Bird College – London
Diploma in Professional Dance & Theatre Performance (Distinction) Bird
ISTD Associate (Distinction) Bird College
ISTD Licentiate (Level 5) London ISTD HQ
Dance Captain Royal Caribbean Cruises
Feature Artist for ‘The Make a Wish Foundation’
Backing vocalist for ‘The RW Mighty Soul Band’ created from the ITV ‘Pop
Professional Choreographic Work
Tap feature for variety show held at the Royal Opera House – Covent Garden
Opener for Disney Cruise Lines Crew Show
‘A Cheeky Night Out’ featuring The Cheeky Girls – Weymouth Pavilion
‘A Night at The Musicals’ – The Portland Spa
Choreography and motion capture direction for the animation used on ‘The Miss Hits’ tennis animation project
headed by Judy Murray
Tap tutor for Bird College London working with Degree and Diploma Performing Arts students
Guest lecturer for Star Tap Awards
Guest teacher for Bird Summer Experience
Coaching for the ISTD standardisation for the new Grade 5 tap syllabus studied and examined world wide
Early Teaching Positions
Dorchester Ballet and Dance Club
Weymouth Dance Studio
Sunninghill Preparatory School
Dorchester Preparatory School
Weymouth Operatic Workshop – WOW
The students interview Miss Emilie
At the age of just 16 I left home to start my professional training on a full scholarship to Bird College in London. Just like many of my own students, my parents introduced me to dance once I was walking, since then; I’ve never really stopped.
What made you decide to go into theatre?
I’d always done well with singing and dancing, achieving strong marks in my exams and taking various roles and solos whenever a performance came about, but when I was 12, my mum signed me up for a summer school at the renowned Laine Theatre Arts College. After a successful week, I was awarded the scholarship to return again the following year. The next year, I was presented again with another award. I tried another reputable college course and, likewise, at the Bird Easter experience, I won a place to attend their summer program. Meanwhile I’d also entered a competition called ‘The Young Dancer of The Year’, it was organised and judged by Brian Rogers who founded Performers College. I’d never been a dance festival star as such but this competition was a bit different, so, to cut straight to the finale, I won The Young a Dancer of the Year in 1997. I began to realise that venturing into theatre could very well be more than just a dream for me so, I planted a firm goal in my head, made a plan and threw everything I had at it.
What’s your audition story?
I only auditioned at what was then the two leading colleges: Laine Theatre Arts and Bird College, I was offered full scholarships to both but, I chose Birds……I know my family, friends and teachers fully expected me to go to Laines, still to this day I don’t know why or how I made my choice, just a feeling I guess.
Tell us about your training.
In my era, professional training was quite different than it is now, there were really only two top colleges and my year took just 15 girls from across the globe. Now the list of colleges and accepted students is immense in comparison, making employment post college about as tough as it gets and it was tough 20 years ago! Full time training is exhausting and yet liberating, there were days I could have quite easily given up such a demanding schedule, but many more that have honestly shaped who and what I am both as a performer and a person. I’ve never been afraid of hard work since the experience of a Performing Arts College. I’d call home often to tell my parents all about college life and I remember my Dad: a military mans son, saying it sounds like your training for the army. Well, I don’t know how good I’d be in combat, but certainly the strength and fitness I achieved not to mention self will and handling pressure brings it close.
What were the highlights of your professional training?
During my training I was one of the few members of the Bird Theatre Company, a handful of us toured Europe which was excellent fun and brilliant experience. I was also among the four dancers used to introduce the Gold Tap Syllabus to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, the demonstration DVD is actually my feet, and yes…… they kept in the wobble at the end of the Funk Amalgamation!? I was thrilled to graduate with a Distinction in Professional Dance and Theatre Performance, and a Distinction again in my Teachers Associate.
What did you do after college?
