The dance teacher and head of performing arts at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College in Southampton talks to John Byrne about her career and shares her tips for students…
How did you start off in theatre?
Dancing as a young girl.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Take all opportunities to meet and network with industry professionals. Be diverse and open-minded about styles and repertoire. Also, be true to your creativity: don’t mimic, create.
What would you change about UK training?
The cost. All training should be government-funded. The creative sector has no less value than other subjects. We are all academics with different skills and the arts are key to any successful and thriving community. The arts also happen to contribute significantly to the UK economy.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing students develop and achieve things that perhaps they once didn’t have the self-belief to think they could achieve.
And your least favourite?
Being restricted by funding and working with people who have no passion to be innovative.
Who are the practitioners you admire that students should look up to?
It’s almost impossible to name only one or two. If I have to choose two, as a choreographer I would say Matthew Bourne for his inclusivity in terms of the public being more engaged with dance. As a dancer, Misty Copeland is showing female dancers they can have beauty, strength and business acumen. She is a fantastic role model for young girls in this industry.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
A self-fuelled sense of drive and determination that doesn’t forsake others.
What makes you want to teach?
It provides the chance to inspire students and give them the self-belief to go beyond what they think is achievable. That is the most rewarding legacy any teacher can leave behind.