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The Joy of dance

Monday, 9th September, 2019

Dance students present Joy Baldwin (centre) with a cake and plant on Saturday. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Dance students present Joy Baldwin (centre) with a cake and plant on Saturday. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Michael Murphy

Parents and students helped Joy Baldwin celebrate 68 years as a dance teacher on Saturday.

The popular instructor has been a constant in the city’s dance circles over many years, teaching thousands of local children the fine art of dancing.

Joy, who is almost  78, says she has no plans to retire.

“I just love dance, and I just love working with the children,” she said.

“I’ve been asked several times  when I’m going to retire, but I’m not, I can’t.”

Joy has 44 students on her books at the moment and teaches out of the old St Joes High School in Lane Street.

Her career in dance began when she was just five years old. She tap-danced her way to hearty applause in front of an appreciative crowd at the Senior Citizens Concert, a relationship she has maintained over seven decades; her studnets are still regular performers at the annual celebration.

Joy began her career as a teacher when she was just ten, and remembers teaching out of the old fire station.

Nowadays she mainly teaches tap, jazz, ballet, and hip hop. Joy will soon organise a ballroom dancing class for older students.  

Highland dancing was her forte, though its popularity has waned over the years.

Joy produced several state champions over the years, and even led a local troupe on a tour of Scotland for competition in 1979.

She said it was a huge thrill to see her students win awards in the UK, but the trip took an unusual turn following the death of a member of the royal family.

“The highlight of the trip was trying to get out of Scotland to get home because that weekend Lord Mount Batton got murdered,” Joy recalls.

Louis Mountbatten, his grandson Nicholas, and two others were killed by a bomb set by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The United Kingdom went into lockdown.

Joy and her tiny dancers were frisked at the airport.

“They went through everything,” she said, adding that a few of their trophies got damaged.

It was memorable trip for Joy, even her son had a brush with authorities at Balmoral Castle.

“Coming out, my youngest son looked at one of the soldiers on guard and threw a toy koala bear in the air,” she said.

The soldier couldn’t help but burst into laughter, but his ranking officer was not amused and sent him back to the barracks.

“My son thought that was the highlight of the trip - he got one of the Queen’s guards in trouble.”

Joy said she would recommend dancing to every child.

“It teaches them self confidence,” she said.

“I loan my students out to productions.

“Anyone that does anything for charity, we support that.

“And I also encourage them to seek out other teachers, I think its good for them.

“I encourage that because they can always learn something from someone else.”

Parents organised the snap celebration for Joy on Saturday, and presented her with a cake and a plant.

They think she’s great.

“She makes the girls feel really important and brings out the best in them,” said Kate Butler, who has two daughters dancing with Joy.

“She creates good interaction and good discipline in general, and teaches students to be part of a community that is incredibly supportive.”

What makes Joy such as great teacher? 

Kate said: “It’s her passion and honesty with the students, her knowledge, and a love for each and every individual.”

For more information about the Joy Baldwin School of Dance phone 8087 7582 or 040842 361, or go to the Joy Baldwin School of Dance Facebook page.

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