Celebrating Life to the Full – Donna Hargreaves from Channel 4 Big Ballet



Donna HargreavesHello! I am thrilled to introduce Donna to the HH50 community – a friend I met on Twitter. I love her enthusiasm for life and am so excited to share her joyful story with you. Here’s Donna….

“Hello my lovelies, my name is Donna Hargreaves

I am 51 years young and celebrate my life to the full everyday.”

Which sport do you enjoy?

My chosen sport is Dance. I am currently a company ballerina with Daniel Jones Ballet UK.

For more information please see: #DanielJonesDANCE https://www.facebook.com/bigballetuk/

I am also a Tap Dancer.

Have you always been sporty?

I started dancing at the age of 4, taking part in all genres of dance, ballet, tap, modern and stage.

I can honestly say my love affair with this beautiful sport, started at this very young age, so my relationship with dance, with varying degrees of involvement has continued throughout my life.

At the age of 18, I made the choice to follow a career in Nursing. At only 4ft 11 inches, I was and still am considered too small for the professional dance world.

But in all my 47-year involvement with dance, there has never been a point when I fully gave up dance. I always participated in danced based keep fit classes in my younger years.

Then my daughter began her journey into dance, which brought her great success, and great joy to both of us.

It also brought a whole new world of dance opportunities for me. My Tap Classes started, along with the nerve wracking tap exams!!!

Then came the opportunity to audition for and take part in the Channel 4 programme Big Ballet, which I successfully joined and has subsequently been shown all over the world.

imageHow often do you dance?

My training regime, consists of daily walks of up to 5 miles.

My Tap classes are once a week on a Thursday. My duet partner and friend of 17 years (only 2 of us do the advanced class), are currently preparing for the International Dance Teaching Association, Grade 4 syllabus.

My company ballet classes at Daniel Jones Ballet UK, are also once a week, on a Friday, we do an hours Open Class consisting of technique training, followed by a 2 hour performance Class. For more information please look at http://zestdance.co.uk

If the company is preparing for a performance, then extra rehearsals are factored into the weeks training.

How do you feel when you are dancing?

When I hear the music begin, and my choreography starts, I am on a magical journey, of story telling. It really is pure joy.

How has dance enhanced your life?

Dance brings so many benefits to my life, friends, fitness and fun.

In both classes, my teachers teach me in the same way they would a much younger dancer.

Daniel Jones Ballet U.K., is a company made up of a diverse group of dancers, aged 5 to 51 years of age. I am not given an easier ride because of my age.

Physically it is a challenge, but it’s one I rise to, and I do exercises everyday to improve my stamina and strength.

The best thing about my ballet company, they are my best friends. A group of ladies/girls who meet, with a passion to dance, and a common goal to show, that dance classes and the chance to perform are inclusive to all.

imageWhat are your biggest motivations?

My motivation is simple. I strive to be the best dancer I can be, whilst enjoying the journey.

What were/are your biggest obstacles to taking part?

I believe as women, we are at fault of placing obstacles in our way, not giving ourselves time when really it should be a priority.

I spent 5 months filming Big Ballet for Channel 4. It was intense and demanding in so many ways. But it was also the most amazingly exhilarating opportunity of my life.

When Daniel Jones (former soloist with the English National Ballet) became our Artistic Director and Choreographer, the journey continued.

Daniel reminds us all the time that we ‘ are ballerinas’ with that comes a responsibility to train and perform to the best of your ability.

So my dance classes and extra rehearsals are a necessity, which I am fortunate to love.

Who inspires you?

My family inspires me everyday. I have been married 26 years to my best friend. My children have been the hardest but best thing I have ever done. I aim to stay fit and well for them.

Life enters new chapters all the time and I intend to relish every moment and reach the finale.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Performing is truly a mixture of emotions from sheer panic to pure exhilarating joy.

For a 51 year dancer, in this elite industry, I am very proud of my CV, as follows:

  • Swan Lake performed at St Georges Hall, Bradford, Big Ballet Channel 4
  • Daniel Jones Nutcracker performed at the Royal Ballet School.
  • Daniel Jones BalletHere performed at the British Plus Size Awards, London
  • Daniel Jones BalletHere performed at the Northern Ballet, Leeds
  • Daniel Jones Nutcracker performed at Move It Dance Show, London
  • Daniel Jones Capulets performed at Phoenix Theatre, Castleford and Mitchell Arts Centre Newcastle a Under Lyme
  • Daniel Jones Capulets performed at Move Dance Show, London. For information, please see http://www.moveitdance.co.uk

Donna HargreavesWhat are your next performances?

I am currently in rehearsal once again, for our performance at the Phoenix Theatre, Castleford in July.

What are the 3 best things about your sport?

the 3 best things about my sport,

  1. I get to dance
  2. With my best friends and Daniel Jones
  3. And live the dream

Do you track your fitness?

My husband recently bought me a Fitbit, which is a great motivator.

What’s your favourite piece of kit?

My favourite pieces of kit are my ballet shoes AND COSTUMES. I have a dual role with the company, as I am also Wardrobe Mistress.

What’s your favourite food for training?

My diet tends to be a healthy whole-food, balanced diet, avoiding processed foodstuff. I also drink lots of water.

If someone was thinking about taking up a sport but was doubted herself or felt unsure about being judged, what would you say to them?

My advice to anyone is:

  • This is your life, don’t listen to doubters or naysayers.
  • Grab an opportunity with open arms.
  • Life is too short to have any regrets.

Do you have a sporting or life motto?

My motto:

No one gives me boundaries, I try to be limitless, and I intend to fly with this wonderful sport and life.

DonnaHargreaves1

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Donna – it is wonderfully inspiring and your joy for dance shines through! We wish you every success with your performances and look forward to keeping in touch with you!

If you would like to follow Donna on Twitter here she is: @BigBalletDonna – she’s lovely & inspiring. I recommend it!

Jo xx

All photos courtesy of Donna Hargreaves.

Would you like to share your story? We’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch! Healthyhappyfifty@yahoo.com or @healthyhappy50 on Twitter & Instsgram

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