Emil Dale Academy turns 10 in 2019, and it continues to go from strength to strength. So what’s the secret to its success?
“We’re a really ambitious company,” says Sarah Moore, Emil Dale Academy’s operations manager. “We’re always finding ways to bring the best training to our students. We’re always thinking outside the box. That’s what makes Emil Dale so special. We fight to be the best.”
At its state-of-the-art premises in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Emil Dale Academy offers a range of part-time and weekend courses, and three full-time programmes: a three-year BA (hons) in Professional Musical Theatre, a two-year intensive BTec course for those aged 16-19, and a one-year foundation course for those aged 17-24.
“Our one-year course has massively grown in popularity in recent years,” says Moore. “It’s designed to deliver intensive practical training to help students get places at the country’s top performing arts schools, or go straight into the industry if they’re ready.”
Emil Dale Academy’s ‘Gap Year’ programme is different from other foundation courses: it’s more intensive, lasts longer than some of its competitors’ programmes (it runs for three full terms) and is cheaper, too. School founder Dale says of the programme: “If you can find a true like-for-like course that costs less money, then we’ll train you for free.”
All Emil Dale Academy’s students receive comprehensive and cutting-edge, triple-threat training, with up to 35 contact hours per week, and a private, one-to-one singing lesson every week as well. It’s all courtesy of a team of expert staff and guest tutors, who boast a wealth of experience working in the industry and teaching at top drama schools.
Head of dance Laurie Scarth has performed in scores of professional musicals, including Hairspray, Sister Act and Cats at the London Palladium; head of music Tim Evans was formerly deputy head of music at Arts Ed in London, regularly works as a musical director and is an expert in vocal health; and head of acting Jason Marc-Williams has worked as a director and actor across the UK since graduating from Guildford School of Acting.
Not only do students at Emil Dale Academy enjoy the benefits of living within striking distance of London – it’s just half an hour into King’s Cross on the train – but they also have access to a range of state-of-the-art facilities. “We have two buildings, just around the corner from each other,” explains Moore. “We have 11 studios and seven one-to-one rooms. Our studios have mirrors, air conditioning and sprung floors. We have an on-site healthy eating cafe and a social study space as well, and a pop-up, public-facing professional theatre too – the Factory Playhouse.”
Emil Dale Academy embraces inclusivity and diversity, and tries to ensure that everyone accepted on to its programmes is able to attend. The school prides itself on its affordability, its range of scholarships, and the support it provides in arranging accommodation in the local area.
“You can be who you want to be at Emil Dale,” says Moore. “We find that people really thrive here, because they are being pushed intensively, but there’s lots of support as well. We tailor our training to individual needs, so everyone has the experience they need to become the best they can be.”
The consistent success of Emil Dale’s approach to training is best demonstrated by the success of its alumni. Recent former students from the foundation courses have gone on to study at top musical theatre institutions, including choosing to stay for further training at Emil Dale, and to perform professionally in the West End and on UK tours such as Bat Out of Hell, Joseph and The Book of Mormon.”
Plenty will be on display later this year, when Emil Dale Academy celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a cast of former students, new students and West End professionals at Indigo at The O2. Not bad for a drama school only a decade old.