Gemma Pender RAD RTS AIDTA AISTD BBO RTS Member of the International Dance Council CID – Principal & Founder


After nine years of dedicated and enthusiastic early dance training at her local dance school Gemma attained a place at the Urdang Academy in Covent Garden as an Associate at the age of fourteen. Aged sixteen Gemma received a coveted award to study at the Urdang Academy full time, however opted for the more northerly location of Preston to complete her three year professional dancers and teachers of dance training achieving advanced level dance qualifications in modern, tap, national, ballet and contemporary, in addition to teaching qualifications with the Royal Academy of Dance and Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. On graduating Gemma was awarded the “Teaching Award” for her year.

After working professionally as a dancer for a short time, Gemma decided to commit her energies to dance education and the study of dance pedagogy embarking upon a higher education programme at the Royal Academy of Dance in London to study Dance Education.In 2003 Gemma was appointed as Community Arts Development Manager and Teacher of Dance at Thistley Hough High School and Specialist Arts College in Stoke on Trent. In her role as Community Arts Development Manager Gemma coordinated, produced, directed and choreographed two full scale arts extravaganzas at the Victoria Hall in

Stoke on Trent, each production involving more than five hundred local school children. In 2005 Gemma was promoted to Head of Dance and subsequently Head of Expressive Arts also taking on the roles of Transition Manager and Creative Partnerships Coordinator. As Creative Partnerships Coordinator, Gemma was invited to present at the Department for Education”s Head Quarters in London, on the value of Creative Partnerships in education. During her time at Thistley Hough High School, Gemma managed and directed “Gener8″, an urban arts youth dance company distinguished by their employment of the arts as a medium to convey positive social messages. In 2007 Gener8 won the “Young Persons Creative Culture” award at the Staffordshire Citizens of the Year awards and in the same year were shortlisted for the national “Special Recognition Spotlight” award. In 2010 Gemma was appointed by the qualifications awarding body AQA, as examiner of GCSE Expressive Arts.

One of Gemma’s long-standing career aspirations was finally realised in 2010, when she founded The Academy for Performing Arts Limited and the rest, as they say, is history!


opportunity to be represented by west end casting agent “Gilbert &Payne”.

Samantha is forever pushing the boundaries in all aspects of theatre. In 2012 she directed the play “Monty’s Barrow” which was a huge success at The One Act Play Festival winning the award for “Best junior play” and received fantastic reviews. 

Samantha’s wish is to improve participation within Performing Arts, and to develop every single one of her students as an individual to fulfil their true potential here at The Academy for Performing Arts. 

Samantha Abbotts


Dedicated to inspiring children and young adults, Samantha Abbotts began her career as a Teacher, Performer, and Choreographer after graduating from The Hammond in Chester. Samantha received a DaDa Award which enabled her to train for three years  gaining a Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre.  Most recently she has completed The B.B.O Level 4 in Dance Teaching.

Samantha has always had a great passion for performance and is committed to helping students achieve their dreams. She started dancing from an early age and soon developed great technique in Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Musical Theatre, so much so that she was offered a place at The Urdang Academy in London, where she received intense training from industry professionals on a regular basis. 

Samantha then went on to further her training at Laine Theatre Arts, London, where she found her love for commercial Jazz. She was later awarded a scholarship  with the British Ballet Organisation where she received training from leading professional ,David Needham in Manchester and then later in London as a B.B.O Jazz scholar. Throughout her dance training Samantha never lost sight of her love for Singing and Drama and soon appeared in many shows including Cabaret, We Will Rock You, Mary Poppins and 42nd Street.  She has performed in many theatres including the famous Bloomsbury Theatre and The Shaw Theatre in London where she appeared as lead vocalist in H.P.C.  It is here that she was given the


Bethany Lewis BA (Hons)


Bethany started her Performing Arts journey when she was 4 years old at a local dance school, taking classes in a wide range of different dance styles.  

Throughout school she performed in shows such as Blood Brothers and Bugsy Malone whilst undertaking GCSE’s in Dance and Drama. Bethany’s main focus originally was performing, but started to get a taste of teaching by helping lead Performing Arts workshops for a primary exchange programme. This then developed into a chance to work at The New Vic theatre for her work experience placement, which then led to many work and performance opportunities with the award-winning Borderlines Department. 

Bethany was awarded a place at a specialist vocational performing arts school where she studied a BTEC extended diploma in Performing Arts. Whilst there she had the opportunity to perform at The Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden and take West End Workshops, as well as receiving  solo parts in termly school productions.

She was then offered an unconditional place at The University of Wolverhampton to study a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre. In the three years that she was there Bethany gained a whole new catalogue of knowledge which she hopes to continue developing in the coming years. She also gained valuable experience when going on a trip to New York where she took part in Broadway workshops, and sung in front of well-known Broadway composer Georgia Stitt. Bethany was also cast as a named part as well as production manager for Sister Act - her final musical at university. Alongside studying Bethany took on a part time role as Singing Teacher at a local performing arts school, it was there she really became passionate about teaching and knew that she wanted to pursue it further. 

