Built on over 60 years of experience Stephaneta School of Dancing, Cannock, West Midlands, has grown from the substantial passion of dance belonging to one woman; Mrs Charles.
Formerly known as Miss Bellingham, Mrs Charles was professionally perfecting her craft from the tender age of 11 performing with a troop of dancers at ENSA during World War II. Mrs Charles performed as part of the dance cast for endless pantomimes and musical comedy shows until she took her teaching exams in 1952. From here she developed her own dance troop who danced at her wedding just one year on in 1953.
With the success and popularity of the dance troop growing, Mrs Charles opened her first dance school in 1954 called “Midlands School of Dancing”. Based in Wolverhampton, the school became the foundations for the busy dance academy Stephaneta School of Dancing is today.
Midlands Dancing School continued to grow and another branch was opened in a local church hall in Cannock. This branch of the school quickly flourished and another hall was required to keep up with the enrolment of many new students. In 1961 the school outgrew its premises and moved to the community centre in Old Court Lane.
Both the Wolverhampton and Cannock dance studios produced a very high quality of dancers, many going into professional dancing or working pantomimes and summer seasons, one student even made the Olymipc gymnast team.
During this time Mrs Charles went into solo work as a soubrette along side her teaching, she called herself “Stephaneta”. Performing in many clubs and theatres around the midlands, Mrs Charles was fortunate enough to work with the stars of the time; people like Harry Grayson, Norman Wisdom and Roy Walker to name a few.
The dancing school opened an additional studio at Mrs Charles’ home and formally became known as the Stephaneta School of Dance.
Born in 1956, Mrs Charles’ daughter Stephanie, at the age of 16, performed as her mother did in pantomimes and summer seasons until taking her teaching exams through the IDTA (International Dancing Teachers Association). The mother daughter duo continued to grow the dancing school, staging annual performances Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton and the Prince Of Wales theatre in Cannock. From 1972 Stephaneta School of Dancing were one of the few schools nationwide teaching people to dance in wheelchairs, this is still something Mrs Charles does today.
The next generation of dancers and teachers came along with the birth of Miss Charles’ children Sophia & Craig in 1986 and 1989 respectively. Mrs Charles’ other granddaughter Pippa was born in 1991 and the children naturally all started dancing as soon as they could walk.
Amalgamating both schools and relocating to a much larger premises, the dancing school moved from the community center to the newly built Business and Leisure Centre on the Avon Road in 2005.
Seven years on in 2012, Stephaneta School of Dance opened the doors at their very own premises based in Kingston Court on the Walsall Road in Cannock. Comprising of two fully equipped dance studios, changing room and ladies gym as well as a reception area and storage for dance wear and shoes available for purchase. The school has seven ITDA qualified teachers, teaching over 15 types of classes ranging from classical ballet to street dance and Zumba.
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