Stephanie Ferguson

It was like a Who’s Who of contemporary dance at Nadine Senior’s funeral last month. Richard Alston, Namron, David Hughes, Kenneth Tharp, Janet Smith were among the throng of dancers and choreographers paying their respects and tributes to Nadine, who died, aged 76, following a stroke.

Founder of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, she first planted the seeds of dance creativity at Harehills School in Leeds, where she taught PE, and they later bore fruit world-wide. Her former pupils went on to illustrious careers, from choreographer Darshan Singh Bhuller, now based in New York, to Sharon Watson, artistic director of Phoenix Dance.  original Phoenix line-up were there with members of RJC and former Phoenix dancer Pamela Johnson, now with the Arts Council. The thanksgiving service, which had an Oscar ceremony theme, was conducted by the Rev Roger Quick, a personal friend, who used to work at the NSCD and took Holy Orders after advice from the principal, his favourite atheist. Colombian artist Tanya Cusan-Espinosa sang Cantando, a haunting lament to her guitar, while jazz singer Ros Lewis sang Cake walking Babies from Home as the congregation left the Lawnswood crematorium chapel.

The hosts were John Travis and Alison Beckett, former lecturers, who read out a wide range of tributes, including words from the CC Dance Section’s Mike Dixon,  to Nadine, who famously threatened to return her MBE if she didn’t get the funding she needed. Fearless, determined, she pitched in headlong to get the best for her students having a go at government ministers or whoever stood in her way. The celebration of her remarkable life continued at Seven Arts in Leeds, her favourite haunt, where the White Eagles Jazz Band – she was a firm fan – gave her a rousing send-off. It was a great reunion for her former students, her many friends and loving family.