Before unschooling, early in parenting, Janine moved toward teaching dance.

From the West End to Diddi Dance franchise

Former West End dancer Janine Davies wanted to alter her working routine following the birth of her first child. Here, she tells how she continued to keep dancing as her career, but kept her family as her top priority.

Dancing career

Janine Davies had enjoyed a glittering career in the West End, appearing in world-famous productions including Grease, Guys & Dolls, Sugar Babies, the film version of Phantom of the Opera, and working as resident director in Chicago when she was pregnant with her first child, Sam. She decided to turn to teaching when her family responsibilities took centre stage. "Once I'd had my son it would have been very difficult to carry on with my career in shows - the lifestyle isn't very family orientated," said Janine. "I had thought about starting to teach because I knew Sam would be starting nursery school."

She taught a children's theatre workshop in a production of Blood Brothers, and it was here that she found out about Anne-Marie Wilkins, the founder of Diddi Dance, a funky dance class for pre-school children.

"Sam was three at the time when I met Anne-Marie," says Janine, who lives in Twickenham. "She was looking for pilot franchisees." That first meeting four-and-a-half years ago led to Janine teaching two classes.

"We were lucky because at that time in our area there wasn't really that much going on,'' she said. "We were filling a gap in the market. We publicised the classes - I knew some mums from toddler groups. We put posters up in the venues, nearby shops, cafes and pottery cafes. We left leaflets on tables in mum and toddler groups and handed out flyers to parents on sunny days in the park."

Diddi Dance

The franchise founded by professional dancer Anne-Marie is designed to enhance co-ordination in children, build their confidence and encourage their creativity. The 45-minute sessions feature different types of music, including salsa, country, Bollywood, hip hop and funk. Youngsters use bells, hoops and ribbons, and the class complements the Early Years Foundation Stage. Classes are generally aimed at boys and girls aged two to four, but there are several toddlers who are 18 months or even younger who are able to join in. Diddi Dance also hold parties too.

Anne-Marie is now seeking franchisees all round the country. Franchisees are asked to invest £6,400


Janine, 46, has made her business even more family-orientated because partner Karl Morgan - also a professional dancer - is now heavily involved in running classes too. "He's a great teacher and the children love him," says Janine. "It's great to have a man running the classes - he's a good role model."

The couple have two children, Sam, now eight, and three-year-old Kes. The birth of their second child motivated Karl into becoming involved in Diddi Dance. He had been performing in Billy Elliot for eight shows a week. ''He was missing out on family stuff,'' says Janine. "Now he has completely altered his routine and he loves it. He sees the children much more, and is particularly able to spend more time with our younger child before he starts school. We also find that holding the dance classes is a good way to be involved in our local community."

The couple are opening another two new classes after Easter, so this will make nine classes in all. "There is a 50-50 ratio between girls and boys in our classes," says Janine, something she attributes to the presence of Karl. "There is still a bit of a stigma to boys dancing," she says, "but we have had a big increase in particular with the boys. Karl is a fantastic teacher with lots of energy and this appeals to them."

But what about working together? Does it put a strain on their personal relationship? "No," says Janine. "We work very well together—we worked a lot together when we were dancing in shows - and it has given us a brilliant balance in our family life."

Original, at Internet Archive

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