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This is day 7 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)
During a really ghastly period in my personal and professional life a few years ago, only one thing put a genuine smile on my face. Tania Fairbairn’s National Dance classes at Central School of Ballet were just a half-hour class once a week, last thing in the day at about 7.00pm, but I remember them as if it were yesterday, because she and they helped to keep me sane.

Apart from the fact that she’s delightful to work with, exudes calm and has a fabulously dry sense of humour, the children loved doing the dances she taught them so much, they would beg her to be allowed to do them again. When you play music for people who enjoy dancing, it’s fun and rewarding, and their energy feeds yours, and the whole experience is exhilarating.

Turkey in the Straw was the music for the Virginia Reel, and I remember Tania warning me kindly that I was going to know the music extremely well after a while, because you have to play it so many times for one dance. It’s such a simple tune, and yes, I did have to play it many, many times, but I couldn’t get bored watching those children have such a good time, or working with Tania. As soon as I hear the tune, I can see that studio at the top of the school, remember the bright lights inside and the dark November nights outside, and as awful as everything else was at the time, it brings back happy memories.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist