The winning entry 2017!

Dance Essay 2017

By Brodie Reekie

I started dancing when I was about 3 years old. I went to Morag Alexander Ballet School, stopped when I was 5 and didn’t dance again until I joined a street dance class in North Berwick at the age of 9. But I didn’t dance for long and got involved in a variety of drama groups instead.  In particular the East Linton Pantos which I did from P5-S1.

I loved acting but I missed dancing and about 2 years ago I joined Haddington School of Dance and Music. When I began I took 2 classes a week, I now take 5 and when I dance it makes me feel like I’m floating in my own little bubble. It’s my own little space and in two years I’ve come a long way. And last year I was able to combine acting and dancing by performing in the Brunton Theatre’s panto Aladdin. I loved it and wouldn’t have been chosen if I hadn’t had the experience of dancing in Haddington.

My three bucket list dance goals are;

  • to be able to do an aerial cartwheel
  • to do the splits
  • and to dance more (even though I dance five times a week!)

I just love to dance;  dancing in my room, making up dances with friends, making music video choreography and never showing people.

But what is it about dancing that I love? Well, I love dancing with other people, I feel free when I am dancing unlike being in the real world I can be confident with my body.  And I love all kinds of dance from tap, to jazz, to ballet, to creating numbers for musical theatre. And I love performing to an audience; a flood of the adrenaline rushes through my body which makes me get nervous and excited at the same time.

When I leave school I want to study dance and dream about travelling to London and joining Trinity Laban to either study musical theatre or dance. Then when I get older I want to own a dance studio/company in London and do shows in the fringe, travel abroad and lead classes.

I will never stop dancing.

The winning entries 2016!

Essay Contest Haddington School of Dance and Music

Emma Hotchkiss

Essay Contest Haddington School of Dance and Music

Before I started at HSDM, I had little confidence and struggled to do new things. So starting here was very scary for me but everyone was so welcoming and supportive. Coming to a new town, meeting new people is daunting for anyone but HSDM made it 10x easier.

I attend Theatre School on a Saturday and enjoy every second of it. I have grown so much in that class and I now put myself forward for solos. I never thought when I first started I would be able to sing by myself in front of a big audience. Theatre School has taught me lots of techniques on how to improve my performance level. I love performing and making people smile when I perform. One of my biggest achievements is when I had a part in Cinderella. That brought my confidence levels up by a million. One of my proudest moments is when I was in the Fringe 2014. Not many kids my age can say they have taken part in one of the biggest festivals in Scotland.

I have been dancing all my life and I hope to carry on. Since I have started contemporary classes, my dancing skills have improved tremendously and are getting better. Dancing helps me get all my emotions out and relieve stress. I dance at home whenever I get the chance to and I am still begging my parents to get the garage converted into a dance studio! I am doing many things I never thought I could do thanks to the help of Fern. She is always so determined to help you do the best you possibly can. She has pushed me so I can now do turns and tricks that I see professional dancers do. I LOVE dancing and singing and coming to HSDM has made me love it even more and I always look forward to my next class.

I am so happy to be trusted to help out in Pre-School classes and sometimes help in holiday schools. Thanks to HSDM I have made lots of new friends and I am much happier since I have started here. In 3 years of coming here I have achieved so much and I want to continue to develop my skills. With this scholarship I would be able to extend my dance knowledge and learn new styles of dance.  I would love to start Jazz or Commercial, I would love to try a style that is different from what I normally do.

When people ask me to tell them what HSDM has done for me, I get teary and I could talk forever about how much dance, music and HSDM have done for me. Being a teenager is hard but coming here makes it just that little bit easier. Thank you.


I first came across Red Flame Dance, as it was then, when I was coming to Happy Days Mother and Toddlers at Newton Port Church Hall. There was an advert up for “Ballroom Dancing” and, being a big fan of Strictly, thought I would give it a go! Well, from small beginnings on my part, being persuaded to join the drama side, a few Pantomimes later and a transfer to Tap see me being a regular member of the now Haddington School of Dance and Music!

Tap dancing has been great for me- you would think being a musician that I would find it easier, but my co-ordination for feet is not as good as my hands and it has been a real brain strain at times! However, the teachers and the other members of the class make it a lot easier. When I first started, the tap steps of shuffle, ball change, and time steps meant nothing to me- I was most definitely starting from the beginning. After a few years, a lot of blood sweat and tears, and my fair share of bumps and bruises, I feel I now know and can even demonstrate a few steps!

