Award-winning alumna to speak at summer Aiming High assembly
We are delighted to share the news that Charlotte Porter will be the guest speaker at our Summer Aiming High Assembly. Charlotte attended Richmond School from 2005 to 2010 and is now the proprietor and teacher of a highly-successful and award-winning dance school based in the stunning setting of The Station in Richmond.
Charlotte was a relatively late starter to the world of dance, beginning ballet lessons aged ten, with the Janet Seymour School of Theatre Dance in Reeth, where she was brought up. Her talent and passion shone through immediately and it was clear that she was not only a gifted dancer, later excelling at modern and tap, but the perfect role model to younger students as well. Charlotte was also an excellent and keen footballer, but it was dance that became her priority, and from the age of fifteen dance became her life.
Charlotte studied dance to GCSE, while at Richmond School, and took part in numerous shows during her time with us. Whilst being taught by Janet Seymour, Charlotte had the opportunity to help with choreography and quickly realised that this was the career she wanted to follow. She continued to perform in multiple productions and, after leaving Richmond School, she moved to Preston Dance College where she gained her teaching qualifications in Tap Dance and Modern Theatre. Whilst studying she was awarded the Faye-Knowles Chapman Award for Choreography and selected to dance as a northern associate for the UK Tap Dance team, Tap Attack. Following college, whilst working as a professional dancer and choreographer, Charlotte continued her studies with the Royal Academy of Dance gaining a Diploma in Dance Teaching Studies qualifying her to teach the RAD’s world-renowned ballet syllabus.
Charlotte has danced professionally in the UK and France, and was later head-hunted for a position in Geneva, Switzerland to teach contemporary dance having been trained by Donald Edwards, teacher at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and founding member of Phoenix Dance Theatre.
However, Charlotte wanted to continue to live and work in the Dales but there was no work so she had to create her own job to be able to stay; her aim is to encourage other young people to do the same. For three years, Charlotte was the deputy manager at Grinton Youth Hostel, and this gave her a great grounding in business and, whilst her work was not dance-related, she gained many transferable skills that have been invaluable when setting up and running her own business.
Charlotte started her dance school in 2017, moving to the spacious and light-filled premises at the Station in January 2019. She encountered a number of barriers along the way, being told she was too young, too inexperienced and not having the right type of business model. Undeterred, Charlotte rose to the challenge and has achieved her goal.
She now offers a breadth of dance classes, leading to exams if desired, across the generations, from as young as two through to seated dance classes for the elderly. She has recently branched into offering singing, for children, the aptly-named major and minor classes, drawing on the talent of fellow alumna Sophie Montgomery to lead these groups.
Charlotte says: “I opened the Charlotte Jacqueline School of Dance as a way of providing other children in rural settings the same chance I had to experience dance and theatre arts. I have a strong community ethic and love nothing more than taking my students to perform at local events and care homes. I wanted to stay in the Dales but there weren’t any jobs in the performing arts so I set up my business so I could secure my future in the place that I care for and love so much.”
Charlotte’s two passions are the rural way of life and dancing and she has fused these together to create something special. Keen to support any local community, Charlotte actively shares her love of dance with many other local groups. She can frequently be found volunteering her time to choreograph for local village choirs, amateur dramatics and pantomimes. She is always looking to enrich her students’ dance experiences. If opportunities are available, for example a taster day with the Northern Ballet, Charlotte will personally take students, without charge. She offers payment plans and a second-hand uniform store. A key value of hers is that no one should be excluded from dance.