Dancing strong 30 years on

NILABE120229h1, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Diane Levers with acrobatic dancers in under the sea costumes.
NILABE120229h1, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Diane Levers with acrobatic dancers in under the sea costumes.

IT ALL started 30 years ago in a drafty hired room with snow coming through the ceiling in the cold winter months.

Thousands of students later and now at the Arena Church on Rutland Street Diane Levers School of Dance is still going strong.

NILABE120229h2, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Tap, Jazz, street and acrobatic dancers.

NILABE120229h2, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Tap, Jazz, street and acrobatic dancers.

Diane said: “I always wanted to be a dancer and back then everyone wanted to get on the cruise ships.

“It was a glamorous job, dancing every night and a way to travel but they wanted tall girls, you had to be 5ft 6ins to be picked and I’m only 5ft 1ins so I decided to take up teaching instead.”

Hiring out a room at Trefoil House, Saturday morning lessons started. A few years later the Tin Tabernacle on Station Road became the base for the growing dance school.

“We’d be dancing there and snow would come through the roof, it was freezing.

NILABE120229h3, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Diane Levers and son Jonathan Hart.

NILABE120229h3, Diane Levers as been running her dance school for 30 years. Diane Levers and son Jonathan Hart.

“We started more classes and I was getting more and more students coming along to join lessons.”

After a move to the Albion Leisure Centre and then the Trinity Boxing Club on Critchley Street, Diane moved to the Arena where the school still runs from now.

Having taught in the town for so long Diane has seen generations of family pass through the school and sign up for lessons.

She said: I’m always seeing people I know out and about.

“I can’t walk around Tesco without bumping into one of my students or their mums.

“A lot of the time I’ve taught the mum when she was younger and then a few years will pass and she’ll be back to sign her kids up.”

And there are plenty of success stories to tell about students.

Diane’s own son, Jono, who travels up from London every Wednesday to teach the street dance class, has perfomed on the X-Factor live shows, toured with Alexandra Burke and last year was part of the Michael Jackson memorial concert in Cardiff.

Diane said: “He’s done really well and has performed at some great places and with some amazing people, he’s what I hope for for all of my students.

“We teach the traditional things like ballet, tap, acro, jazz but we also want to make sure that we’re up-to-date so teach street dance and other modern styles.”

Other DKL Academy graduates include Luke McCabe who is now at Brit School, Tessa Brock who is a singer in the band NVS who have just been picked to support JLS on their tour and Tessa’s brother Jason, who is playing Michael Jackson in a tribute show.

Other former pupils have gone on to start up their own dance schools and agencies training up performers for West End shows.

Next week the DKL Academy is putting on a show to celebrate the 30 year milestone.

In it pupils will perform to Diane’s favourite music, classic routines and modern dances.

The show is at the Ormiston Ilkeston Academy from Tuesday March 13 and then every night until the final show on Saturday March 17, it starts at 7.15pm.

Tickets are £7 and are available from the Arena Hope in the Market Place, The Arena Church in Rutland Street and Dance-Rite in Queen Street.

A charity raffle each night will see all cash raised donated to the Ryan Lee Trust.

Classes run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For more information call Diane on 07983 982530.