Awards in memory of female dance pioneer announced to mark International Women’s Day

8 Mar 2018

Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Phoenix Dance Theatre have launched the Nadine Senior Awards today to commemorate the achievements of one remarkable woman in Leeds. Nadine Senior (1939-2016) was a Yorkshire-born visionary dance teacher and educationist, and founding principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

An award fund of £8,000 has been raised through kind donations and proceeds from a special Gala held at West Yorkshire Playhouse in October of last year to celebrate Nadine’s life and legacy.

Tales of Nadine’s generosity and determination to make dance education accessible and affordable have inspired the awards, which will enable three promising young dancers from disadvantaged backgrounds in the region to access dance experiences of the highest quality and undertake professional training in the city of Leeds.

“We are really pleased that the funds raised from the Nadine Senior Gala in 2017 will allow us to support more young talent through both Phoenix Dance Academy and Northern School of Contemporary Dance” says Janet Smith MBE, Principal and Artistic Director of Northern School of Contemporary Dance. “At a time when students face real financial difficulty to meet their cost of living while studying, this fund means this year we can provide three awards in Nadine’s name to help support eligible students who might not otherwise be able to undertake or complete our specialist dance education to follow their dreams of a career in dance.”

Nadine, who’s teaching and leadership in Leeds over three decades, first at Harehills Middle School and then at Northern School of Contemporary Dance as the institution’s founding Principal, widened opportunities and raised aspirations for children and young people through dance, radically transforming the city’s cultural landscape. Nadine recognised and fostered the potential in young people through educational dance that built their creativity, expressive skills and confidence.

Janet continues: “Many of our aspiring young dance artists come from low income families and the intensive study required, often including evening and weekend rehearsal, makes it difficult for students to support themselves through part-time jobs. We aim to attract young people with the most talent and potential, regardless of background, and the awards will make a real difference in meeting this mission.

Former pupils, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, went on to study and perform professionally at the highest level and Phoenix Dance Theatre was formed, born of talent originally fostered by Nadine. The company’s current Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, is a former pupil of Nadine’s from Harehills Middle School for whom Nadine was an inspirational role model, mentor and close friend.