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In the summer of 2020, Pauline decide Debden Grange would become her new home. Having lived locally with her daughter Jo next door it was a big decision. Neither her nor her daughter, Jo, realised what a huge positive impact the move would have on both of their lives.

Debden Grange is a place focused on community living for those in their later years. The social calendar and events are as much ideas from the team as from the residents themselves. So when Jo visited Pauline and got talking to Village Manager, Tom Lee, about her dance school a partnership steeped in a shared love of dance and music was born.

Jo started the academy in a small studio and it now has over 150 classes running from ballet to tap, jazz, and modern. The academy caters from younger children all the way through to adults. She started to run weekly dance-based chair exercise classes for the residents when she was visiting her mum. The aim of them was to keep everyone moving, whatever their ability helping to strengthen their bodies and prevent falls, but always having fun along the way. Jo’s classes cater to the different abilities of residents in the community. Some of the exercises are chair based for those building up strength and others involve a wider range of movement. After the class, everyone gets together for a coffee in the lunge so it’s a very social affair. During lock down Jo moved the classes online to help everyone keep active and provide a source of interaction, in a time that could have been very lonely, for residents

The partnership was strengthened when Jo and the children from the academy put on a show as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations thrown at Debden Grange last year. It was an uplifting day and the performance was a highlight for many residents, who clapped and cheered throughout. Now the academy is heading to the World Dance Cup and Retirement Villages is a main sponsor of the team.

To see them off on the tour Debden Grange hosted a family fun, fundraising event at the weekend with Retirement Villages matching any donations on the day. Forte academy put on another show-stopping performance for all the residents following a packed afternoon tea in the lounge. This time the show had a twist, as after the children performed, residents did a take-over and showed some of the moves they’d picked up in Jo’s classes. The fun-filled afternoon was open to residents and families and we successfully raised £1,000 for Forte Dance Academy which should help them with their World Cup ambitions.

Tom Lee, Village Manager, commented, 

Our relationship with Jo and Forte Dance Academy is a very special one, that has grown from when we first met in 2020. Jo’s classes provide an essential, and much-loved activity for residents in the community looking to keep moving and have some fun. We are proud to be sponsoring, this local dance academy and its World Dance Cup ambitions. Everyone in our community wishes Jo all the very best in the competition.
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