Chigwell dance school going from strength to strength

PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 September 2015

Dance Shak

Dance Shak


Tucked away in Chigwell, a family run dance school, only 18 months old, is thriving.

Youngsters posing before a lesson at The Dance ShakYoungsters posing before a lesson at The Dance Shak

Dance Shak already boasts an alumni of English Youth Ballet dancers but the modest brain behind the centre, Nicki Khan, says she owes its speedy success to the community feel it creates.

Dance Shak really did start from humble beginnings. “My mum danced, my girls dance and I’ve always loved to dance,” Nicki explains. “Hainault doesn’t really have anything to get children active – so me and my daughters opened the dance school.

“It started off with just a few girls aged two-and-half. We started doing street dancing so the boys started coming and it just went from there.”

The school has gone from 13 members to more than 100 since it opened, which has been achieved with no advertising, but instead through word of mouth.

The Dance Shak pupils pictured at the Barking and Dagenham Dance FestivalThe Dance Shak pupils pictured at the Barking and Dagenham Dance Festival

“In our school we have so many different nationalities and ethnicities and people step out of their own little communities,” Nicki said. “It doesn’t matter what language you speak; everybody looks out for each other.”

This team spirit that Nicki talks about is not just among the children but the parents as well.

“When the girls performed in Southend recently, people still came down to see children besides their own.

The parents form friendships with one another. That is the great thing about dancing – everybody makes friends with people they never would.”

Dancers from The Dance Shak after winning the Essex Championships in November 2014Dancers from The Dance Shak after winning the Essex Championships in November 2014

Dance Shak currently resides at the Hainault Forest Community Association in Manford Way where the dancers train on carpeted floors with no mirrors.

However, the list of success stories keeps growing, proving mirrors are no measure of talent.

Nicki said: “We have dancers in the English Youth Ballet and we had two children who performed in Annie Junior for the summer. Five of our children modelled in the biggest dance catalogue – International Dance Supplies.

“We’ve performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End and two of our girls won a scholarship to America. Oh, and you can’t miss out the little boy who was in the Sainsbury’s advert too.”

Young ballerinas pictured during a lesson at The Dance ShakYoung ballerinas pictured during a lesson at The Dance Shak

The school, which also teaches tap and modern dance, doesn’t just cater to the competitive dancers.

“We have some children who spend 10, 11 hours dancing a week and we have some children who train for an hour and walk out happy. Some people just want to be part of something,” Nicki said.

Her hopes for the future of Dance Shak are ambitious: “Something for adults would be nice. Or maybe something for elderly people too; get them out and do a little bit of dance,” she said.

And why is it called Dance Shak? “My husband is called Shak and he lives with a wife and four daughters who do nothing but dance, so I thought it would be fitting to name the dance school after him.”

Dance Shak founder Nicki KhanDance Shak founder Nicki Khan

To find out more information about Dance Shak, contact Nicki Khan on 07946 642842.

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