Ah, realization of the real world! The week after graduation is daunting, there’s nobody telling you to get yourself to an 8am ballet class, it’s quite literally up to you. I had to be strict with myself to keep up my tone and fitness and technique, it’s amazing how fast that all slips when you’re out of that of training. I must have seen most of London from the rounds of auditioning, it’s a long story, years for some of my friends, but to take you to the end result, I found myself at a cross roads, or actually a t-junction I suppose……I was getting recall after recall for the original west end cast of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ staring Amanda Holden. I’d been offered the part of ‘Swallow’ in the ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ tour, and was waiting to here from three different cruise companies. Cruise work always had a bit of a stigma among the industry, I think the entertainment quality on the very first liners wasn’t amazing but after some research I found that The largest production budgets fall within the cruise industry, also for a person of short attention span such as myself rather than just one show, you would learn anything up to five productions which would be performed across one cruise. Well, when I did hear, it was good news times three all in one day. Cunard, Royal Caribbean and Disney were all keen for me to sign contracts. Again, what made my mind up I just don’t know but this was the turning I chose, would I now be hopping from show to show in The West End if I’d have stuck out the city auditions? maybe, would I have hated living out of a suitcase in a different hotel each night as a touring artist? probably…..who knows. I’m a believer in fate and life being pre designed so I’m more than happy today with the choice I made then.
Would you recommend cruising?
Yes, for both work and pleasure. As a crew member I travelled the world, performed in some fantastic shows where I learned new skills such as twin wire harnessed flying and arial circus arts, plus I saved enough to get myself onto the property ladder at the age of 21. As a guest, which I’ve enjoyed since, well it’s our number one choice for a vacation.
Why did you start teaching?
I completely loved working through my first teaching certificate at college, I thrive on structure and have a firm believe in the education sector, but I never then pictured myself being a teacher. I returned home early from a cruise contract to recover from an ankle injury and dad some cover teaching at a local school. I just loved it, I found it rewarding and full of scope, plus it had the permanency that being in theatre didn’t. So crazy decision number three, I layed roots in Dorchester. Teaching work came thick and fast and soon I was working 7 days a week between 4 schools and saving hard for my first home.
What made you decide to start your own school?
Alongside working for other people, my own freelance work was also growing well, I qualified as a Cheerleading Coach, started a small entertainments company and began preparing students for dance festivals and competitions. I really enjoyed getting creative with this side of my work and also being able to control how things developed. In 2009 I took a deep breath and decided to open The Studio. Wow was running a business awake up call, do they say five years to establish a new business? Well I’d say eight for a school. You need to embrace being in continuous work mode, you never switch off but it’s all for something I thoroughly enjoy, I’m very lucky in that sense and with plenty of family help along the way I’m extremely proud of where the school is now.
So where from now?
It’s a busy stage in life for me at the moment with two small children, but I’m always looking ahead, it’s so important to keep growing, I always think the best teachers are the ones that don’t profess to know everything, I’ll always keep learning, always try to keep improving upon what I do…….I have a few aspirations for The Studio but they are in the notes by the side if the bed stage at the moment!
What’s been the best bit so far?
I used to roll my eyes at people who said this but bringing a tiny person into the world wins every time.
Has becoming a mum changed you as a teacher?
Absolutely, I know many fantastic teachers who don’t have children but I think once you are a parent you suddenly see all of your students as somebody’s child and you think what if that were my child? How would I feel for them? You get even more passion to help. I’ve now more empathy with both children and their parents, I understand both perspectives plus through the different stages of bringing up my eldest son, I’ve learned so many other levels of physical, social, emotional and cognitive development, the useful stuff they don’t cover in teacher training.
Some quirky facts about yourself?
At the age of 14 I was asked to train for the ladies downhill ski team.
My family is mad for tortoises, we now have three and counting.
I live on a farm, so when I’m not at The Studio I spend my life in wellys.
Last question: What’s your key message to the families that come to you at The Studio?
Good final question. There is definitely something different about The Studio, I’ve taught at lots of different schools and we have managed to somehow create a wonderful feel about the place which I hope will always remain. The name The Studio makes us sound far larger than we really are, essentially it is just myself and a group of young people learning and loving dance. My values are working hard, maintaining the enjoying in what we do, and simply offering good down to earth teaching. And that’s emphasis on teaching. Teaching is helping somebody to get better, times have moved on an awful lot from the disciplinarian days where teachers shout and tap the children’s feet with a stick to get them to point, you cant get lasting results from scaring somebody into doing it right, goodness knows this is a rewarding way of life for teacher or student. Knowledge, experience, passion, and personality, that for me is what makes a good teacher. Emphasis on the passion.