Meet the Family

We're extremely proud of our rich heritage.

Pictured: Florence Newbegin & Jack Rigby - British Old Time Champions

NDC was originally known as the Newbegin-Whiteside School of Dance, then the Newbegin Dance Centre and then in the 80's became Newcastle Dance Centre. 

It all began in 1931 with Florence Newbegin opened her own school in the attic of the family home.  She duly qualified in RAD, IDMA and ISTD and by World War Two was teaching ballroom in a church hall (in between taking on factory war work!)  She met and married her husband Jack Whiteside, who was a North of England Ballroom champion.  They went into the dancing business together and in 1941 Mavis was born.

Pictured: Mavis & Ken - British Old Time Champions.

After the war they rented two large second floor rooms in the St.Andrews Buildings in Newcastle's Gallowgate area.  Both Florence and Jack involved themselves with the Northern Counties Dance Teachers Association.  Florence formed its Ballet branch, was a fellow and examiner in all branches and was elected President nine times.  With Jack Rigby she won the British Professional Sequence Championship and was honoured with Carl Alan awards in 1957 and 1958.  Jack (her husband) was elected President of the NCDTA twice, he was elected to the IDMA Executive Council and was appointed an examiner.

Pictured: Michael and Mavis

The school prospered and in 1948 Jack and Florence bought new and spacious premises in Newbridge Street, then expanded further purchasing another studio on Westgate Road.  The schools were thriving and Mavis and her sister Leona were both teaching.  Mavis danced from a very young age and had taken examinations in Ballroom, Theatre Dance, Singing and Drama up to age 16.  Originally intending to follow a career in music she decided to change course and join the staff at her mother's school.  With the late Ken Park she won the British Professional Sequence Championship in 1962 and 63, and made history when she danced against her mum in the Final!  Like mum she was honoured with the Carl Alan Awards in 1962 and 63.

Mavis in due course met and married Michael Conway who was a keen dancer.  He had not yet been involved with teaching dance for he had a career as a marine engineer for P&O, building ships in Japan and travelled round the world.

At this time Jack Whiteside had retired and in 1970 Michael decided to return home to his family and take over the running of the schools.  He started with four pupils!  He expanded the business and in 1975 after receiving a compulsory purchase order in respect of the Newbridge Street studios and to find new premises quick!  He bought 28 derelict flats in Grainger Park Road and converted them into seven dance, singing and drama studios. 

By now the business had rationalized with Mavis and Florence running the Newbegin-Whiteside School of Dancing while Michael ran the Newbegin Dance Centre.  Michael by now was well established and was NCDTA President from 1985 to 90 and again 2003 and 2005.  Mavis was President 2000-2001.

During this time Michael and Mavis had a son and daughter, Neil and Hayley respectively.  Neil qualified in NCDTA and IDTA but does not teach now.  Hayley had a broad training in Ballroom, Theatre and Singing.  She was the youngest child ever to appear on the Theatre Royal Stage and went on to sing live on radio.  She is now a Fellow of the IDTA and a member of NCDTA, and is a British Dance Council Freestyle Representative.  In 1998 she made history and won a Carl Allan Award, the third generation of family to do so!  She is one of the three principals of Newcastle Dance Centre and is a professional choreographer, running  the ENCORE Dance entertainment side of the business.

In the late 80's the dance centre changed its name to the Newcastle Dance Centre and is now one of the largest dance centres in England!