Dorothy Skelton, then secretary of Yorkshire College of Music where James had taken exams and was working at the time, informed James that NSCD was looking for a pianist. Although the job by then had been filled, Penny Rae, then co-ordinator at NSCD, invited James to play in the foyer on Saturdays before, during the interval and after the main theatre performance. After a few months, Penny invited James onto a year’s training scheme to play for dance classes. After that year James rang then principal Nadine Senior asking to borrow a video camera from the college. Nadine replied she was going to ring James that day anyway because she had put him in the timetable for September with six classes a week to start off with – “is that ok?” Gobsmacked, James accepted and has been an accompanist at NSCD since 1988 and with Northern Ballet since 2010.
He has worked with a number of different organisations and companies, including:
- Company class pianist for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures’ The Red Shoes (June-July 2017), Cinderella (May 2018) and Swan Lake (May 2019)
- Resident accompanist at Professional Dance Experience Leeds/Manchester (2014 – until their closure in 2018)
- Repetiteur and resident accompanist for Ben Love’s Ballet Soul at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for ‘Push 2004’
- Class pianist for ‘Ballet Black’ at Northern Ballet
- Accompanist at Joan Claire School of Dance and Momentum Dance
- Singing teacher’s resident accompanist at Yorkshire College of Music, Leeds
- Company class pianist for Phoenix Dance Company, Balbir Singh Dance Company and Northern Ballet
- Adult evening tap/ballet accompanist at Yorkshire Dance
- Accompanist at summer schools, exams, and courses for BBO Dance
- Audition classes for Company Chameleon, Mark Bruce Company and more
- Television: Resident pianist/singer for Sky TV’s The Boland Show composing ditties for and singing on the guests, show start, show end and commercial breaks. Guests included Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Dora Bryan, Liz Smith, Uri Geller, Linda Lusardi, Ned Sherrin and Annabelle Croft.