Our History

Dancing since 1971

“My connection with what was to become Mareli started when I was thirteen and a pupil at Brierley Hill Grammar School. One of my dance teachers at Latour School of Dance asked me to help out at a dance school she had started in Blackheath. Soon after, she had her first baby, returned to the school for a short time, but then left to live in Samoa with her husband and baby.

At the time I was studying for my associate teaching examination at Latour’s. They had advised me to go down the teaching route on account of my height. Being just under five foot tall they felt performance opportunities would be few and far between. With their help and guidance, I took over the running of the school.

I initially renamed the school ‘The Birmingham Road School of Dance’ as it was located at Birmingham Road Methodist Church. Every Wednesday afternoon I would leave school and catch two buses to get to Blackheath. I would teach for four hours and then go home to do my homework.The dancing school had definitely captured my imagination and I often drifted off during school hours! I can remember making up a football dance in my head to ‘Match Of The Day’ during maths  – I didn’t have a clue as to what the lesson was about and luckily a kind friend lent me her notes! 

After becoming a qualified dance teacher, I changed the name of the school to ‘Mareli School of Dance’. Martin and I married in 1975. Our son Kevin was born in May 1977 and our daughter Joanne was born in October in 1980. Mareli continued to flourish and relocated to Saturdays at St Giles Church Hall, Rowley Regis. Over a period of time, I retrained and became a member of the I.D.T.A taking teaching examinations to membership level in ballet, tap and modern jazz.

Mareli now houses a team of seven dance teachers who ‘grew up’ in Mareli, all working within their dance speciality, giving their talent and very best efforts to serve our Mareli Community. Mareli has evolved into something really special. Mareli is for everyone, for pupils who want to dance for fun and for pupils who wish to pursue a professional career. I’m proud of our past and present pupils who continue their training to pursue a professional career. So many pupils have gone on to do so many wonderful things; becoming teachers, doctors and vets. The most important achievement anyone can make is to be a good person. What makes me proudest of all is to see all of the friendships made in Mareli continue to flourish. When I look back, I can’t believe how far Mareli has come…”

Judy Cresswell (founding and current principle)

“I literally grew up in Mareli!.. But, when I was a child, I never knew where the name came from…. I love the story behind the name… My Mom (Judy) met my Dad (Martin) when she was 13 and they’re still together after all these years… She must’ve known he ‘was the one’ as she took his name and blended it with her middle name ‘Elizabeth’ to make the name Mareli!”

Joanne Cresswell (dance teacher at Mareli)