Being a more “senior” member of the group, I certainly feel that it takes me longer to learn the dances than the “young ones” but the beauty and delight of the dance classes means that we all learn from each other. I have seen a few of these young ones move on and develop and that is another delight of the dance classes. It gives you confidence, both outwardly and inwardly, to put yourself out there and perform.

The highlight of the year, though, is always the performances. I do go through a state of “I will never remember this dance” for about two or three months but then it eventually sinks in. When we have on our costumes, the lights go up and the music starts, the adrenalin overrides the nerves and the performances are always a great success! If nothing else, by then we just have to go for it!

Dancing is a great all round brain trainer, aerobic exercise, and general fitness improver and helps all aspects of our lives, including keeping the brain fit and healthy. In today’s modern world of a fast paced technology screen based life, I find dancing a great stress reliever. I can escape from my day to day world of being a mum and teacher and dancing gives me some very important “me” time- a win win situation!

Haddington School of Dance and Music

Pippa McNeil

I love dancing! There are so many things that I enjoy about it. I love going to my dancing lessons and then trying out the new things that I have learned at home. I’m enjoying practicing for our dancing show at the moment and I like being able to go home and show my mummy the new things that I’ve learned. Sometimes, I even get my mummy to dance with me! I like to be able to show off what I can do, so I’m really looking forward to our show.

Every week I look forward to Fridays because that is the day that I go to my tap and jazz lessons. The lessons are always great fun and I have really enjoyed meeting the other girls that go too. Even though I was a little nervous to start with, I have made some friends with other people in the dance class.

My dancing lessons help keep me fit and I can have fun at the same time.

I think that my dance teacher is very good. She is very understanding and helps us to do things better if we make a mistake. I want to be as good at dancing as she is when I am older.

When I am at home I love to dance to whatever music is on in our house.

Being able to dance is really important to me. I think that I am good at dancing and I have loved learning things about both tap and jazz.

What does dance mean to me?


I currently dance two days a week and I absolutely love the time that I’ve spent at the studio! After taking up dance at Haddington about two years ago I have made so many amazing friends that I get to see every week and everyone at the studio has made me feel so welcome from the minute I arrived.

When I dance it feels as if all my school work and problems almost disappear for my 45 and 60 minute sessions at the studio, I absolutely love everybody at the studio because everyone is just so nice! I have been dancing since I was about 5 years old and I would never regret it because it has brought me so many amazing opportunities and I just love dancing. Last year I won a year of free dance classes and I decided to take up contemporary along with the current classes I was already taking, Tap and Jazz. Ever since I started contemporary I have loved it so much because it is just something else to me because I feel so free in contemporary as you can add your own twist to the amazing choreography. I am really upset that my contemporary classes are about to come to an end but it has been an amazing year and I think that I have really progressed as a dancer and found to love and experiment with different styles of dance than I wouldn’t  usually stick too.

A lot has changed about the studio since I came here and it has definitely been for the better as we have such amazing premises for us to be able to have, we are all very lucky. Dance has always been a part of me and hopefully it always will, because it helps me to clear my head and also become stronger and more independent as a person. I also believe that dancing has made me much better at working as a group because I wouldn’t be a dancer like I am today without the other girls around me. I would like to thank everybody at the studio because I have had such an amazing two years at the studio and I would recommend the studio to everyone!

Haddington School of Dance and Music

The Life of Dancing

Emma Delahooke

Dancing is my favourite thing in the whole world, and because my feet understand the movement, My teacher is very kind, and she teaches us new things all the time, but some things are the same, and I like the place I do it, and after dancing the cafe has my favourite food.

I really like that they do shows, because they are all about dancing, and I like what we have to do in the show, and I like what kind of dancing we have to do in the show.

My dance lessons are lots of fun.

