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Getting to know Dollie Henry MBE before her Jazz Masterclass at JazzDayz Bamberg

We caught up with Dollie to learn more about her class and the journey that led her to this point.

What can the dancers expect from your class?

"My jazz masterclasses, offer an open inclusive space for all dancers to develop creatively and artistically, mentally, and physically, staying true to the spirit of Jazz and that of individual expression.

My masterclasses always commence with my BOP jazz company technical warm-up, to enhance flexibility, stamina, and strength, supported by jazz music to facilitate aural understanding, musicality, and timing. This leads to across the floor jazz technique combinations that explore the creative elements of the jazz dance aesthetics and delivery. Finishing with the learning of BOP Jazz repertoire, that places the emphasis on the execution of style, creative nuances and performance.

My aim is to offer masterclasses that are enriching, engaging and energising for all to be informed, involved and inspired and share the jazz pedagogy, context and creative expression of the Jazz Dance Theatre art form."

What got you into Dance?

"I started dancing at the age of 4 years old. I was trained in classical dance and always wanted to be a ballerina. However, as I was trained in all the various other dance forms Jazz found me and that was it, I was hooked. To be honest I have never ever wanted to do anything but dance, perform and make a career out of being on stage. So, for the last 56 years that’s exactly what I have been blessed and grateful to do. I have been lucky enough to work concert dance, musical theatre, film and TV and this has allowed me to have a vast and varied career as a performer which led to my career as a choreographer and theatre director.

In 1996 I founder my own Jazz Theatre Company – BOP Jazz Theatre Company aka BOP."

Who was or is your inspiration/Idol?

"My Inspiration was my Father. He was quite a formidable human being in his own right and in my life. He was a very supportive parent, who saw in me what I saw in myself. But always reminded me, that if I wanted to make it as a performer, I had to work extremely hard and be 3 times better than everyone else, because I was a woman and I was Black, so it would not be easy. I have never lost these words as my encouragement to make my way in the industry and survive it.

My idol I think is every black female creative artist/dancer from – Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks, Katherine Dunham to Cecily Tyson, from Judith Jamison to Viola Davies. In each of their capacities either activist, dancer or actress, they have all reminded me that it is possible to live your life and create your own space to be. I know I stand on the shoulders of many who have gone before me and who have paved the way."

If you could give your 18 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

"Do not listen to the Naysayers! There are people who will try to stop you, do not take NO as the answer. Question everything behind what someone is saying. There are messages in every walking moment of our lives. Be you, be honest and be strong. I think I did do that anyway at 18!!"

What does Dance or Jazz dance in particular mean to you?

"One thing I do know is that Dance is like Therapy. It has healed me and kept me sane on so many dimensions, mind, body and soul. I am not separate from the art that I do and as a Jazz creative it’s almost impossible to ignore the impact of an art form, that has given me life and love.

Dance for me is a chance to find a unique expression of oneself. When the world expects you to be a certain way and likes to put you in a box … Dance for me breaks down those barriers and borders and you can if you are willing just be yourself in your entirety."


Excitement is building for our next instalment of JazzDayz Bamberg 2024 with guest teachers including MDance Founder Melanie Day, Valentina Dolci & Pasha Darouiche

Secure your spot now! Don't miss this enriching opportunity at Body & Soul on October 12th & 13th, 2024. Register now!


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