Respected Burnley dance teacher and choregrapher dies at 88
Mrs Joyce Sage, better known locally as Miss Joyce Heap, was a local dance teacher and choreographer who started her career at the Northern School of Dance in a large house on Manchester Road in Burnley.
This closed when she was around 14 and Miss Heap took over the teaching, moving the school to a room behind a greengrocer's shop in Cleaver Street owned by her father, Ike.
He later bought the house next door, mirrors and barres were installed to create a dance studio and The Joyce Heap School of Dancing was born.
Miss Heap became a much loved and respected teacher, friend and mentor to generations of pupils who attended her celebrated dance school.
The school trained many hundreds of young dancers, several of whom progressed to careers in ballet and other theatre dance genres, as well as providing a steady stream of assistant teachers for the school.
In addition, Miss Heap taught classes at several schools, including Heasandford, Hargher Clough, Wheatley Lane, the former Sunnybank, and Saturday morning classes at Elim Chapel in Colne Rd.
When she finally closed the school in the 1970’s, Miss Heap became an associate lecturer in dance at Burnley College, a position she held until her retirement.
Miss Heap was also well known as the choreographer of Burnley Light Opera Society from 1950 until 1970, providing many productions with dancers from her own school.
For many years she took a group of her students to the annual Concourse of the British Ballet organisation at its headquarters in London, and she also organised dance holidays in Austria and Holland.
Miss Heap always maintained that “dancing should be fun”, and ensured it was so. After her retirement, Miss Heap was awarded a Fellowship of the British Ballet Organisation in recognition of her many years’ contribution to the world of dance.
Miss Heap’s daughter, Kathryn, was one of the prodigies who became a dance teacher and worked with her mother for many years. She now lives in Denmark..
The wife of the late Ian Cargill Sage, Joyce's funeral will be held this Friday, February 14th, at Burnley Crematorium at 3-15pm. Mourners are asked to wear something red to match Joyce's red ballet shoes.
There is a request for no flowers but donations can be made for the care of dementia sufferers via Hartley Foulds Funeral Service in Burnley.