Falkirk friends take Spanish dance steps

Former Stenhouse School of Dance pupils  Lisa Ambrose and Maggie Bel  reunite for Dance Proms''Picture: Michael Gillen
Former Stenhouse School of Dance pupils Lisa Ambrose and Maggie Bel reunite for Dance Proms''Picture: Michael Gillen
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Former dance school classmates will be reunited when their own students take part in a star-spangled event.

Lisa Ambrose and Maggie Bell will be standing in the wings when their talented young dancers take part in Dance Proms 2014 in front of a host of top performers and celebrities.

Lisa Ambrose and Maggie Bell reunite for Dance Proms.

Lisa Ambrose and Maggie Bell reunite for Dance Proms.

But the reunion is also acting as a catalyst for a link-up between Scottish and Spanish dancers.

Youngsters from the Stenhouse School in Falkirk have secured a sought-after place at the event which take place in London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 2.

The organisers chose 23 acts from around the world to take part in the showcase performance after teachers were invited to submit a short video of their dancers.

Stenhouse pupils took part in the public vote when they were up against two other dance schools from England, but romped away with the coveted place thanks to voting from family and friends.

But dance teacher Lisa was shocked to discover that one of the other acts taking part was from the Bell Theatre & Dance Company in Tenerife, run by her friend and former classmate Maggie Bell.

She said: “Maggie and I first met at St Francis Primary School, then both went to St Mungo’s. We were also pupils at Stenhouse School of Dance and members of both Falkirk’s Children and Youth Theatres. We’ve been friends ever since.”

However, leaving school they followed different career routes: Maggie went to the Manor School in Edinburgh to study dance, while Lisa went to university only to later decide to study at the Manor before taking up her teaching post with the Stenhouse School.

Maggie said: “I always knew that I wanted to dance and to travel – and I’m so glad that’s what I did.”

In 1980 she joined the Bluebell Girls, based at the Lido in Paris, a dance troupe known for its classically trained dancers who had grown too tall to be ballerinas, as well as their skimpy costumes.

For the next 12 years she toured the world, dancing professionally in countries including Japan, Italy, Spain, before finally settling in Puerto de le Cruz, Tenerife.

There she set up her own school offering lessons in ballet, tap, modern, musical theatre and Hawaiian. She also teaches English at a German school on the island.

“It’s very important for Spanish children to learn English as they must have it to get into university,” she explained.

Maggie uploaded a video of her students doing a Hawaiian dance and was delighted when they were invited to take part in Dance Proms – and even more surprised when she discovered students from her alma mater were also taking part.

Deciding to put the coincidence to good use, the friends agreed to finally put their plans for a link-up between the two schools into place.

Lisa said: “We’ve talked about it for years but Dance Proms really kicked it off. We hope to be able to spend time at each other’s schools teaching students and we’re hoping that work experience placements can also be set up.”

To be known as ‘Saltare’ - Spanish for jump, as well as being close to the word Saltire – the teachers will officially launch it at Dance Proms.

Plans were finalised when Maggie made a recent visit home to spend time with her parents, James and Margaret Bell, who live in Randyford Street, Falkirk, and her brother and sister.

Lisa added: “Things have changed a lot since we first attended dance school. There are so many different things that young people can get involved in nowadays that we have to make it both interesting and relevant.

“We hope that Saltare will open up opportunities for young dancers in Falkirk and Tenerife that they might not otherwise have.”