About Dancing Feet Academy
Dancing Feet Academy of Dance was established in 1995 and is now situated in the centre of Braunton in it’s own purpose built studio. We also have another branch in Barnstaple.
Over 300 pupils enjoy daily classes in the many disciplines that are on offer which cater for adults as well as children, starting with our special ‘Mummy ‘n’ Me’ Class for 2 year olds and now introducing ‘Silver Swans’ – Ballet Classes for the over 55’s proving that it is never too late to learn to dance.
Classes include RAD Ballet, ISTD Tap, ISTD Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Pre-School, Musical Theatre, Acrobatic Arts & not forgetting our popular adult classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz & Contemporary.
Classes are professionally structured and are taught in a caring and happy environment, building confidence and not forgetting the key work ‘FUN’. The Academy has attained some of the highest exam results, boasting a 100% pass rate, with many of its pupils achieving distinctions including those at Advanced level. It is also the first school in North Devon to be recognised by the C.D.M.T.
Principal, Nadine Morrish who was herself a professional dancer, believes it is important for pupils to have attainable goals whereby progress can be measured and therefore encourages pupils to take exams or assessments although these are not compulsory.
We offer many exciting performance opportunities including the chance to perform both locally and in the West End! Many of our former students are now performing professionally. Dancing is a fun way to exercise whether your children want to dance as a hobby or with a view to pursuing a professional career and they will be part of something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Principal: Nadine Morrish RADTC, AISTD (DDE), AAAD, RSA, DipLFIT
Nadine trained at the Portland Dance Academy in North Devon and then embarked on a very successful professional career which was to take her all over the world.
Dancing for many top choreographers and working alongside top T.V. celebrities she also appeared on television in the Far East, U.S.A. and the U.K. Nadine also spent several years dancing on board luxury Cruise Liners and as Dance Captain and Lead Dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines she was responsible for the teaching and rehearsing of the entire cast of the large West End style shows. One of her proudest accolades during this time was a quote from the former Vice-President of Carnival Cruise Lines, “During all my years at Carnival, Nadine is the most professional and dedicated Dance Captain that Carnival has ever employed”.
Upon her return to the U.K. Nadine gained her teaching qualifications with the R.A.D. and I.S.T.D. and is also a Mentor for the Royal Academy of Dance on their C.B.T.S. teaching programme. Since setting up Dancing Feet Academy Nadine has concentrated on preparing students for exams and performances including DFA’s own full-scale production shows which take place at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple. She has also taken students to the West End where they performed at the Shaftsbury Theatre and The London Palladium. Nadine herself recently dusted off her performing shoes to perform alongside other professional dancers at a charity gala event headlined by the comedian Brian Conley and held at The London Palladium.
Vice Principal: Natasha Jade
Natasha started dancing with Dancing Feet Academy at the age of 3 and during this time has performed in all their production shows. In more recent years she has choreographed senior dance routines for the shows, including DFA’s 18th Birthday 'Chorus Line' Reunion. For the Academy’s 20th Birthday, Natasha staged the West End choreography of 'Chicago' with 40 current students, ex-pupils and teachers!
At age 18, Natasha was one of the youngest students ever to successfully pass the C.B.T.S. teaching qualification with the R.A.D. Alongside this 2 year course of study she also achieved three A levels, her Advanced examinations in Ballet, Tap and Modern and was awarded a scholarship to commence full time training at Millennium Performing Arts, London where she trained for 3 years graduating with a National Diploma in Dance & Musical Theatre.
Natasha has since performed in many productions, including those at The London Palladium and The Alhambra Theatre (Bradford.) Also, working in London, she choreographed and taught TV's stand up comedian Russell Howard. The promotional material from this shoot was then shown across billboards in London and also at a large charity event in the city. Natasha then embarked on her debut cruise contract which was to take her to many beautiful countries including, Norway, Finland, Iceland & Russia.
Since then Natasha has been working in the sunshine for TUI’s Magic Life in Kos, Greece as Dance Captain! Performing in their nightly shows, and as a qualified group fitness instructor (IFAA) teaching classes daily, including pilates and yoga at the resort!
Natasha is very grateful to have returned home to DFA to pass on her knowledge and passion to the students and is honoured to work alongside her Mum Nadine. Natasha is extremely excited to now be Vice – Principal of DFA… a dream come true!
Patron - Damien Poole
A true Yorkshireman, Damien journeyed from West Yorkshire to London to pursue his career in Musical Theatre. He graduated from Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre in London with his degree in Dance and Musical Theatre and has enjoyed a ten-year career working in London’s West End.
