Abbi Burns

Founder & Owner

Abbi has danced her entire life and formally trained in many disciplines. At the age of 14 Abbi began student teaching at her dance school and aged just 15 she choreographed her first production which was a community pantomime. She continued choreographing and teaching and worked with Derby Youth Theatre and St Nicholas Players. Her plan was to become a professional backing dancer.

Abbi also loved events and enjoyed planning and prepping them. She put on her first event when she was still at school which was a charity fundraiser, “An Evening With Terry Venables”. No-one really believed that the former England football manager would come to a school hall to answer questions by teenagers but he did!

At 17 Abbi was accepted into dance college in London and made the big move to pursue her dreams. That’s the funny thing about dreams though, they change. Abbi quit college and quit dancing and began to work for a promotional agency in London.

After a year to rest old injuries and broken expectations Abbi decided that she wasn’t done with dance after all and returned to Derby out of shape and out of ideas and went back to train at her old dance school. She soon took on some new teaching classes and continued to choreograph locally.

When the local high school needed a choreographer for their Christmas show Abbi took on the role and following the popularity of that show, Woodlands Dance was born.

Eventually, Abbi gave up her classes at the private dance school and her choreography to focus completely on Woodlands Dance. She wanted to give dancers the opportunity to perform anywhere and everywhere and worked hard to find the events, if she couldn’t find the events, then she simply planned them herself.

Abbi enjoyed her time at Woodlands and was proud to have built something special in extra curricular activities at the school. She also got as involved as she could in the school community and worked as an artist in residence teaching drama on timetable. During her time at Woodlands she also stayed active as a performer herself, was part of a Theatre Company and went on to co-produce a local production of Closer.

After over 7 years with Woodlands Dance Abbi applied for funding through the Princes Trust to set up an independent dance company and taught her final class at Woodlands Dance in 2008.

In December 2008 Darley Dance opened its doors and for the first time the classes and events weren’t just open to Woodlands School students.

Abbi has always loved working in events and Darley Dance gave her the opportunity to combine her passion for dance with her love of events. Soon the company came to a cross roads and the dance school side was left behind so that Abbi could focus solely on providing professional dancers for events.

Abbi has choreographed literally thousands of routines over the years, worked with hundreds of dancers and planned and organised many, many events!

Abbi is proud to have been awarded Marketing Derby’s Rising Star award in 2019 and is excited for the future of Darley Dance Productions.

Dance and events run in Abbi’s blood and her lifetime of training, learning and doing has given her a wealth of knowledge that only experience can provide. It’s that experience that Abbi now wants to share and she is always happy to talk to any aspiring performers in the hope that what she has learnt may help someone on their journey.



If you would like to hear more about Abbi’s business journey then you can listen to her being interviewed by Carrie Green from The Female Entrepreneur Association for her podcast series She Means Business. Click on the picture to hear more.