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'I thought I had lost everything' - a dancer who thought it was the end of her career starts her own school

PUBLISHED: 10:41 17 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:45 17 September 2019

Ashley Smith has started her very own dance school at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Ashley Dance Company offers dance classes for children and adults in ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, musical theatre and contemporary. Photo: Emily Thomson

Ashley Smith has started her very own dance school at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Ashley Dance Company offers dance classes for children and adults in ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, musical theatre and contemporary. Photo: Emily Thomson

Emily Thomson

Girls or boys who dream of becoming ballerinas are put into dance classes as soon as they can walk.

The Ashley Dance Company, school of dance in Thetford, classes held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Emily ThomsonThe Ashley Dance Company, school of dance in Thetford, classes held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Emily Thomson

And after years of hard work a select few will make it onto the stage, which was the case for Thetford dance teacher Ashley Smith. But when her time in the spotlight was over, and her job as a dance teacher was unexpectedly taken away from her, Ms Smith thought that she had lost everything she had ever worked for since she was three-years-old.

Now, the 28-year-old, who has previously performed with the famous dance studio Pineapple, has said she will not give up her passion, and has started her very own school in Thetford.

Ms Smith said: "In April my contract with another dance school was ended very unexpectedly. I had no idea it was coming so when it happened I thought I had lost everything.

"I have spent my whole life training as a dancer since I was three, and dancing professionally from the age of 16 until 21, So to lose all I had worked for in a single day, I was devastated."

Ashley Smith, owner of Ashley Dance Company,  teaching dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley SmithAshley Smith, owner of Ashley Dance Company, teaching dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley Smith

Not knowing what to do and adamant she did not want to give up dancing, Ms Smith spoke to friends and family who encouraged her to start her very own business.

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Within 24-hours, the Ashley Dance School was created and within two weeks Ms Smith launched a timetable with more than 50 students who had signed up.

Only six months later, the Ashley Dance Company has more than 200 students, and she says it is a dream come true.

Students of the Ashley Dance Company, a Thetford dance school, performing at a community event. Photo: Ashley SmithStudents of the Ashley Dance Company, a Thetford dance school, performing at a community event. Photo: Ashley Smith

"I feel emotional thinking about it now because I'm so proud, I never thought I was capable of doing this, in such a short amount of time and all by myself," said Ms Smith.

"It's just amazing and I want everyone to know that sometimes things always don't go to plan, but with some hard work, determination and a positive mind-set it's never as bad as it seems."

Ms Smith, who first started dancing at Attitude Dancers Academy in Thetford, says she is excited to be back in her home town offering classes to dancers of all ages.

Currently being held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in the town, Ms Smith teaches ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, musical theatre and contemporary.

Ms Smith added: "It's been an absolutely incredible 6 months branching out on my own, passing on my passion and knowledge for performing arts to the community I grew up in my whole life."

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