Katy Barrow (A.IDTA)
Principal & Founder of SOSA Dance Fitness & Seated SOSA Dance Fitness
Co-Founder/Director of SOSA & Starlets Community Interest Company
‘A highly accomplished professional dancer, choreographer and dance teacher, Katy has a life-long passion for dance, that just like her incredible energy, knows no bounds! Her dream is to inspire people all over the world, regardless of their age or level of ability, to experience the pure joy and happiness that dance brings’
I thought about writing a really ‘professional’ biography…just talking about myself, and personally taking all the credit for my achievements, as Founder of SOSA Dance Fitness and Seated SOSA Dance Fitness.
Instead, I decided it was so much more meaningful to dedicate this page to sharing some truly personal experiences from my life with you all, and HONOURING the incredible people, who have ultimately been responsible for giving me the inner strength, creativity, passion, inspiration, determination and self-belief, to create SOSA.
Without the influence of these special people, I would still be working in the city of London as a PA from 8am-5pm…sitting at my desk every day staring out of the window… just hoping and praying for the opportunity to change people’s lives every day with the joy of dance, and create a dance programme that was truly INCLUSIVE FOR ALL.
Sue Wilson (Founder of Starlets, Co-Founder/Director of SOSA & Starlets Community Interest Company, SOSA & Seated SOSA Regional Pro Trainer for Essex & Greater London)
I was just 6 years old when my Mum enrolled me into my first Ballroom & Latin dance school. I have a vivid memory of looking up at Sue, who was training to be a dance teacher at the time. I was far too small to dance in Ballroom/Latin close hold with her, so we just held hands, or elbows, as she taught me the Cha-Cha-Cha.
My Mum said I used to come home from class and dance around the house, singing “2, 3, Cha-Cha-Cha!”
Sue taught me the basic underlying technique of every Ballroom, Latin and Disco dance step I know today.
After 9 years, and many amateur dance exams/competitions in Ballroom, Latin and Disco Dancing, I left the dance school, age 15, when teenage life and GCSE exams took over. Unfortunately, Sue and I lost touch after that.
Sue inspired me to fall in love with dance… and realise from a very young age, that dance was my DESTINY.
Fast-forward to 26 years later, after moving back to my home town in Essex in 2018, I attended a ‘social night’ at my local Salsa club. As I sat at the side-lines putting on my dance shoes, I just couldn’t take my eyes off this woman on the dancefloor… she was SO FABULOUS, I found myself transfixed, in total awe of her. I knew that I recognised her face, but I had no idea where from.
She walked over to me ten minutes later, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Is your name Katy?”
I looked into her eyes, and in that moment, I knew immediately that it was HER!! I threw my arms around her, I was SO EXCITED. I didn’t sleep a wink that night!
I truly believe that fate bought Sue and I together again, for a very important and special reason.
We are now best friends, and business partners. The company that Sue founded over 20 years ago, Starlets, is just a baby/family version of SOSA, with exactly the same ethos, fun and vision, of inclusive dance for all abilities.
It was ALWAYS MEANT TO BE that SOSA & Starlets would align!!
We recently Co-Founded SOSA & Starlets Community Interest Company in June 2020, and Sue is now ‘Regional SOSA and Seated SOSA Pro Trainer for Essex and Greater London.’
Dennis Drew (Famous professional Ballroom & Latin competition dancer, Former President of International Dance Teachers Association)
Shortly after my GCSE exams, my parents and I moved home to a new area, and I found my new local Ballroom & Latin school immediately. I’d not danced for 12-months by this point and I had missed it so much…
This is when I met Dennis Drew, who is simply a LEGEND.
My memory of him the first time I danced with him, will remain with me forever. He danced with such ease, he literally glided over the dancefloor!! I’d never seen or experienced anything like it.
Dancing in closed Ballroom/Latin hold with this incredible man, who had so much strength, energy, power and control in his lead…combined with natural effortlessness, care, and elegance in every step…was mind-blowing!
I had so much respect and admiration for him.
