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In Motion and Somerset dance schools merge

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After a half a century in operation, the Somerset School of Dancing has merged with In Motion School of Dance.

In Motion owner Lizz Pimentel said the April 1 merger happened very quickly.

“I have always had the highest regard for the Somerset School of Dancing,” Ms Pimentel said. “The family of the founder, Sal Hodgson, felt it was the right time to pass on the torch. It had been playing on their minds prior to this. I was very honoured they would reach out to me and put that into my hands. It felt like a no-brainer.”

Ms Hodgson's daughter Andrea Lopes and her brothers Tony and Simon Hodgson, took over the running of SSOD 3½ years ago when Ms Hodgson developed dementia. In January, Simon died suddenly.

“We have had a lot of tragedy this year,” said SSOD director Ms Lopes.

She and her brothers had been planning to sell for some time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic pulled the trigger a little sooner than expected,” Ms Lopes said. “We just didn't want to put any more stress on the family.”

Ms Hodgson started the school out of her living room in Somerset in 1970 with friend and neighbour Anne Cherry. After a few years the school moved to a studio in Mangrove Bay, Somerset. In the 1980s the school moved to Hamilton and is today located at the Berkeley Cultural Centre in Pembroke with more than 200 students.

The school started their association with the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance in England, two internationally recognised dance bodies, 38 years ago.

Ms Pimentel said the SSOD would continue along the RAD examination track.

“It is a different style of teaching,” she said.

Ms Lopes said the continuance of the RAD focus was very important to her and her family.

“My big thing was to make sure it continued so we could give students on the island the chance to follow a strategic, internationally recognised curriculum,” she said. “We filled a niche here on the island. We were the only school that did ballet exams and followed an international curriculum. That in itself is quite important.”

Ms Pimentel said each school had its strengths to bring to the table. The merger will allow students at In Motion to take examinations with the RAD, if they so desire.

In turn, SSOD students will be able to take advantage of In Motion performance opportunities such as the annual The Nutcracker Spectacular and the Marketplace Christmas Parade.

“The two schools will compliment each other exceptionally,” Ms Pimentel said. “This now means that each local dancer can put together their own dance portfolio.”

Ms Pimentel is embracing the differences between the two schools.

“I don't so much want to change what is in place, but provide opportunities for the local dance community,” she said. “It was one of those things that felt right, and felt important for the history of dance on the island. I have a lot of respect for what the SSOD has done for local dance.”

For now both schools will continue to operate as normal.

“The SSOD has a rich history and we have to be sensitive to that,” Ms Pimentel said. “It will be baby steps. Ultimately, I want to offer the best product for local dancers.”

She is working closely with Ms Lopes to make the changeover happen as smoothly as possible.

During the pandemic, both schools are teaching classes remotely.

For more information contact In Motion School of Dance at 292-7615, or, or the SSOD at 292-0446, or

Royal Academy of Dance affiliation: former Somerset School of Dancing owner Sal Hodgson with dance students. The school merged with In Motion School of Dance on April 1 (File photograph)
Happy memory: dance teacher Sal Hodgson with Somerset School of Dancing students in the early 1980s (Photograph supplied)
The Somerset School of Dancing's first students in the early 1970s (Photograph supplied)

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Published April 23, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 23, 2020 at 8:22 am)

In Motion and Somerset dance schools merge

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