Dance School Teaching Faculty
Graham School of Dance’s high standards and reputation for excellence are maintained by the dedicated, highly qualified and experienced teachers in the team. All staff are subject to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (Enhanced Disclosure).
The Dance School has a pro-active programme of Continuing Professional Development and has close working relationships with Dance and Drama accreditation bodies such as the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and AQA.
ARAD RAD RTS (Principal)
Aileen established Graham School of Dance in 1990, initially at one venue, but expanding over 26 years to cover a wide local area in Hertfordshire and Essex. She trained firstly in Manchester, then at The Royal Ballet School before returning to the north-west to complete her training at Northern Ballet School. She worked and taught in Italy and the USA before returning to the UK to set up her own School.
Aileen is extremely proud to have trained the only UK female candidate chosen to take part in the 2016 Prix de Lausanne Ballet competition. This prestigious international dance competition, held annually in Switzerland, is for young dancers seeking to pursue a professional career in classical ballet, and many former prize winners of the competition are now leading stars with major ballet companies around the world. Miss Graham's candidate was also the first UK pupil training at a non-vocational, part-time school to be chosen since 1973, to add to this exciting achievement. Aileen was delighted that the Graham School of Dance candidate was offered 4 scholarship places at European Vocational Dance Schools to continue her full-time training, and accepted the place at the Royal Ballet School in London, where she has now commenced.
Aileen has also trained several pupils, both girls and boys, who have attained full-time places at top UK Vocational Schools, such as the Royal Ballet School, Elmhurst School for Dance, English National Ballet School and Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance.
Aileen also trained the Level 1 winner of the 2015 Royal Academy of Dance UK Genée Dance Challenge competition held at RAD Headquarters in Battersea, and in 2014 she also trained two pupils who won places to represent the UK in the RAD Genée Challenge competition at Level 1 and Level 2, with one pupil then going on to win Level 2 overall in the European Finals in Antwerp! She also trained the Level 1 winner of the 2011 RAD UK Genée Dance Challenge.
Aileen has choreographed for and trained All England Dance competition Medalists and Finalists with solos, duets, trios, quartets and groups, with several attaining top 3 places and Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, at successive competitions.
Most recently, for the 2015 Finals, seven of her Classical and Modern Ballet groups won Finals places, and sixteen Classical and Modern Ballet solos/duets/trios, with pieces again attaining Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, including her Senior Modern Ballet group piece, Noir, not only attaining 1st place and the Gold medal, but being requested to dance in the prestigious end of Finals Gala. A pupil trained by Aileen also won through to compete in the prestigious All England Dance Young Ballet Dancer competition at the 2015 Finals.
At the 2015 All Engand Finals, as well as for Noir Aileen's pupils won Gold medals (1st places) for their Classical Ballet group Primrose (age 12 & under), for her Modern Ballet duet age 14 years and also her Classical Ballet trio (age 9 & under), for which tit was a unanimous Gold. Silver medals (2nd places) were attained for her Classical Ballet solo age 11, Modern Ballet solo age 14, Classical Ballet trio age 12 & under and Classical Ballet duet age 9 & under. Bronze medals (3rd places) were won for her Classical Ballet group age 15 & under, Modern Ballet group age 15 & under, Classical Ballet group age 9 & under, Modern Ballet solo age 16, and Classical Ballet solos age 11 and also age 16.
At the 2013 Finals, Aileen's pupils attained several top 3 placings, including Silver medals for their Classical Ballet solo age 11, Classical Ballet duet age 9 & under, and Classical Ballet group age 15 & under, and Bronze medal for her student for her Modern Ballet solo age 14 years.
As well as being Principal of Graham School of Dance, Aileen teaches Classical Ballet and Modern Ballet, and enters pupils at all levels of RAD Ballet Grades, including Vocational Grades up to and including Advanced 2. Students in 2014, 2015 and 2016 havee attained Distinction for their RAD Advanced 2 Ballet exam, thus enabling them to enter the prestigious RAD International Genée competition.
Aileen is fully registered with the Royal Academy of Dance, and has been involved with the RAD Regional Advisory Committee for the Midlands & East of England region, liaising with the Academy, and supporting fellow teacher members and pupils: she organises Scholarship days, meetings and special teaching sessions with Examiners to support pupils as well as teachers in their continuing professional development. As well as running Graham School of Dance, she is married with three children.
