Rediscover your inner ballerina

Before founding the unique Ballet4Life dance organisation 14 years ago in Chiswick, founder Donna Schoenherr’s dance and choreography career had taken her on an international journey. First treading the boards as a child in her native city of New York with the Festival Ballet of New York, Donna went on to train, dance, choreograph and teach across the globe.

Donna’s formative training took place at the prestigious Botsford School in Rochester, New York, where she trained in classical ballet technique, pointe, ballet mime, folk dance, advanced ballroom dance and more.

She went on to dance with the Cleveland Ballet and many other companies and was a Director of Rehearsals at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Michael Mao Dance Co where she was proud to be an integral part of two dance works that were made in collaboration with sight impaired dance artists; groundbreaking works which toured the country.

She continued to tour as a dancer, teacher and choreographer throughout the U.S. and Mexico, as well as across Europe before settling in her chosen home of West London where she has lived for the past twenty years. Alongside her dance career Donna finds creative release as an avid and established painter and photographer. Her works hang in private collections across the world.

Living with her husband and child in Chiswick, Donna’s love of dance and of her chosen local community prompted her to found Ballet4Life in 2004, as one of the first organisations to provide adult learners in London with comprehensive programmes of high-quality ballet and dance classes/courses.

The B4L class line up includes pointe, masterclasses, contemporary dance, beginner courses, barre and 50+ ballet classes; which have proven especially popular, making many a childhood ballet dream come true for Chiswick locals! Refusing to rest on her laurels, Donna, along and other volunteers launched umbrella charity initiative Move into Wellbeing in 2015 as a dance programme for people living with Parkinson’s and other mobility restrictions.

Move into Wellbeing was inspired by Donna’s father who lived with Parkinson’s for thirty years and who she saw benefit hugely from music and movement based therapy. Move into Wellbeing was pleased to receive funding from One You Hounslow last year and thrilled to receive full registered charity status earlier this year.

Ballet4Life prides itself on being an independently run and trusted part of the West London community and is the only place to offer adults Beginner Ballet Courses, Pointe classes, Contemporary dance and 50+ dance classes in the local area. Ballet4Life also offers concession rates for unwaged, students, pensioners, and theatre arts professional. Check out their Freedom Dancers Passes here.

Ballet4Life is proud to have a host of expert, professional and welcoming dance-teachers lead its classes. As Founder Donna notes Ballet4Life’s ‘first class was held at the Rambert Dance School and now Mark Kelly from the Rambert has joined the Ballet4Life team to complete the circle and teaches our lovely clients ballet and contemporary dance in Chiswick’.
Follow Donna’s art Instagram here: @donna_schoenherr

EFG London Jazz Festival

The legendary Bull’s Head, sometimes called the ‘suburban Ronnie Scott’s’ by the river in Barnes is fast approaching its 58th anniversary. Named as one of the 12 venues which had made the most important contribution to live jazz in the UK, the renovated Jazz Room has a unique ambiance where the stage and the audience share a special intimacy. Among some of the world’s famous names to have played at the Bull are Coleman Hawkins, Alan Price, Tubby Hayes, Blossom Dearie, Jamie Cullum, Stan Tracey, Jimmy Witherspoon, Mick Jagger, Shakatak, Claire Martin, Jim Mullen, Alan Barnes, James Torme, Maggie Bell, Peter King, Art Themen, Mari Wilson, Sarah Jane Morris, Barb Jungr and Antonio Forcione to name just a few.

Still putting on live music 7 days a week, the Bull’s Head’s rich musical heritage continues to flourish at one of Barnes’s finest gastro pubs and as such is heavily involved in this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival with nine shows running through the festival dates between Friday 10 to Sunday 19 November. From the funky Groove Warriors to the close harmony jazz of the fabulous Haywood Sisters via the much-feted saxophonist Art Themen and his New Directions Quintet to the World Jazz & Latin of Chico Chica and Gill Manly’s critically acclaimed Nina Simone show “I Put A Spell On You” there is indeed something for all over the festival dates at this iconic venue.

For details of shows at the Bull’s Head in the EFG London Jazz Festival and to book tickets go here. For the ticket offer outlined in the 31/10/2017 newsletter quote Jazz Hands.

Tenor saxophone photograph by Wakalani.

Formal consultation ends on Cycle Superhighway

The last day of the formal consultation period for comments on CS9 is Tuesday 31 October 2017. This despite the fact that local councillors in Chiswick and Hammersmith have asked for an extension, as have Chiswick High Rd traders at a meeting with Ruth Cadbury MP last Thursday. This despite the fact also that TfL don’t yet have the results of the Environmental Impact survey they commissioned, so they aren’t able to tell us what the environmental impact of their proposals might be. I have been trying to find out when TfL expect to get the result of the Environmental Impact survey because it seems to me that is vital information that we need in order to make up our minds as to whether CS9 will deliver the positive outcomes TfL hope it will. No joy as yet.

