My dance tuition began at Stapleton School of Dancing (SSD) under Miss Short, who founded the school in 1942. I continued my training at Bristol College of Dancing where I achieved my RAD Teacher Certificate with Distinction.
As well as training to become a teacher I also enjoyed a successful professional career. For two summer seasons I was based in the Isle of Wight, with Jimmy Tarbuck and Kenny Lynch under leading choreographer Phil Winston and as Head Girl with Les Dennis, choreographer Jan Lynton. For a third season I was on the Isle of Man as choreographer for stars Jimmy Cricket, Stan Boardman and Sonia. I also danced at Bristol Hippodrome with Max Bygraves.
In the late nineties I was also joint owner/choreographer to a dance troupe called ‘Split Level’ whose credits include numerous shows for ITV and the BBC and numerous one night performances with various artists.
I took over SSD in 1990 introducing Modern and Jazz back onto the already busy timetable. This development and growth included the major syllabus in RAD Ballet and ISTD Ballet, Modern and Tap.
Between 1990 and 2003 I continued my teacher training under Miss J Hockaday, gaining four Associates in Ballet, Modern, Tap and National. I built upon these foundations by attaining my Associate Diploma, Licentiate and Licentiate Diplomas in Ballet, Modern and Tap. I then went on to achieve my Fellowships in Modern and Tap.
During my time as principal the SSD pupils achieved the following successes;
An extremely high standard of examination results in RAD and ISTD Ballet, Modern, Tap, National and Jazz examinations in Grades and the Majors.
Janet Cram finalists since 2007 until 2014
All England finalists since 2005
Students who have gone onto full time colleges in Ballet and Musical Theatre
Royal Ballet School, Elmhurst School of Dance, Northern Ballet School
Bird, Masters, Performances, Arts Education, Stella Mann and Urdang.
Colleges closer to home such as JHS College, Bristol College and South West Academy.
The “Fonteyn and Nureyev Young Dancer Competition” at the Bloomsbury Theatre London. Awarded with Commendation by Desmond Kelly and David Nixon.
Enjoyed success in the local Arts Festivals, Longwell Green, Kingswood, Bristol, Weston super Mare, Cheltenham and Gloucester. Receiving medals and cups at every Festival which also included “Clean Swipes” at many. In different genres as solos duets and groups.
A “Black tie” Charity event to raise money for the “Pat Short Bursary” which grants can still be attained by the Stapleton Pupils. I founded the “Pat Short Bursary” in 2007 to honor Pat Short whose teaching, wisdom and friendship still influences me today. The Bursary was created to award students from the Stapleton School of Dancing and who would like to go onto full time dance and teacher training a gift of money to help towards the cost of their new uniform.
ITV idents: Of classical dancers “pirouetting” and little dancers seating on a bench waiting for class.
Choreographing dancers from the SSD for the “Bristol Millennium Orchestra” a 50 piece orchestra who perform annually in the South West area.
I introduced an annual Summer school which enabled the pupils to have a chance to learn new styles of dance over a four day period. With teachers who did not teach them a regular bases. Teddy Bear picnics and treasure hunts were the lunch time high light and prizes for pupil who showed good manners and behavior. This is where I introduced national medal award examinations for the senior students which later developed into major classes.
Introduced a “Choreography Competition” to encourage their own chorographical ideas and to build confidents using steps they have learnt and the ones they create themselves
I introduced Cup awards for the Stapleton pupils for other attributes that are shown during the year. Such as “Enthusiasm” “Kindness and Consideration” “Positive Attitude” A Teacher Awarded was for pupils who showed bravery due to circumstances out of their control.
I have Produced, Directed and Choreographed ballets such as The Still Life at the Penguin Café, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. As well as producing, directing and choreographing the Modern, Tap and Jazz section of the school shows. Coordinating the lighting and the sound as well as costume designing.
I have also coordinated tea parties for the elderly with afternoon entertainment three times a year. Summer displays for local schools and church fund raisers.
Jointly opened our permanent premises with “William Tuckett” and “Pat Short” joining us in our Grand opening. Both have studios named after them.
I pride myself on a warm, caring environment and understand the needs of the individual dancer. I strive to do the best by each pupil and aim to give them more than just a dance class but self confidents, self discipline and the love of dance.
I have now stepped down as principal of the Stapleton School of Dancing after 25 years. I have enjoyed every moment and the last 5 years will always be very special due to Miss Samantha Axford becoming my business partner. It has been a great pleasure and a privilege to teach a generation of children and to see them grow up and become parents themselves.
I wanted to get back to what I love most “teaching dance “and enjoying creating dances and not the enormous mountain of paper work which seemed in the end to dominate my life.
I now have the best of both worlds. Loving my teaching and spending more time with my family.