Dip. RBS (TTC), ARAD, AISTD (CF, NF), RAD RTS, Head of Ballet
Judith Harris trained with Miss Graham at Graham School of Dance from the age of 11, and was an associate at London Senior Ballet and Central School of Ballet. She also performed with the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain from 1989-1994. At 15, Judith gained a coveted place at The Royal Ballet Upper School, graduating with their Teachers Training Course Diploma in 1997. During her time at RBS she had many opportunities to perform with the company in ‘walk on’ roles and enjoyed assisting and teaching at White Lodge, Upper School and for the Associate Programme, and also for Graham School of Dance and at London Junior Ballet.
As well as Classical Ballet, Judith is qualified to teach Royal Ballet Repertoire, Character, Classical Spanish Dance and Contemporary Dance, and holds the Pilates Institute Mat-work Certificate. Judith also gained her Royal Academy of Dance, Cecchetti Ballet and National Advanced exams, and holds Registered Teacher status with the RAD. She also has her Imperial Society (ISTD) Cecchetti Ballet and National Dance Teaching Associate and Benesh Dance Notation exams. Judith was awarded the Joan Lawson National Dance Prize upon graduation and was runner up in both the Cecchetti Cyril Beaumont Award and Ninette de Valois Choreographic Competition.
Judith joined the staff of The National Youth Ballet in 1997 and has been regularly involved with the company as Choreographer, Repetiteur, Ballet Mistress and company teacher. Many of her student contacts at NYB are now world renowned dancers in top ballet companies and in the musical theatre and commercial dance industries.
In 1998 Judith returned to Graham School of Dance as a teacher, and has taught students of all age groups throughout the school and in various branches. She is delighted to have been involved in the successful preparation and training of a Graham School of Dance student for the prestigious international 2016 Prix de Lausanne Ballet competition. The GSD student chosen was the UK's first non-vocational school candidate chosen since 1973, and indeed the only UK female competitor for 2016. Her participation resuted in the student accepting a full time vocational place to continue her training at the Royal Ballet School. Judith has also trained several other pupils at Graham School of Dance who have then furthered their training at the Royal Ballet School in London, as well as at Elmhurst School for Dance and English National Ballet School. She is extremely grateful for the excellent preparation Graham School of Dance gave her for her career to date. She has choreographed many Classical group and solo pieces for festivals, which have regularly been taken through and placed at the prestigious All England Dance Finals. Judith prepares students for their RAD exams, auditions, competitions and is also trained to teach the Pre-School Melody Bear © syllabus, which introduces dance and movement to the youngest pupils at Graham School of Dance.
Judith is also a cover teacher for the Associate Programme at The Royal Ballet School and has regularly taught company class for the Chelmsford Ballet Company. Amongst her choreographic credits Judith featured in and created the classwork and fairy dances for the award winning Dance like the Flower Fairies DVD.
Judith is married with three young children, a farm and a dog!
LISTD, RAD RTS, CDE, Head of Tap and Modern Dance
Hannah Davies is a fully registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance and has attained her Licentiate from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. She trained at Stella Mann College, having been taught by Aileen Graham at Graham School of Dance. Hannah teaches ISTD Tap and Modern Dance and Royal Academy of Dance Classical Ballet for Graham School of Dance, at both Grade and Vocational Grade level, and also invitation classes for pupils with particular potential in Modern and Contemporary Dance and Tap.
She creates and teaches award-winning solo, duet, trio, quartet and group choreography for dance festivals, and 15 of her pieces reached the Finals of the 2015 All England Dance competition, all of which attained Honours, and several Finals pieces were placed in the 2013 Finals: the Silver medal was awarded for her Modern Dance quartet age 15 years & under, and Bronze medals awarded for her Modern Ballet solo age 16 and her Modern Dance trio age 16 & over .
Hannah trained the winner of the Junior Section of the ISTD Modern Theatre Dance Janet Cram competition, and has trained pupils who have reached the Janet Cram Finals every year since 2007.
She is also fully trained to teach Melody Bear ® introductory classes for our youngest pupils.
Her performing experience includes employment as a professional dancer performing on cruise ships around the African coast & Mediterranean.
AISTD, teacher of Tap, Modern and Jazz, and former Principal of Dance Design Theatre Arts
After graduating from Performers College, Jody went on to pursue her professional dancing career, landing her first role as ensemble and understudy Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street and on the UK tour. Soon after Jody toured in various musical productions in the UK and Ireland and later around the world on the P&O cruise ship Aurora. After returning to the UK Jody has appeared as a backing dancer for numerous artists and music videos. However, it was not until she started to teach and choreograph that she found this was her true love. Since she started teaching in 2002, Jody has entered pupils into various exams and always gained 100 per cent pass rate, mainly at the highest Distinction level.