He has just finished recording the soundtrack for the new Mary Poppins Returns Movie, and was one of Adele's backing singers on her Wembley tour dates.
His Theatre Credits Include; Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel in Grease (Piccadilly Theatre) Mad Hatter in Shrek the Musical (Original London Cast) Oompa Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Original World Cast) Kansa/Dance Captain in Gypsy (London Revivial Cast) Swing/Assistant Dance Captain in Groundhog Day (Original World Cast) West End Chorus in Chess in Concert (Founding Chorus Member) Soundtracks Recorded; Chess in Concert, Josh Groban's No1 Album 'Anthem', Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cast Album, Gypsy London Revival Cast Album. Workshops Participated; ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Groundhog Day’ and Disney’s ‘Frozen’
The Teaching Team at Dancing Feet Academy are all qualified and experienced teachers and are delighted to be passing on their wealth of knowledge and experiences to the children of North Devon.
With this line up of teachers the Academy’s Principal, Nadine Morrish, feels that their experience in the profession enables them to advise students and parents on the possibilities open to those who wish to turn a hobby into a career.
Sally Baddick – RAD Registered Teacher & RAD Examiner
Sally trained at the Portland Dance Academy in North Devon and was mentored and coached by the late Esme Preston as her ballet teaching assistant from 1975 until 1980. In 1982 Sally formed her own dancing school ‘Demi-Dance School’ which gave local children the opportunity to study many aspects of dance.
Her passion has always been teaching ballet enabling students to progress through their examinations grades to vocational level.
As principal of The Demi-Dance School Sally also devised and produced successful bi-annual show productions from which all proceeds were donated to local charities.
In 1995 Sally trained as a grades examiner for The Royal Academy of Dance, she was successful and regularly travels worldwide to examine. She is also a mentor on the C.B.T.S teaching programme.
Since 2006 Sally has taught ballet on a freelance basis.
Helena Farr DDI (ISTD), MAAD
Helena trained at the Portland Dance Academy. She danced professionally for many years working in the Middle East and on board luxury Cruise Liners cruising the Caribbean and Mediterranean before qualifying as a dance teacher on her return.
She joined Dancing Feet Academy in 1996.
Helena enjoys choreography and many of her routines have won DFA pupils accolades at local festivals including a routine which was selected to appear in ‘Stars for a Night with Wayne Sleep.
’Helena has also embarked on the I.S.T.D.‘s Diploma in Dance Education as part of her own professional development.
Karen Kenshole DDI (ISTD), MAAD, RSA
Karen trained at the Portland Dance Academy in Barnstaple. She later qualified as a dance teacher and fitness instructor and worked in the Middle East teaching dance and fitness.
Karen, now married with 2 children joined Dancing Feet Academy in 1996 and enjoys teaching dance to DFA’s youngsters as well as adult tap and Zumba. As part of her professional development she has also embarked on the ISTD‘s new teaching qualifications and is currently working towards the Diploma in Dance Education. Karen has also taught special needs dance classes at Pathfields School, Barnstaple and more recently trained to become a VeraFlow instructor (VeraFlow meaning - finding your true flow) - a stretch/dance/relax class incorporating mindfulness. Karen also enjoys teaching Zumba & FitSteps in the local community.
Sophie Tyler BA (Hons)
Sophie graduated from the University of Chichester with a degree in contemporary dance and spent many years teaching GCSE dance and communitry classes in North Devon.
She is the newest member of our teaching team and currently teaches all of our contemporary classes across the Academy.
Donella Woolmer (AISTD, ARAD)
Donella trained at Bird College, then in 1983 began a career as a Professional Ballet Dancer. She spent 12 years living in Germany and performing in 3 different Companies there, dancing in many well known Ballets including Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Le Sacre du Printemps.
She rose through the ballet company ranks, beginning in the corps de ballet and going on to dance Solo roles and pas de deux. Whilst working in German opera houses she also performed in various operettas and Musicals, including 'Cabaret', 'West Side Story ' and 'My Fair Lady'.
Donella met her husband Robert (also a dancer) in Germany, and after the birth of their first daughter in 1995 they decided to retire from dancing and return to England. She began teaching ISTD ballet in London and as a guest teacher at Bird college.
In 2000 she moved with her family to Devon, and after the birth of her third daughter, began teaching RAD and non syllabus ballet at The Landmark theatre, Ilfracombe .
