our history

The History Of Mareli

As told by Judy Cresswell; founder and principal of Mareli…

“My connection with what became Mareli School of Dance 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 having her first baby, she returned to the school for a short time, before leaving 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 School of Dance,’ as it was located at Birmingham Road Methodist Church. Each Wednesday afternoon, I would leave school and catch two buses to get to Blackheath. I would teach for four hours, 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, but luckily a kind friend lent me her notes.

One of Judy’s Grandchildren carrying on the tradition of operating the stage curtains, just like his great grandad did!


A True Mareli classic! Judy and Mel and their 1986 comedy duet

One of Judy’s costumes sketches for the 1986 show  – long before internet shopping took over!

Back at the old Blackheath Primary School on Ross

Our Mel, with some of our teaching assistants at that time, who were affectionately known as ‘Martin’s Angels!

Mareli School of Dance is Born

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 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 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 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 people 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 in Mareli continue to flourish. When I look back, I can’t believe how far Mareli has come.”


Judy Cresswell

founder and principal of Mareli.

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