Sidings Community Centre anniversary event for Chantraine dance teacher who ‘has changed thousands of lives’

Patricia Woodall who founded the UK Chantraine dance school. teaching children. Picture: Chantraine

Patricia Woodall who founded the UK Chantraine dance school. teaching children. Picture: Chantraine School of Dance UK - Credit: Archant

Forty years ago, Patricia Woodall nurtured a love of dance on a trip around Europe.

She learned about traditional dances in Ukraine and around central and eastern Europe, but what stuck was her final visit: she went to Paris where she met Françoise Chantraine, whose inclusive school of dance she then expanded to north west London.

That was in 1978.

Now, to celebrate four decades of Chantraine dance in community halls from Kilburn to Camden Town, the Sidings Community Centre is hosting an anniversary celebration tea dance, which Patricia will attend, this Saturday afternoon.

Patricia, who is now in her late 80s, has only recently stopped teaching.

Her friend and colleague Kate Green, who has taken over as the director of the UK branch of the Chantraine School of Dance, told the Ham&High of the remarkable impact Patricia has made in the community.

She said: “When she started the school, Patricia was already working with children. She was a teacher.

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“She had danced, and had a passion for dance, for all her life. She did more dancing than teaching, really.

“So she took a leave of absence and went travelling.

“On the way back to England she stopped in Paris. and – of course – she went to dance classes. There she discovered the Chantraine School.”

Chantraine dance, Kate explained, is dance “which doesn’t discriminate”. She said: “It’s not about competitions and recitals, it’s for everyone. We have always worked with people who might struggle with dyspraxia or disabilities.

“It’s dancing as expression.”

Kate explained Patricia had worked with thousands of people around north London over the decades. She’s really changed lives.

She added: “She took dance to so many different places, and was always bringing people over from the Chantraine School in France, too!

“From the start it was about mental health. Patricia has always recognised the value of physical activity on the mind!”

Saturday’s event runs from 3 till 5 at the Sidings centre in Brassey Road, West Hampstead. Dance groups perform their favourite number before tea and cake.