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‘Dance and get fit’ says former star
Buy this photo » Louise Benoist in her studio
A FORMER child dancing star nicknamed ‘Electric Feet’ is hoping the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing can help her to persuade the people of Abingdon to get up and dance.
Louise Hall was a regular in the pages of the Oxford Mail in the 1970s and 80s, as she travelled the country collecting dance trophies and titles galore.
Now Louise Benoist, the 51-year-old mum-of-two is hoping her skills – and what was a former Abingdon nightclub – will help her create a new legion of dancers in the town.
She said: “There’s so much interest in dancing at the moment thanks to programmes like Strictly which show normal people becoming fitter and great at dancing, even when some of them seem to start off with two left feet.”
Ms Benoist lives in Boars Hill and teaches fitness and dance classes at the Results Health Club in Abingdon.
She said: “It’s my aim to make 2013 a year when as many people as possible of all ages learn to dance and experience its fitness benefits.
She added: “Ironically, Results’ gym occupies a building which was once Stratton’s nightclub – where many of the people in this town danced in their youth.
“I’m hoping they will get back on the dance floor and discover that dancing can mean fitness and fun. It might seem like hard work at first but they will soon get hooked.”
As a child Louise also took some persuading that dance was a good idea.
She said: “My mum took me along to ballet when I was just two, and for weeks I just stood there not wanting to join in. But eventually I did and I haven't stopped.”
She moved into tap and modern dance and was tutored by local dance legend John Padbury.
She said: “Soon I was travelling the country with my parents, competing for national titles.”
She won the tap dancing category of the National Arts Award competition every year from the age of 11 to 16, beating hundreds of other youngsters.
Ms Benoist also won the all-round performer award at the same competition one year and she appeared in pantomimes at the Oxford Playhouse.
She recalls: “I enjoyed it, but looking back it was intensive and very competitive for a child.
“I remember times standing in the wings with my heart pounding with nerves.”
At 19 she had to decide whether to move into the professional dance world, but chose instead to teach.
She set up the Louise School of Dance and Fitness to pass the skills she had learned on to a new generation of children.
But now she is targeting parents and even grandparents.
She said: “What was once a sticky-carpeted nightclub bar is now a fabulous new fitness studio, just waiting for the people of Abingdon to learn to dance and get fit – and I’m ready to teach them.”
For more information call Louise Benoist on 01865 735571 or email email@example.com