Dennis pushed and encouraged me to become a dance teacher as soon as I turned age 18, so I began training for my IDTA Ballroom/Latin Teaching Associate qualifications . He would work me to the limits every lesson, learning the technique of every dance step to the finest detail, making me repeat it 100 times, over and over again…until I could dance it with my eyes closed, and repeat the technique word for word.
Sometimes, I would sit down for a few minutes rest, especially when learning the fast Quickstep and Jive technique. He’d just look at me, laugh, and say “there’s no time to rest Katy, come on get up!”
I was 18 years old at the time, and he was in his mid-60’s. His energy levels were off the scale, I literally couldn’t keep up with him…
I know he would be so proud of SOSA if he were here today, because he had such a special gift to make everyone smile and feel instantly relaxed and welcome in his company the moment they walked onto his dancefloor. I would sit at the side-lines and watch his every move, studying and analysing his teaching techniques.
Dennis made me realise that DANCE IS FOR EVERYONE. People just need to be given the opportunity, encouragement… and most importantly, a happy, welcoming and non-judgemental environment in which to learn.
His passion for dance was so infectious, and INSPIRATIONAL beyond words.
R.I.P Dennis Drew.
Lynda King (IDTA Dance Teacher/Founder since 1964, Former President of International Dance Teachers Association)
Ten years after qualifying as a Ballroom and Latin teacher, I had secured a great career, working full time in the city of London as a PA at an international investment bank. But also, four nights a week, I would get home from work, quickly get changed and then teach private dance lessons and group dance classes in the evenings, at various dance schools in the Essex and Greater London area.
In the meantime, I had discovered a huge personal passion for Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba, so I really wanted to gain further dance teaching qualifications in Salsa and Freestyle.
Lynda was a close friend and associate of Dennis Drew, so I knew immediately that she was the one to teach and inspire me.
I was 30 years old, and with over 10 years of teaching experience under my belt by this point, I thought I was an expert!
Until I met Lynda, I had always been told what to teach by the owner of the dance school I was working at, according to the grade I was teaching, and in line with the ‘set’ dance steps and routines dictated in the IDTA syllabus.
Lynda’s teaching style was so unique, she taught me to analyse and question every element of every step and styling movement, and make me think about how every step could be adapted for different ages, levels and abilities.
She would set me ‘homework’ every week, to study the IDTA manual… and then pick it apart. I’d turn up to every lesson with twenty questions in my mind.
But she never answered any of my questions. Instead, she would throw them back at me, and put me on the spot.
She would say “You tell me why the body moves in that way?” and “Why the foot is placed in that direction?”
I realised very quickly, that I already knew the answers to all of my questions. The only thing I didn’t have…. was the confidence in myself to think ‘outside the box.’
She freed my mind, and elevated my skillset from being a dance teacher… to being a CHOREOGRAPHER.
She taught me that ANYTHING is possible, if you BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, and your own abilities.
She was such an INCREDIBLE inspiration in my life, and the most fabulous teacher I’ve ever had.
18 months later, in November 2012…. SOSA was born!!
Don Barrow (Amazing friend, life-saver…patience of a saint!)
Don is my guardian angel, and will be a lifelong friend until the day we die. This man always has, and always will, BELIEVE IN ME so much. To this day, Don is the biggest supporter and champion of SOSA.
He pushed me to achieve my dreams and goals every step of the way. At times, I felt like giving up. Believe me, building a dance fitness brand from the ground-up, is no mean feat!!
Without his 100% encouragement, inspiration, support and guidance… along with a lot of IT/technology support along the way (admittedly, technology is definitely NOT my forte!)
SOSA would never have been created in the first place, and definitely would not still be here, going from strength to strength every day, without Don’s input.
Sometimes, all we need in life, is just one person who we love and trust, to give us the courage and strength to take that plunge, and a massive risk, in order to fulfil our destiny.
To have someone who truly, genuinely, believes in your ability, vision and dreams, no matter what…is absolutely PRICELESS.