In 2009 Jody became principal of Dance Design Theatre Arts and under her reign the school became one of the most successful schools in the UK! Jody entered many children to the highest level of competitions, including training winning pupils in the ISTD Janet Cram Modern Dance Awards and Marjorie Davies Tap Awards , and had countless winning numbers at the All England Dance finals with dances chosen for the Gala numerous times. Jody was nominated for the Joanne Marsden Blackwell Choreographic Award at The All England Dance Finals on many occasions and has received various other Choreographic recognitions at the Dance World Cup. Jody has also trained pupils who won Young Tap Dancer of the Year, as well as all of her pupils gaining entry into some of the country’s best dance and Performing Arts colleges many with funding.
Jody is extremely excited for the merger of Dance Design and Graham School of Dance and is looking forward to a fabulous future in teaching the talented pupils we have there!
CDE, BTEC ND in Dance, ND (Trinity)
Carley Spendlove joined Graham School of Dance in 2007, and teaches Tap, Modern Dance, Jazz and Musical Theatre/Song & Dance, along with Street Dance/Hip Hop, which she introduced to the School. She teaches pupils of all ages, at Grade and Vocational Grade levels as well as freework, Festival and Show work.
As well as training Finalists for the 2015 ISTD Janet Cram Modern Dance UK competition, Carley choreographs award-winning Modern, Tap, Contemporary and Street Dance Festival pieces for Graham School of Dance, with groups, solos, duets, trios and quartets regularly reaching the Finals of the All England Dance competition: 19 pieces won through to the 2015 Finals. She is delighted that the Gold medal was awarded for her age 9 years & under Tap group and Bronze medals for her Senior Contemporary duet piece and Contemporary quartet, as did the group Song & Dance pieces she was involved with in this national competition; all her other Finals pieces attained Honours. In 2013 one of her pupils won the Silver medal at the Finals with her Contemporary solo, and in 2011, pieces won Finals places and Special Commendations. Her Senior Street Crew were Finalists in the UK Festival4Stars competition 2010 and also in Sky 1 TV’s Got to Dance competition 2011 won through to the filmed auditioned stages. Her younger Street crew NXT Generation also progressed to the final stage of the 2012 UK Festival4Stars competition.
Having won a DaDa award, Carley trained at Performers College, attaining her National Diploma in Musical Theatre, having previously trained at Jason Theatre School under Joy Spriggs. Professional experience includes Lead Production Singer (Carnival Cruise Lines, touring internationally, 2006), lead roles in Children of Eden (Performers College, 2006), dancer in Night at the Musicals (Savoy Hotel, London, 2005), lead vocalist and dancer at The Daisy Ball and The Candy Ball (Grosvenor House Hotel, celebrity charity events 2005/06). Television credits include GMTV 2005 (British Heart Foundation), and Top of the Pops international links (2004).
For four seasons Carley was in the choreography team for the Rhodes professional pantomime, Bishop’s Stortford, choreographing and rehearsing Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood (2007), Cinderella (2008), Aladdin (2009) and Jack and the Beanstalk (2010/2011). She then joined the team at Hertford Theatre in (2012) and played the part of Tommy the cat as well as being Assistant Choreographer in Hertford's pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat. She returned as Assistant choreographer for Beauty and the Beast (2013) and is very excited to be part of the team for a 3rd year running as Associate Choreographer for Cinderella and the Glass Slipper (2014)
DipLCM (Musical Theatre Performance), HND Performing Arts (Music Theatre); Working towards the LAMDA Diploma in Communication, Speech and Drama Education (LSDE)
Gemma joined Graham School of Dance and Theatre Arts in 2009, teaching group classes in Drama and Musical Theatre, and preparing pupils for solo, duo and group LAMDA Examinations in Musical Theatre, Acting, Miming, Devising Drama, Speaking Verse and Prose and Reading for Performance, consistently attaining outstanding results. She also prepares pupils for their vocational college/further education auditions, with past pupils winning places at Laine Theatre Arts, Bird College, Urdang, Performers College and Bournemouth Arts University. With her help, a senior pupil has recently successfully auditioned for the highly acclaimed National Youth Theatre.
