‘Time Of Their Lives’ as Sanderson Dance marks 40th anniversary

Jackie Sanderson and her dance partner Michael Collinge
Jackie Sanderson and her dance partner Michael Collinge

More than 500 dancers, past and present, converged on Sanderson Dance on Bank Holiday Monday to celebrate 40 years and pay tribute to the woman who started it all, Jackie Sanderson.

The free event was designed as a huge reunion for people connected with Sanderson Dance, a company which started from small beginnings in 15 different venues in Lancashire, including Nelson, Brierfield and Burnley.

Ten-year-old dancers Ava Grayce Gregson and Jodie Leigh Weller enjoying the day

Ten-year-old dancers Ava Grayce Gregson and Jodie Leigh Weller enjoying the day

Sanderson Dance is now one of the biggest dance schools in the country with an international clientele.

Jackie Sanderson started the business back in 1976 aged 16.

And now she’s short-listed for Pendle Business Person of the Year and Employer of the Year in the Pendle Business Awards – winners will be announced on June 8th – as a tribute to her hard work over the decades.

The 40th anniversary celebrations which started on Bank Holiday Monday will continue and dancers from across the region are invited to a huge dance night at the world famous Empress Ballroom at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Saturday, June 4th.

People kept coming up and telling me that Sanderson Dance meant so much to them and that dancing at Sanderson has been the time of their lives

Jackie Sanderson

Information on how to get complimentary tickets is on www.sanderson.co.uk or call into Sanderson Dance on Churchill Way, Lomeshaye Industrial Estate, just off the M65 motorway.

Talking about the first 40th anniversary event, Jackie said: “I didn’t think in one day I could have my breath taken away so many times!

“I was reunited with people who’d worked with me or taught me in the early days, some of whom I hadn’t seen for over 30 years.

“People kept coming up and telling me that Sanderson Dance meant so much to them and that dancing at Sanderson has been the time of their lives.”

Street dancers show off their latest moves

Street dancers show off their latest moves

At the event she was reunited with her very first dance teacher, Kevin Halstead, who taught Jackie her first steps.

And the first teacher she first ever employed, Vanessa Robinson (formerly Ritson) came to see Jackie at the milestone celebration, too.

“It was an incredible day and at times quite emotional. What a feeling,” she said.

“So many friendships have been forged between teachers and dancers and their families, it was a celebration day for everyone.”

Star ballet dancer Georgia Aspinall at the Sanderson Dance celebrations to mark 40 years

Star ballet dancer Georgia Aspinall at the Sanderson Dance celebrations to mark 40 years

At the reunion on Monday there were more than 10 dance demonstrations from cheerleading to waltz, Latin, street dance and hip hop with a new generation of Sanderson dancers.

More than 1,000 photos and cuttings were displayed in four studios for each of the dance school’s four decades including the achievements of Sanderson’s British Dance Champions.

And a staggering 900 free hotdogs were consumed, along with countless free ice-creams and plenty of bottles of celebration prosecco!

Jackie Sanderson and Michael Collinge in competitive action as 11-year-olds

Jackie Sanderson and Michael Collinge in competitive action as 11-year-olds

Jake Donlan (19) from Colne who has recently joined Sanderson Dance as a street dance teacher (s)

Jake Donlan (19) from Colne who has recently joined Sanderson Dance as a street dance teacher (s)

Ballet dancers take time out to enjoy the street dance demonstration

Ballet dancers take time out to enjoy the street dance demonstration

Jackie Sanderson with Vanessa Robinson (nee Ritson) the first dance teacher she employed

Jackie Sanderson with Vanessa Robinson (nee Ritson) the first dance teacher she employed