In 2017 Donella joined Dancing Feet Academy covering the senior RAD ballet classes for Sally Baddick whenever she is away examining , and she is very happy to be part of the wonderful teaching team here!
Samantha Blackmore da Silva ISTD (DDE)
At the age of three, Sam started her training at the Portland Dance Academy and later attended the Demi Dance School in North Devon before continuing her dance training at the Northern Ballet School in Manchester.
Her professional career took her to Portugal, where she worked for several years alongside international choreographers, dancing both on stage and on TV.
After returning to the UK, she gained her teaching qualifications with the ISTD and has taught at various dance schools in North Devon. Sam's teaching specialism is tap, but she also enjoys teaching ballet and modern.
She is looking forward to joining the DFA teaching team.
Danielle always loved all styles of dance from a very young age and was one of the first students at Dancing Feet Academy Of Dance. It was here that she became inspired by the modern classes and naturally found herself having a love for street & commercial dance.
Danielle wanted to use her love of dance and fitness, so went on to qualify as a exercise to music instructor to teach fitness classes & also an ‘Urban Funk’ instructor teaching Hip Hop workout classes too. It was her love of street that brought Danielle back to Dancing Feet to teach their Street Dance classes for kids and then also adults commercial dance classes.
After having a break to have her 2 children, Danielle feels very proud and excited to be back with The Dancing Feet family once again to offer both kids & adults commercial dance classes!
Danielle is passionate about creating classes for both adults and children, that everybody feels welcome and encourages anyone and everyone to come along and just have a go and have some fun!
Natalie Wyeth - Administrator & Dance Assistant
Natalie is the newest member of the DFA team, taking on the role of administrator. She also assists Miss Natasha with all of our younger students in Braunton on a Saturday.
Clare Green BTEC Performing Arts (Dance Assistant)
Clare started dancing at the age of 5 and still loves it as much now as she did then! She studied A Level Dance and Performing Arts at the North Devon College for three years in which time she performed on many stages and in many competitions across Devon.
Clare joined Dancing Feet Academy in 2005, she says, “Whether you want to dance for a career, for fun, for fitness or for friendship I would recommend Dancing Feet Academy every time! Dancing is a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t give up helping to teach ballet, tap and modern for the world!”
Clare is currently on maternity leave, however still very much a big part of the DFA family.
Deana began dancing at the tender age of two and hasn’t stopped since! Training in her home town of Barnsley with Elizabeth Craven Deana succeeded at many local and national dance competitions (Miss Dance of GB – 2nd place 1981) and from here she pursued her professional dance career.
After a number of years working professionally (notable contracts; adidas UK, the BBC, P&O StadiumTheatre Co, Robert Earle Enterprises, Costa Cruise Lines, Pineapple Dance Studios) dancing and choreographing around the world and in London, Deana finally settled down with her husband Graham in Bradford. Following a brief spell working in arts management at the prestigious
Alhambra Theatre, (Customer Services Manager no less!) she finally opened her own dance school DMAcademy in February 1999. The last eighteen years have been a whirl of activity and Deana has now sold the school to focus on her own performing and professional career.
A most significant life changing occurrence happened to Deana 2006 when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer . . . . Since then life has not been quite the same and she makes no apology for coining the cliché cancer changed my life. At 43 Deana came out of professional retirement to be a Golden Girl dancing in Gerry Cottle’s WOW! show at the Palace Theatre, Paignton in 2007; a full
on summer season with a no holds barred Can Can – twice a day! This led to an appearance in Las Vegas and actually, Deana now dances and performs professionally any chance she gets.
Deana has produced lavish shows at the Alhambra Theatre for her own academy and has her own production company which stages productions in prestigious venues around the UK such as One Night Only @ the London Palladium
Liv Riley BA Hons
Liv trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, graduating in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Dance. During her time in London, Liv worked with professional choreographers and companies including Anna Williams, Zoi Dimitriou, Marie Gabrielle-Rotie and Sasha Waltz & Guests.
She performed in the City of London Festival and her choreography, ‘Scope for Space’, was selected to be performed for the Trinity Laban 2015 Degree Show.
Since relocating back home to Devon, Liv has co-founded Taw Graduate Dance, a group of recent graduates who choreograph and perform across the South West. She has also worked with Stacked Wonky Dance, performing ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ at Samphire festival in 2016.
Having achieved her advanced examinations in Ballet, Tap and Modern at DFA before pursuing her professional training. Liv is now thoroughly enjoying her return to Dancing Feet as part of the teaching team.
