LESLEY Ann Eden's York School of Dance and Drama is still going strong.

In fact Sunday evening's show at the Grand Opera House marks their 40th anniversary of serving the York community in the performing arts field.

"I can't believe that 40 years ago three little girls knocked on my door asking me to teach them and I never dreamt the school would grow and blossom into the wonderful establishment it is today," says Lesley, the school's principal.

"I'm so proud of the school's achievements and all the students who have gone on to have their own dance schools and be wonderful performers and even become Hollywood actors. I love the fact that we're family based and I'm now teaching children of children who first danced in the school and I'm looking forward to the next 40 years in the business."

Charles Hutchinson asks Lesley for quickstep answers to a baker's dozen quick questions in a busy week of preparations for Sunday's Blast From The Past, 40 Years On.

What do you recall of your first venture in teaching dance?

"That was in India, in West Bengal, to children in a school run by Irish nuns and I was so moved by the joy and the fun dance generated that I vowed to go back to help in some way. This I did, with my son, when we raised money for a school after the tsunami destruction."

What made you want to be a dance teacher and choreographer?

"I've always danced and made up dances before I was born."

Where have you run dance schools?

"I've taught dance all over the world and was the first of five people to obtain an M.A. in choreography producing my own style of dance – Junction Jazz – but my school has always been here in York."

York Press:

Lesley Ann Eden works on a dance routine at the York School of Dance and Drama. Picture: David Harrison

Where is your dance school based, what do you teach and to which age groups?

"We're based at Park Grove School and I teach children from three years old and adults up to 70. I teach many different styles and genres and after this weekend's show I'll be choreographing two new ballets to celebrate our 40th birthday."

What is your proudest achievement as a dance teacher?

"I have three: one was to dance with my students at Wembley Stadium, and secondly to be asked to teach a class there, which was as sell-out. Perhaps the greatest was to be awarded a Kidscape Champion for my work with children in dance over the years."

Can anyone learn to dance?

"I believe dance is within everyone."

So, when you dance, how does it make you feel?

"I live when I dance!"

Who are your favourite choreographers and dancers?

"Jerome Robbins is my favourite choreographer; Alam Khan is my favourite dancer."

York Press:

Lesley Ann Eden and her dance pupils celebrate her 40th anniversary as a teacher

What will your January 31 show feature?

"The York School of Dance and Drama has forged new pathways in choreography, introducing unusual and daring dances, and our 40th birthday show will delight and surprise everyone, featuring students on roller skates and glow-in-the-dark balloons.

"We have many children performing, not only from my own school, but also my daughter Gemma's school –York City Dance – and students from many schools across the city and Brayton High in Selby, plus adults from my classes.

"If you've been part of the school, please come along and celebrate 40 years on the boards with us."

What will be the theme of Blast From The Past?

"It's a celebration of the past 40 years of dance and drama and takes place in an airport where strange things happen almost in a dreamlike state, like in the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, where reality is questioned."

Will you be dancing on Sunday evening?

"Yes, though I need another hip replacement, the right hip this time, but I'll still do a rope routine when I play the part of a magician whose rope represents a flame, bringing the dancers together, and I'm also doing a little Bollywood piece right at the end from Rohit Chetty's film Chennai Express."

Dance teachers never retire – not that you should! – but why is that?

"I will never retire and my children say that I will still be dancing the Funky Chicken on my Zimmer frame."

After 40 years, what is your best piece of advice to a young dancer?

"My advice is to learn the technique, then throw it away and dance with your heart."

Lesley Ann Eden presents the York School of Dance and Drama in Blast From The Past, 40 Years On, at Grand Opera House, York, on Sunday at 6pm. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york