She enters pupils for Speech and Drama Festivals in solos in Acting, Verse Speaking, Miming, Acting Musical Theatre and Prose Reading, where they regularly attain Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and are awarded Festival Cups. In 2017, after an outstanding performance, one of her pupils was specially invited to perform in the North London Festival of Music, Speech and Drama Festival Concert. In 2016, after their success at the Chelmsford Competitive Festival of Music and Drama, two of her pupils were specially invited to perform at the Celebratory Prizewinners' Concert.
Gemma also creates solo, duet, trio, quartet and group pieces for the Song and Dance sections at Dance Festivals, including the All England Dance Competition. Most recently, ALL of her Song and Dance pieces reached the 2017 All England Dance Competition Regional Finals, and she is delighted that her group 'Flash Bang Wallop!' ( this time in the 21 years & under section) was again a National Finalist. Many of her pieces reached the 2015 All England Dance Competition Regional Finals, and two of her group Song and Dance pieces ('Singin' in the Rain' - 12 years & under and 'Flash Bang Wallop!' - 15 years & under) won through to the All England National Finals for the 2015 competition, and then BOTH pieces went on to attain 3rd places with the BRONZE MEDALS in this national competition.
She is also extremely pleased that her Song and Dance trio 'Put It In The Book' was chosen from entries from around the country to represent Team England at the finals of the largest international dance competition in the world, the Dance World Cup, held in Offenburg, Germany in June 2017, and she was delighted that it went on to bring home the BRONZE MEDAL in the Children's Song and Dance Duets/Trios section.
Together with the creative team at GSD, Gemma has created, written, directed and choreographed the Drama and Musical Theatre for the school shows Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Rhodes Arts Complex, 2011), Toy Stories (Hertford Theatre, 2014), and Monsters Let Loose (Hertford Theatre, 2016), and in 2013, organised and delivered the first GSD Drama and Musical Theatre Showcase, which has become a successful biennial event, moving to the Rhodes Arts Complex in 2017. Currently, Gemma sings backing vocals for the band Crocodile Mock: The Elton John Tribute. Her other performance experience includes function bands Wait For The Name (lead vocals), Prima Donna (lead vocals), Cover Notes (lead vocals), Mind the Gap (dep. lead vocals) and Trademark (backing vocals). Gemma was lead vocalist for the corporate entertainment company Masquerade, and a session vocalist for the studios Treble Clef Productions, IMC Music and BMN Music. As a voice-over artist, Gemma has worked for Three Circles Audio and is a resident artist for Adphonic Digital Media. As artistic director of Inspire Theatre Company, she co-wrote, directed and choreographed the KS1 Theatre in Education multi-media musical Baron Baritone and his Menacing MusicVac, touring nationally. Other teaching experience includes: Hertford Regional College (Drama/Musical Theatre Lecturer), East Herts Youth Theatre (Drama Tutor), Stage Door Theatre School (LAMDA/LCM Examinations Coach), Theatretrain Bury St. Edmunds/Braintree/Bishop's Stortford (Drama/Singing Tutor), Brentwood Borough Council (The Music Bus Young People's Project Worker), Drama/Storytelling workshops for Rhodes Arts Complex and Shadow Puppet workshops for Saffron Screen Film Festival.
Gemma lives locally and is married with two children.
Jo Ellis trained at Performers College and later at The Centre under the direction of Karen King to gain her teaching qualifications up to Licentiate status. She is an Approved Tutor for the ISTD and is currently working towards her Fellowship Exams. Jo's passion is Tap and she has enjoyed spending time in LA working with some of America's greatest tappers.
Jo teaches Grade and Vocational Grade classes for Graham School of Dance, both at The Studios and at our Church Langley branch. She has over 20 years teaching experience, working in various dance schools, vocational colleges and secondary schools. She currently teaches Modern, Tap, Ballet and Jazz to children as well as the DDI Modern Theatre and Tap & DDE Modern Theatre and Tap courses at DDTSTT.
AISTD, IBB, NB, MTBdip, TB dip
Madeline Tugwell teaches Tap, Modern, Jazz, Classical Ballet and National Dance at Graham School of Dance, to children aged 3 up through the Grades to seniors at Vocational Grade level. She trained at Stella Mann College, and previously was Principal of her own dance school in Hemel Hempstead; she joined Graham School of Dance in 1991, and has taught winning group and solo Modern, Tap and Ballet dance pieces, including for the All England Dance competition..
