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Emil Dale Academy: Offering BA (hons) in Musical Theatre with access to student finance

A student performs in Thoroughly Modern Millie at Emil Dale Academy in 2018

Specialising in musical theatre, Emil Dale Academy in Hertfordshire has the state-of-the-art facilities, contact hours and high-quality teaching needed to help students become triple threats. And, if you need a break, it offers hot yoga

On the eve of its 10th anniversary in 2019, Emil Dale Academy has come a long way in a short time and is now one of the first-choice destinations for students intent on a career in the performing arts and for those wanting the best and most thorough preparation to help them succeed.

At the UK’s most extreme triple-threat training course, ‘best’ means precisely that. The academy’s three-storey buildings in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, house impressive facilities across 20,000 sq ft, including 11 studios, seven 1:1 rooms (for individual teaching sessions) and a 200-seat theatre.

But it’s not just the impressive bricks-and-mortar home that has been attracting growing numbers of students, says academy founder and principal Emil Dale.

“Besides our state-of-the-art facilities, we have incredible teachers drawn from experienced West End performers and course content of unbeatable quality offering high contact hours and classes in the broadest range of disciplines and skills for a career in musical theatre.”

Dale’s passion for teaching and his determination to provide the best has led to tremendous growth in the demand for places as students search for an innovative, creative and wholly contemporary launch pad into the industry.

New in 2018 is a three-year BA (hons) course in musical theatre, specifically designed for the academy in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, an association that gives students access to a wide range of benefits, not least sector-wide financial assistance with access to tuition fees and maintenance loans through student finance to help with costs.

With between 32 and 35 contact hours a week – some of the highest in the sector – and tutors drawn from throughout the industry, the course focuses on practical training as well as helping students understand how they can make a sustainable living in the industry.

“Students need more than just technique if they are to survive and succeed in a competitive industry. We teach them how to read and understand a contract, familiarise themselves with the movers and shakers – from casting directors to directors and agents – and all the things they will encounter in a working career as a performer.”

That combination of conservatoire rigour and university interrogation offers students the best of both worlds, an advantage heightened by year-group sizes being kept small to allow for a stronger focus on individual learning needs, says Dale.

“The breadth of what we offer provides students with access to all the benefits of university life. As well as our unbeatable offering of highly skilled and motivated teaching staff, we offer visiting tutors drawn from experienced West End performers, private, one-to-one singing lessons – a feature on all our courses – our full-scale musical productions with orchestra, a London showcase and guaranteed agency representation.”

A student performs in Thoroughly Modern Millie at Emil Dale Academy in 2018

There’s also the bonus of weekly hot yoga and group personal training sessions providing students with invaluable introductions to maintaining mental and physical well-being.

“Our emphasis on vocational training has been strengthened by our new degree course. Think of it as conservatoire-plus or university-plus. It’s another reason why the demand for places is increasing, with students seeing us as a real alternative to the either-or choice they’ve previously faced.”

With annual intake restricted to a maximum of 48, Emil Dale Academy students can be sure of training designed to help them realise their potential.

“We’re about getting people industry-ready so they can make the best start to their careers, but we also provide them with a degree that gives them other options and widens their career choices.”

While the academy encourages graduating students to seek independent representation, its own agency provides support and a solid start to their careers.

For students looking for more intensive training and a springboard into further studies, the academy’s one-year foundation course in musical theatre offers a fast-track introduction, says Dale.

“We offer high-volume teaching-contact hours across three terms providing dedicated singing tutors (not just accompanists), dance classes that include all-too-rare instruction in tap and an all-round grounding in technical skills.”

Year group sizes are limited to 48 and there are at least 32 teaching hours a week, so students receive a similar breadth of training and access to industry professionals as that available on a longer degree course.

It’s a measure of the success of the academy’s approach that more graduates are gaining places at top musical theatre colleges than other like-for-like courses.

Such results, says Dale, “really do speak for themselves”. He adds: “We’ve also had people going straight into professional work from the foundation course alone.”

In between the three-year degree and one-year foundation courses is the academy’s two-year sixth-form course in musical theatre, which, insists Dale, “includes the same extreme triple-threat training that we’ve become known for”.

Tailored to individual students’ needs, classes he adds, “include acting, dancing (everything from ballet to jazz), ensemble and solo singing, audition technique, West End masterclasses and more, all of which leads to two full productions every year with a full West End band”.

As the academy moves towards its second decade, its intensive, all-round, value-for-money proposition has seen its profile increasing year on year. Today, an increasing number of students see it as their first-choice destination for unmatched training, driven, says Dale, by a defining ambition to be offered value for money.

“Our standards are extremely high, our teachers are the best and our results are among the best in the industry,” he adds.

No longer the new kid on the block, Emil Dale Academy now stands alongside its longer-established competitors to offer students a real alternative.

As Dale says: “To be the best they can be they have to be given the best they can get. That’s what we aim to do here.”


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