This month, Salford dance school JD Dance will be celebrating their fifth year of being open.
Owner, Jennie Doolan started the school after returning home from numerous dance contracts abroad and was keen to make a difference in her area.
Jennie said: “I was so quick to run away from Manchester, I just didn’t like it there, so I thought if I set up something I love then I’ll want to stay here.
“I was nearly 25 and everybody around me was doing really good stuff with their lives and I just had no responsibility here. I wanted to make something of myself instead of running from job to job. I always said I wanted a dance school when I was younger so for me it was the only thing that I wanted to do and luckily it worked out.”
After setting up her first ever dance class and nobody turning up, Jennie wanted to give up. After words of encouragement from her mum, Jennie persevered and now runs one of the biggest community groups in Salford.
JD Dance provides a space not only for children to dance but is somewhere where they feel safe and can be themselves. Jennie is both a teacher and an advocate for the children she teaches, and this is evidenced in both her relationship with the children and also their families.
Jennie said: “I only got so far in my dance career because that one person made a difference in my life, all it takes is one person. That one person you listen to, and for me obviously to be that person for so many kids that’s enough. I’ve probably touched hundreds and hundreds of kids’ lives in the last few years.
“I know that I’ll go to Tesco, or I’ll go to Asda and they’ll say, ‘Oh that’s Jennie, she used to teach me dance’. It’s just that difference when people are running with their open arms to give you a hug. It’s important, because the worlds not getting better it’s getting worse, so you’ve got to be somebody that makes a difference otherwise who is?
“That’s what it comes down to, I work in a school, I work with children, and I know what the worlds like out there for them as they get to teenagers so if they can stay at my dance school and stay out of trouble, I’d prefer that. There’s been times where they’ve said, ‘Jennie I’ve got so much homework to do’ and I just say, ‘bring it to dance, we’ll do half an hour homework and half an hour dancing’.”
Despite the ‘grand’ opening of her new studio being tainted by the pandemic, Jennie still hit many memorable milestones over the past few years. From doing a performance with The Lowry to taking part in Manchester International Festival, JD Dance continue to make a name for themselves in the community.
With such a successful first five years, Jennie finds it difficult to see how things could get much better. With plans for a bigger studio in the works there is one other plan on Jennie’s agenda.
Jennie explained: “I want to take the kids to Disney Land to do the show for local dance schools but because of Covid it’s been pushed back a few times. I’d fundraise for it because it’s such an underprivileged area and not all these kids will get the chance to go to Disney Land.
“Some of my 14-year-olds have told me how much they’d love to go, so I’d love to give them that opportunity.”