RAD RTS; National Diploma in Performing Arts (Trinity)
Lisa Gilbert trained with the Royal Academy of Dance and at Italia Conti in Dance, Drama and Singing, and teaches Classical Ballet for Graham School of Dance at their premises in central Bishop's Stortford. She taught at the Bow Associates branch of Italia Conti and has established her own ballet school in East London, alongside her Graham School of Dance teaching. She has many television, theatre, promotional and modelling credits, and teaches regularly at secondary and primary schools in London and Hertfordshire.
RAD RTS (PTDT Dis) ARAD
Catherine is a fully registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance having qualified from the RAD's Professional Dancers' Teaching Diploma with Distinction. She trained locally before her full time training at English National Ballet School, and previously at Central School of Ballet and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts (formerly Arts Educational School, Tring Park). She was selected from school to join English National Ballet and has performed with the company around the world. Catherine teaches Classical Ballet for Graham School of Dance, and is married with two children.
RAD RTS ARAD
Denise trained at the Bush Davies School, and then under Ruth French and Alex Morrow and Brenda Last OBE. She joined Graham School of Dance in 2015, teaching Royal Academy of Dance Classical Ballet Grade and Vocational Grade syllabi, along with Festival work.
Denise danced professionally for over 12 years, including in companies such as Irish National Ballet, Ballet for All, Dublin City Ballet and British Ballet Theatre, performing roles in many classical and modern ballets. She worked with Rudolf Nureyev in Manfred and was chosen to play Giselle and Queen of the Wilis by Sir Anton Dolin and John Gilpin in Dublin and London, as well as many othe rclassical roles, including Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. She was was involved in film and TV work, including the Eurovision Song Contest, before setting up and running her own School. She has also taught at Masters vocational college, guest teaches for Chelmsford Ballet Company (for whom she has also produced), and coaches classes for examinations with great success, as well as working in Learning Support at a Junior School local to her home town of Southend-on-Sea.
LISTD, Cert Ed, Trinity Diploma in Musical Theatre
Selina teaches Classical Ballet, Tap, Modern Dance, Jazz, Musical Theatre and Drama at Graham School of Dance at The Studios at Bishop’s Stortford and our Takeley and Felsted branches, including working with All England Dance pupils who have reached the 2015 Finals. She trained at Laine Theatre Arts, successfully completing the 3 year Dance and Musical Theatre course, and has attained her Licentiate of the ISTD. Selina joined Graham School of Dance in 2010 and her professional experience includes contracts as a Cabaret Singer with Showcase Entertainments on cruise ships as well as around Europe.
Chelsey is a former Graham School of Dance pupil, and now teaches at The Studios as well as at our branches. She teaches Ballet, Tap, Modern Dance, Street Dance and Musical Theatre, to pupils from the age of 3 to teens. She also teaches Melody Bear ® to our youngest pupils at the School, introducing pre-school children to Dance, Music and Movement. She has completed her ISTD DDI training, and lives near Bishop's Stortford and has two young children.
Toni Dimmock teaches Ballet, Modern Theatre, Tap and Street Dance for Graham School of Dance to children from the age of 3 as well as Melody Bear classes for our youngest pre-school children ages 2 - 3. Toni qualified as a Dance Teacher having studied at Preston College Dance Academy, and forerlly trained at Jason Theatre School. She is also a qualified Zumba Instructor. Toni danced professionally for several years, most recently for Princess Cruises on the P & O Pacific Sun, including creating choreography whilst on board ship, and singing and acting too. She also performed for Costa Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.
Dance Teacher, Commercial and Modern Dance
Louise started dancing at age three at a local dance school in Manchester, studying various forms of dance including Ballet, Tap and Modern, but her passion lay in the street dance/commercial field. Louise moved to London and got her first professional job at age 17 in world renowned street dance show Bounce directed by Anthony Van Laast. Louise won acting parts in commercials and TV shows, but after successfully auditioning to dance for Whitney Houston at the MTV awards, Louise’s dance career flourished. She has gone on to dance for various artists, including Mariah Carey, Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams, Pharrell, NE-YO, One Direction, JLS, Leona Lewis, 50 Cent, N-Dubz, Danni Minogue, Cher Lloyd, Professor Green and danced on TV shows like The X factor, Strictly, MTV awards and The Brit awards. Louise has gone on to choreograph for artists including being assistant choreographer on all JLS arena tours and is a judge at several International street dance competitions. Having been a key teacher at Dance Design Theatre Arts, Louise is delighted to be sharing her experience and knowledge with the students of Graham School of Dance and is extremely happy to be a part of such a talented school.