Essay Competition Entry 2016

Daisy Ingram

I love dancing as it is expressing your feelings and losing yourself to the music. When I first started dancing at Haddington School of Dance and Music we had just moved house and I hadn’t made many friends and I met a girl there who is at my school and is my friend now. I have been dancing for seven years now and six have been at Haddington. Now I do jazz lyrical. In jazz I love making myself bend and leap and to be able to feel the beat in my movements. I do tap dancing too. In tap I love everything fast and fun, and enjoy learning new stuff to challenge myself more. I also have just started helping out with the younger ones’ ballet, tap and jazz class on Friday afternoon to get them ready for the show. I love helping them do their dances and then doing my own classes as well. When I dance, I can take my thoughts away from all the things that might make me feel worried and keep all the happy thoughts. It is a great way of keeping fit and I always get excited when I get new shoes or my outfit for the show. The teachers are amazing and encouraging and the thing that makes Thursday’s special is dancing with all my friends. I could never imagine not dancing and look forward to coming to dance classes for many years to come.

Dance essay competition


I’ve had a difficult unreal experience, and dance has helped me get out of it.

Dancing for me isn’t just a hobby, it’s my safe haven. When I dance I can let go and leave my worries and burdens behind.

I’ve been dancing for a very long time, I started when I was 3 years old. I loved it but I made a decision to join a different sport and eventually this compromised my dancing. I fell in love with basketball, and apparently I was good at it. I was blinded by this and decided to give up ballet to be able to fully grow as an athlete, not realising at the time I was giving up a part of myself. Then an incident prohibited me from continuing on with basketball, it was too emotionally painful. I’m not gonna say what happened but let’s just say it’s extremely unlucky. Then my dad left and that was the darkest period of my life, and battling the emotions became difficult. So I decided to leap back into dance again and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. It lets me escape, I feel normal and I can learn how to express my emotions while having fun. It keeps me motivated and I look forward to stepping into the studio. Having one of my classes for free could do so much for me and my family. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t continue dancing it makes me who I am. This studio has helped me appreciate dancing again and gave me a chance to truly focus and grow as a dancer and a person.

No I’m not doing this for sympathy, I don’t want any. I don’t mind sharing my story if it could help another to realise the benefits and help dance can provide. I encourage everyone to try dancing because what I’ve realised is dancing isn’t just a hobby or an activity it’s a peace of mind, and if dancing has managed to help me why can’t it help you too.

Essay Contest Haddington School of Dance and Music


Here I am with a poem to say

Why dancing blows my mind away.


I started dancing when I was wee

It made me feel alive and free


At home I danced in my own shows

It made me forget all my woes


I started to dance at Redflame

Though now it has a different name


All my teachers are number one

They’re really lively and lots of fun


Dancing helps when I am sad

When I’m feeling good or bad


It lifts me up, it calms me down

As soon as I hear that wonderful sound


I’ll cross my fingers and wish on a star

That my dancing journey takes me far!

What Dance means to me


I’ve always been interested in dance. Since I was little I’ve loved watching things like High School Musical, The Next Step, Grease and Dance Academy. I love watching people dance, the way they move their body and feet, the lovely outfits they wear, it can be sad or happy depending on the type of dance and music. Personally I absolutely love dancing at parties and weddings were people just want to have fun. I sometimes think it would be good to fly, dance sort of feels like I imagine flying to be like! I love dancing in my room and practicing things in the garden on sunny days.

I’ve also enjoyed gymnastics in the past so finding a class has combined the enjoyment of both. I struggle with my weight too so finding a class that is lots of fun it’s a great way to exercise. Every week I leave class feeling hot and sweaty, waking up the next day with achy muscles lets me know that I worked hard in my class and that’s a good feeling. I’m looking forward to improving and possibly joining in with other classes, I’d really like to try some contemporary dance. I’m also really excited to be taking part in the musical madness week, not only for dance and fitness but also meeting other people with similar interests. My confidence has improved since taking these classes which has been a really positive thing.
I love coming to coming to Haddington school of dance and music, everyone is so friendly, the staff and the other boys and girls I’ve met. I like the tricks and movements I’ve learned and it’s a lovely atmosphere. Also, I love your smoothies! Tuesdays have to be my favourite day of the week knowing that I have dance later in the day. I would be over the moon if I won a scholarship.

What Does Dance Mean to Me?

