Maria De Francesca - Director of the McGowan School of Dance


What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

My 3 children, a long-lasting relationship, gaining my Degree in Dance and becoming a registered ballet teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance.

What motivates you to do what you do? 

I studied ballet, tap, modern dance as a child and contemporary dance as a teenager so dance has always been part of my life. As an older dancer and teacher I really appreciate good, safe well-taught technique and my training in London with the Royal Academy has been invaluable as a highly regarded global teaching qualification. I believe everyone has a dancer in them and I love the challenge of taking children and adults through an exam, performance or their first class in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. I particularly enjoying teaching adult ballet classes across west Cornwall and I’m a qualified Silver Swan (RAD Ballet for mature dancers). We have a good laugh, destress, and get to workout to fabulous music.

What do you owe your mother? 

A bottle of gin, Yorkshire grit, determination, ‘kill them with kindness’, and laughter.

Which women inspire you and why?

My mum for having four children, running pubs and restaurants, and for moving to Italy with my dad before he died. Rosa Parks for defying racism and injustice. Pina Bausch for dance & choreography. Arundhati Roy for literature. Rosalind Franklin for discovering DNA, and Ella Fitzgerald for her voice.

 What are you reading? 

 ‘The School Days of Jesus’ by J. M. Coetzee.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

All the usual ones, sadly. Having a sit-in at school to protest against girls not being allowed to wear trousers? 

How can the world be made a better place for women?

We need more women in positions of power and influence.

Describe your perfect day?

Coffee, a deserted beach or pool, a book, snacks, iced cocktails, and an Italian 5 course dinner with family and friends.

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Diana Mc Gowan for services to ballet in Cornwall.

Give us a tip?

Dancing improves brain function! 


About Maria: I was born in Southampton to Anglo/Italian parents. I Lived in Bristol for many years and had two children before travelling through Central America and the Caribbean. I moved to Cornwall in 1995 and had another child, and with my partner we renovated a barn near Madron. I became a yoga teacher and then studied for a Degree in Dance and became a ballet assistant to Penzance’s infamous ‘Miss’ Diana McGowan. I have taught GCSE, BTEC Dance for many years - in secondary schools in Penzance and St Ives, and I’m currently teaching Classical Ballet at Truro College. I inherited the McGowan School of Dance in 2016 and undertook my Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Ballet Teaching qualification. The school is thriving and I love teaching a range of students from baby ballet all the way up to older students - having just qualified as a Silver Swans RAD Teacher (gentler ballet for the mature dancer).