‘DWTS’ Finalist Remembers Late Dance Teacher Who ‘Changed the Course of My Life’

A stone angel guards a grave in Highgate Cemetery, north London.

Getty A stone angel guards a grave in Highgate Cemetery, north London.

Melanie Brown, aka “Mel B” from the Spice Girls and Dancing With the Stars season five runner-up, is grieving the loss of her beloved dance teacher Jean Pearce and offering up sweet words of remembrance for the woman who made such an impact on her life.

Mel B Says She Wouldn’t Have Become a Spice Girl Without Jean Pearce

Dancing with the stars / Mel B & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Jive2011-03-14T01:10:52Z

The Yorkshire Post out of the United Kingdom reports that Pearce died last Friday, November 6, at the age of 94 after contracting the coronavirus. Pearce taught dance in Leeds, England, for decades and one of her most famous students is Mel B, who spoke to the Evening Post about Pearce’s passing.

“Jean Pearce was an incredible woman, an amazing teacher and someone who changed the course of my life,” said Brown, adding, “I was so sorry to hear of her passing and my heart goes out to her family and in particular her son, Billy, who was also a big inspiration to so many young dancers and performers.”

Brown continued on with the thought that she would not have become a Spice Girl without Pearce’s influence.

“I’m not sure I would have ever become a Spice Girl if it wasn’t for Jean Pearce,” said Brown. “I was a hyperactive kid, constantly driving my mum mad with my boundless energy but when I was seven years old a neighbour offered to take me to a dance class with her daughter – The Jean Pearce School of Dance. Jean was strict, you had to give 100 percent focus to get the steps right and everything moved so fast. I was hooked. I kept up, got it right and she put me on the front row. At seven I realised this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. From then on everything was about dance. I loved the discipline, the drama, the beauty and it shaped everything I did from then on.”

Pearce Opened Her Dance School Shortly After World War II Ended

The 94-year-old woman started dancing herself at the age of eight and began teaching at the age of 18, according to the Post. Shortly after the end of World War II, she opened her eponymous school of dance and taught until around the year 2000 — though even after closing the school, Pearce was still giving lessons at local churches and community centers for several years after.

Jean’s son Billy told the Post, “Mum was a teacher through and through, she absolutely loved it and she absolutely brilliant at it. My abiding memory of mum is her teaching enormous classes of 50 or 60 kids on a Saturday morning and having them all eating out the palm of her hand. She was the best teacher I have ever seen. … Since my mum died I have been inundated with messages from people all over the world. It has been absolutely incredible and meant an awful lot, I just wish mum could be here to see it.”

Pearce developed dementia in recent years and began living in a care facility that had a number of COVID-19 cases in recent months. She is survived by her husband Peter, three children, and four grandchildren. She died on her 40th wedding anniversary.

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