Traders’ consultation ‘deeply unsatisfactory’

Around 30 traders met Ruth Cadbury MP at Outsider Tart last Thursday to discuss their concerns. Despite assurances from TfL that traders would be consulted, a quick show of hands revealed that some had not yet had any direct consultation from TfL about how their businesses might be affected and it quickly emerged in discussion that those who had found the process deeply unsatisfactory.

There are around 800 businesses directly affected by the proposal to route a two way cycle lane along the south side of the High Rd. TfL has commissioned a third party, a survey company, to go round to businesses and talk to them. But instead of making appointments so that the business owner is present, they have just called in unannounced and spoken to whoever is in the shop, leaving junior staff to field their questions. Instead of having a two-way conversation with someone from TfL who knows the details of the proposal and might be able to answer questions and address their concerns, traders have just been asked to provide answers to a set list of questions for a survey, leaving them none the wiser as to how their business would be affected.

The traders present asked Ruth Cadbury to see if she could get an extension of the consultation period as people are only just finding out about CS9 and don’t yet understand enough about the details, which many people have said are unclear on their plans, to make a sensible assessment of what the proposals might mean for them.

Where are the hearses supposed to park?

Among those represented at the traders meeting was W.S. Bond the funeral directors on the High Rd, who wanted to know where their hearses were supposed to park to load an unload coffins. Under the TfL proposal their shot front would be beside the cycle route, with a double yellow line preventing parking in the road. They have no access at the back of their premises.

Others wanted to know how the two nurseries on British Grove were supposed to survive. They currently have around 75 children being dropped off and picked up by car. In order for that to continue under the new proposals, as far as residents can tell from the plans, parents would have to drive in through St Peter’s Square, negotiate the very tight bend into the narrow Berestede Rd at peak rush hour times when residents are also trying to get out to work.

Businesses in Devonshire Rd were concerned that the priority given to cyclists on Chiswick High Rd at the junction with Devonshire Rd would make it much harder for people to drive in to Devonshire Rd, with a resulting negative impact on trade.

Dog Town, who have just opened up on the High Rd, were concerned that the introduction of a double yellow line would kill their business. They provide physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to injured animals which by definition cannot walk to the premises and many of which are too heavy to be carried. Another businessman who relied on people coming in to Chiswick from outside the area for 80% his business also says that if they can’t park his customers won’t come any more.

Ruth Cadbury offered to lead a fact finding trip to another area of London where a Cycle Superhighway has already been introduced in a residential area, to see what the impact on businesses had been, but traders were luke warm in their enthusiasm for this idea, many of them having a very clear idea of how they thought their trade would be affected.

Comments will still be considered

Joy Wigg, Senior Sponsor at TfL told me that even though they were sticking with the 31 October deadline for the online consultation, they would still welcome comments after that date by email. She said they’d already received a lot of feedback and that the next step would be for TfL to take a report to Hounslow council, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea and to the relevant TfL board. She also said that she would be happy to meet traders with members of her team to answer specific questions and get feedback to the plans and that it wouldn’t matter that this was after the online consultation cut off point as the conversation would still continue for a while yet.

Give your views online by Tuesday 31 October here:
After 31 October (but don’t leave it too long!) email:

Strand on the Green gets another blue plaque

The actor Donald Pleasance has joined artist Johann Zoffany among the riverside dwellers of Strand on the Green to be honoured by a blue plaque. Donald Pleasance starred in TV series in the 1950s such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Danger Man and graduated to film roles such as Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler in The Eagle Has Landed.

He lived in the cottages beside the Bull’s Head from the late ’60s until 1985. His best known role was perhaps that of Flight Lieutenant Colin Blythe, the prisoner whose job it was to forge the escapees’ German papers and is determined to escape himself despite the fact that he’s nearly blind. In real life he did actually serve in Bomber Command and was shot down and taken prisoner, but not at Stalag Luft III.

I’m dead chuffed to find out that Donald Pleasance used to live round the corner from me. John Thaw and Sheila Hancock used to live at the end of the road but they moved out the day we moved in. I never found out who told them.

Grasping at straws

I mentioned last week that Paul Hyman, founder of Active 360, the Paddleboarding company at Kew Bridge, has written to Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council, to ask him to use his influence with Hounslow Highways to empty the bins by the river more regularly, because when the bins are full people dump their rubbish beside them and he says, a lot of it ends up in the water.

He also wrote to Fullers to ask them if they would stop using plastic straws in riverside pubs and maybe consider a deposit on returned plastic glasses. Their head of Corporate Affairs Georgina Wald replied, saying they use glass rather than plastic where they can. “You’ll be pleased to know that we are already looking at the plastic straw issue. A member of my team shares your concerns in this matter and has been pushing for a change internally. I know a great deal of work has been undertaken by our purchasing team to source an alternative and I do hope that you will soon see a change”.

Paul suggests that Councillor Amritpal Mann, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council and Cabinet Member for Environment might like to hear from anyone who has evidence of rubbish left lying by already overflowing riverside bins. Here’s his email address: