studio, as she wanted to provide inclusive dance sessions.

“Our mission is to combat social isolation through dance and fitness,” she explained.

Sessions include Twilight Tutus and Strictly Twilight - ballet and ballroom classes for elderly people - and dance-based classes for people who are in wheelchairs called Beyond Wheels.

There are also dance classes for teenage girls who have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation, and fitness and walking sessions to encourage people to talk about mental health issues and promote the positive impact exercise can have.

Rachel said it was a parent whose son has cerebral palsy and attends Timestep Community Dance who nominated the charity for the award.

She and her team have been invited to an awards ceremony at the Woodbury Park Hotel in Devon later this month where the winners will be announced.

As well as bronze, silver and gold winners in each category, this year there is a special award for innovation in the teaching of male dance and an overall winner who will be crowned Dance School of the Year 2019.

Anne Walker, who founded the awards to celebrate the achievements of dance schools, said: “Dance teachers should be applauded and celebrated. So much more than just a teacher – they are almost a substitute parent to many of their students as they are role models, mentors and social workers, offering support, stability and a disciplined approach to life.”