Turning a passion into a rewarding career - Pioneering People podcast
Karen Berry has had a 33-year career in dance, as a performer, researcher, choreographer and teacher.
Among other things, she is a teacher training manager at the Royal Ballet School in London and has designed courses for both the Royal Academy of Dance and the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
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In 1987, Karen set up what was then known as Karen Berry’s School of Dance after completing a residency at Dundee Rep school. When asked what gave her the courage to set up at such a young age she says, “I think that’s the naivety of youth. I had no understanding of what I was getting into and actually now if I look back I can't believe the decisions I made.”
In 2002, Karen changed her business name to Danscentre and acquired a building to establish a permanent base for her business where she expanded her offerings to contemporary, ballet, modern, tap and even qualifications in dance. In 2008, she took the decision to form a business partnership with former pupil and dancer, Michelle Whyte, now a co-principal of the school.
Throughout Karen’s career her motivation and drive has stemmed from her desire to learn. “Dance is an area of science or pedagogy that's not been developed in the past so it was ripe for more research and development. It's almost like having a pioneering role...it's really making new paths, assumptions and connections. That's continued into the work I'm doing today,” she said.
Karen credits her success to always being open to new challenges before adding: “Don't be frightened to take chances and go with your gut feeling.”
When asked what she hopes for the arts industry in the future Karen says: “We live in a world where academic subjects are so valued people can often forget the value that the arts can give to society. The challenge is to make sure that arts are always high on the priority.”
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