Nigel was born in Barnstaple, North Devon and grew up in nearby Ilfracombe from where he went to study music at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. His early days were spent learning his trade and he worked several years as an ad hoc singer for the BBC Chorus...
..being involved with all the major orchestras, conductors and singers of the time. His career changed one day when a BBC Producer asked him to provide a group of singers for a ‘Saturday Spectacular’ and ‘The Nigel Brooks Singers’ were born.
They became enormously successful and during their time appeared in all the major shows, on stage, television and radio. They achieved success in the recording world, earning 3 gold discs and 2 silver. Nigel, quite naturally, arranged all the music for his singers. Additionally he is a composer, with many works created for the BBC Concert Orchestra as well as the ballet world.
For some time he was Head of Music and Singing at the prestigious ‘Laine Theatre Arts’ as well as also being their Musical Director. Many of today’s West End stars passed through his orbit.
A few years ago Nigel decided to return to his home of North Devon and joined Dancing Feet Academy in 2007. He now continues to pass on his knowledge and extensive experience to those youngsters who aspire to stardom in the Musical Theatre and Music business. He says that he is busier than ever before, and enjoys every moment of it.
Gillian Hughes ANATD, DDI (ISTD)
Gillian trained in Manchester at the Lyn Jones School of Dance where she qualified with the N.A.T.D. in ballet, modern and tap. After beginning her teaching career there as an Associate she then progressed to become Principal of her own school in Cheshire for the next 10 years until 1997.
Enjoying a successful 100% pass rate in examinations, and raising thousands of pounds for local charities with the school’s staged performances, Gillian’s love of musical theatre led to many appearances and choreographic ventures in pantomime and musicals with a wide variety of local companies.
Upon relocating to North Devon with her family in 1998 Gillian became Vice-Chairman of Atlantic Coast Theatre appearing in and choreographing shows such as Crazy for You, Carousel, Copacabana, Big The Musical, The Producers, Acorn Antiques, The Wedding Singer and then with Barnstaple Musical Comedy Society for Calamity Jane and South Pacific.
Gillian’s career with Dancing Feet began in 2003 where she now pursues her passion for teaching tap dance, choreographing for shows and festivals and entering pupils for exams. As part of her ongoing professional and personal development Gillian has embarked on additional qualifications with the I.S.T.D. and is currently working towards the Diploma in Dance Education.
Sarah Grant Classical Performers Diploma - The Urdang Academy
Sarah Grant trained at The Urdang Academy, Covent Garden, from 1989-1992 graduating with a Diploma in Classical Performance. Moving to Devon in 2000 she first joined Dancing Feet as a student before becoming part of the teaching faculty.
She has choreographed a variety of shows for local companies ACT (Atlantic Coast Theatre) and BMCS (Barnstaple Musical Comedy Society) which include 'The Wizard of Oz', 'Footloose', 'The Producers', 'Blitz', 'The Sound of Music' and 'Rock of Ages'.
Over the last few years, Sarah has taught our adult ballet and jazz classes. During the Pandemic she also created 5 lockdown films with her dancers and videographer Gemma Pons Alsina, all set in beautiful North Devon.
Sarah has recently taken a sabbatical from her regular teaching at DFA, however we are very excited to continue to work together on more adult dance filming projects.
Thomas Spencer BMus Hons, LRAM, PGDip
English music artist, Thomas Spencer, studied voice at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London, England from which he gained his degree in music, post graduate diploma and advanced teaching qualification.
He is both a producer and award-winning recording artist who has worked with teams behind artists such as Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.
Thomas has performed in many of the UK’s major concert halls, professionally in music theatre, namely a lead role in Fame the Musical, sung on numerous films such as Captain America, Pirates of The Caribbean and How to Train Your Dragon, and on video games including God of War Ascension.
He has also performed live on ESPN in the United States, as a soloist to audiences up to 80,000 people, and in a wide range of venues globally.
He has featured on BBC Radio and Classic FM, has a background in choral singing, is a member of the British Phonographic Industry and has represented Britain on International Music Trade Missions. He has also been invited to give talks and masterclasses at colleges, including the prestigious University of Cambridge in England.
Thomas has now returned to the USA, however still regularly teaches our DFA musical theatre class online. Thomas is also in the process of creating lots of face to face musical theatre and vocal technique workshops alongside Miss Natasha each time he returns to Devon…. Watch this space!