When I wake up on a Friday morning…. All I can think about is, not school that I have to face but that at exactly 3:30 I will walk into the exact same hall that built my confidence. I have been dancing since the age of 5. When I was 5 I saw a leaflet in a local supermarket which advertised Tap Dancing. I have been Dancing Ever since, as I got older I decided I wanted to take up another style of dance so I started jazz. Ever since the day I started I have changed ….. My confidence levels have increased and I have become wiser and stronger as a person. When I step out onto the dance floor I imagine myself standing in front of my friends and family about to perform. When I dance I feel like a different person, all of my problems disappear. When I dance I feel like I’m in my own sort of bubble, all my worries slip away.

I would be a totally different person if I did not dance. I can’t put into words how much dance means to me it lets me express my true personality without feeling nervous or judged. I have always wanted to start yet another style of dance I have many styles that I would like to try, such as Ballet, Lyrical and Contemporary. Ballet dancers move so elegantly and beautifully, I have always wanted to have the standard of technique that the ballet dancers have. Lyrical dancers are so different they use so many Moves and techniques to tell a story; whenever I see a lyrical dancer I fall in love with their elegance. Contemporary dancers use so many unique and modern dance moves which helps me to see the modernisation of dance. If I got the scholarship for a year of a free dance class I would be beyond happy! Dancing means so much to me and to expand my knowledge and love for dance would be fantastic. Dancing is a big part of my life I do not know where I would be without it! Haddington School of dance and music has made me feel so welcome and so relaxed I love the staff and fellow pupils at the school. I am excited to watch our dance school grow!

By Jessica Martin

Congratulations Jessica! You win a free dance class for a year!

Essay Contest Haddington School of Dance and Music

The winning entry 2014!

Congratulations to Betty who wins a free class for a year!

Leaving with Sweaty Jazz Trainers and a Big Grin!

Betty Goodall

Haddington School of Dance and Music, those times in the week I can never miss, for those minutes and hours I can be myself, crazy, enthusiastic and loud. When I step into the great big hall, I escape any problems with the real world.

Jazz lightens up my Friday afternoons. The classes make me have faith in myself. As I finish a jazz pirouette I feel proud and like nothing else can get better, but as I finish a jazz class I feel a great sense of achievement. Haddington School of Dance and Music has made me realise what dancing is all about, enjoying yourself and feeling like that you can do anything. That feeling when you slip on jazz shoes, the happy adrenalin which makes my heart beat 100 times faster. As I dance I feel like there is no need to slow down or stop. I would like one day to be able to dance until I can’t any more.

I really love dancing because it makes me feel content and like a part of me has been found.

Theatre has made me feel more confident in who I am as a person. I can now speak to bigger groups of people and sing in front of them too, Being a part of a Theatre School makes me feel the need to get up on a Saturday morning. In theatre school I love making up my own stories and performing them to people. I also love to sing even though I’m not that good, but I feel like my voice has improved. I have been practising hard to get it better and I feel like the hard work I put in class pays off. I adore being at Haddington School of Dance and Music because I know that it will be a part of me forever.

So in the future I would love to take up more classes and do more styles of dance like ballet or tap. I am interested in ballet because it is graceful and looks beautiful but on the other hand I would love to do tap because I think I would enjoy myself because I love energetic styles of dancing.

I love putting myself up for a challenge and I will not stop until the challenge is completed. I love dancing and acting and singing because it gives me lots of joy and in the end i leave with sweaty jazz trainers and a big grin.

Betty Goodall

Runner Up!

Congratulations to Daisy who wins a free class for a month!

What dancing means to me.

I really like dancing. I like dancing to the music as it is relaxing and I like the challenge. When we do Jazz I like to do the splits, turns and lifts. It’s really cool when you’re doing the turns around and around. Everything around you seems to spin. When I have done my stretches I feel very bendy. I like the music to be quite loud if it is a good song. I like the challenging steps because they are the best. I like the tap routines especially the eight step because it’s one of the hardest that i’ve ever done. I also like doing tap with the cane and hat and other props. When i dance in my jazz classes I feel very expressive and graceful and energetic. I like that the teachers are very encouraging. When I am finished I am out of breath and tired but I feel good because it makes me happy and excited and buzzing and fantastic!

I like doing the two classes because they are different from each other. Tap is fast and complicated and jazz is calming and fun. I like meeting new people that I don’t know and in the classes I feel that I can achieve something that I didn’t know before while having lots of fun. I like taking dance lessons because they’re make me feel happy and I like learning all the new routines. My classes are very important to me.


Runner Up!

Congratulations to David who wins a free class for a month!

My life used to be terrible. I used to be teased almost every day, I had only a few friends and few people would want to be around me if they had a choice. But when I was in Primary 3, my mum asked me if I wanted to start taking hip-hop classes. I agreed and my life took a turn for the better.
One of the people in my school had joined the same class as me, but he was one of the people who would regularly make fun of me. I was quite anxious about this at first but it turned out that he was quite nice after all and that he was only trying to fit in with the other people who made fun of me. Since none of the other children from my school were there, this was fine. We became good friends but a year or so later he moved to Cape Town, South Africa. I was quite downhearted but a lot of his friends had started acting more friendly towards me. By this point I had considerably more friends and much less people were making fun of me. I was far happier than I was a year or two ago.
Up until then, my friend and I had really been the only ones in the class but a few other people had started too. I quickly made friends with the newcomers and started having more fun than ever. I had realised that music was improving my life.
Not only did music help me make friends, it also helped me to express myself. I took up the cornet and the guitar, but sadly the latter did not last for long. I began to play and create songs to express my feelings. I may have become attached to my cornet and most recently the piano, but dancing holds a place in my heart for being the first of the expressive arts that I have truly loved.
In short, I am afraid that if I had no music in my life I would not have met the friends I have made through brass and dancing. I hope that music will continue to improve my life for many years to come.

David Coventry

Runner Up!

Congratulations to Itske who wins a free class for a month!


Dance is an expressive art that can show your emotions and style. The movement can flow with the rhythm of the music. You continually have to practice to improve your performance and style of dance. For Ballet you need to have good balance and rhythm, like for any kind of dance, you also have pure strength to hold up your graceful arms and legs.

In ballet my favourite piece of music is Dying Swan from Swan Lake I get so absorbed in the music I feel like the amazing Sylvie Guillem. When I am older I want to be a graceful ballet dancer like her. She is so elegant and beautiful and outstanding I would love to be as famous and artistic as her.

I love performing in front of big crowds of people, like when I danced at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London it was an amazing experience. It takes me back to when I was two and we were on Greek Island called Cos. We were on the white beaches filled with shiny blue sea and the sea was filled with wonderful tropical fishes. There was this wooden stage with a hanging tyre. I decided to climb the big wooden stage and play on the tyre, disco music drifted from the bar and I got off the tyre and started to dance, it felt amazing. From that day forward I have always loved dancing and that’s way my parents started taking me to dance lessons.

I started going to this dance place in Edinburgh I enjoyed it at first, but then all my friends stopped and i felt alone so I quit and started going to this other place and I really thought that this was the place until everyone stopped going and that was the end of that dance school. My mum searched for another month for a place for me to use my skills and start a dancing career and then suddenly whilst she was looking she noticed this place called Haddington School of Dance and Music. She looked on the website, it was great so we went there the next week and went to the reception and the lovely lady told my mum all about it. My mum asked if i could go to the ballet class and the kind lovely lady said yes, so from that day on I have been dancing at Haddington School of Dance and Music and I love it. I love the way they teach and they make you feel so welcome. Some people take dance for the fun of it or just for a hobby, but for me it’s my passion. Haddington School of Dance and Music is an outstanding dance school and all the people are lovely and kind. The building is amazing and inside it’s eye-catching, I also love the way that we have to do bar exercises first and then do freedom work, that’s why I love to dance.

By Itske Hooftman

Runner Up!

Congratulations to Pippa, who wins a free class for a month!

What dancing means to me

Dancing makes me feel like my body is in control of what I am doing. It makes all my worry’s come out of me and into the air. Dancing makes me feel relaxed and focused on the positive thing in live like my hobbies and my family/friends. It also makes me feel respected and people take into account my feelings and thoughts. I have lots of friends at Haddington school of dance and music that look out for me, and teachers.

My favourite dancing is Tap and Jazz I love the way that they make me feel and the tap shoes just clicking every time I move. I love my dancing teachers they are very kind and they respect me for who I am. I don’t think I will ever quit dancing.

Thanks for reading.

Pippa Smith