After graduating in September 2018 with a Second Class (1st Division Honours Degree) Bethany will continue pushing her teaching and performing abilities, having already got involved in teaching private singing lessons and workshops and taking on main roles within a local theatre company. Bethany is always wanting to continue to learn and pass on her passions with all the children she works with, and looks forward to her future adventures. 


Bertie Webb BMus (hons)



Bertie has performed in 100s of concerts since his debut at the age of 2, playing over 200 gigs in 2013 alone. These include performances for celebrities and royalty, playing cello for HRH Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Phillip as well as singing for HRH Price Charles.

Bertie studied cello at the Royal College of Music junior department under James Halsey and music (BMus hons) at The University of Huddersfield, studying conducting under award winning conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa and composition and performance under world renowned pianist Dr. Philip Thomas.

He has toured all over the UK and Europe, and has headlined some prestigious venues including; The NEC (Birmingham,) Aintree Racecourse and The Cavern Club (Liverpool,) as well as playing with some highly regarded ensembles including The Orchestra of The Swan as the soloist for their Snowman tour.

After university Bertie founded and ran his own record label and recording studio, started the world’s first ‘Bandeoke’ band and has taught 100s of pupils in and around the Shropshire area.Bertie offers instrumental lessons up to grade 8 in; guitar, voice, piano, violin, cello, bass guitar, drums, ukelele, double bass and music theory. He is a trained opera singer, studying under English National Opera's principal baritone Christopher Booth-Jones, and has performed in many musicals and stage productions, taking the lead roles in Oliver,

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Grease and Oklahoma.

At present Bertie teaches at Musicland (Market Drayton,) Adam's Grammar School & Castle House (Newport,) Thomas Adams (Wem,) Norton In Hales Primary School and of course here at The Academy for Performing Arts.

When Bertie is not teaching or gigging he works as a freelance recording artist/session musician/composer/producer and technician. He works with musicians from all over the world and is currently working on several studio albums.


Listen to some of Bertie’s music by checking out his website here. 


Jenny Berrisford

Jenny graduated from the university of salford in 2014 with a First class degree in Media and Performance since then she has been working as a freelance actress and film maker. Jenny recently finished a young film makers program making a short film with Channel Four and has worked as a runner and prodcution assistant for the BBC and ITV. Upon graduating her first job was working for ITV Surprise Surprise from this she was accepted into ITV Trainee Assistant Directors Talent Pool, where she worked on Emmerdale. Jenny has a huge passion for working with young people in film making and in early 2016 set up Scribble Box Productions, a film and theatre company working with children and young people making films and teaching film making. The company has worked with a number of companies and schools all over the UK delivering film making clubs and summer schools, most recently working for More Than English International Summer School, teaching english to students from all over the world through the use of filmmaking. Jenny currently works Freelance for the Ann Frank Charity as a film maker working in High Schools all across the North West creating anti-bullying and anti-hate films as well as this she is the Head of Film and TV at Pauline Quirk Academy for Performing Arts in Chester and continues to build Scribble Box as a successful business and create award winning films with young people. She strongly believes every young person should have the opportunity to learn how to bring their stories to life through performance and film be it acting or creating there own movie, telling stories through film ignites a young person imagination and gives them something they can keep forever. Working on Adventure of a Life time has been fantastic the students have been inspiring and amazing and very good film makers. 


Abbie Blurton



Miss Abbie fell in love with dance at the tender age of three when she joined her local dance school. She was involved in many Annual Shows, Pantomimes, Festivals and The English Youth Ballet productions in which she grew great success. Whilst growing up she has learnt a diverse amount of styles, such as Ballet, Tap, Modern, Contemporary, Commercial...the list goes on! 

As Miss Abbie’s passion grew she decided to embark on a career in the performing arts. She attended Expressions Performing Arts to achieve a diploma in professional Musical Theatre training. Upon graduating her 3 year intensive course, Miss Abbie has been involved in various professional contracts, just to list a few; Dance captain at Alvaston Hall Hotel (Warner Leisure resorts), Dancer onboard Regent Seven Seas Mariner (Norwegian Creative studios) and currently apart of Invincible Dance and Entertainment company. 

Miss Abbie loves to perform but she thoroughly enjoys being able to share her knowledge and pass on her teachings to inspire the amazing TAFPA family! 


Estelle Baddeley


Estelle has been dancing since the age of two and since embarking upon her dance training has achieved a Junior Associate place at SLP Dance College in Leeds and a Senior Jazz Scholarship with the British Ballet Organisation. Estelle trained at Jill Clewes Performing Arts Centre and completed a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts at Jill Clewes’ Academy for Theatre Arts, qualifying with Distinction*/Distinction*/Distinction. Estelle has also achieved high grades in all BBO and IDTA dance examinations in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Disco/Freestyle, Musical Theatre and Modern throughout her training and is continuing with the study of vocational grades in all disciplines and has recently taken her Advanced 2 Tap exam completing her BBO tap dance training. 


She began assisting with teaching dance classes in 2011 in a range of disciplines including ballet, tap and musical theatre. Since August 2016 Estelle has been teaching dance to children of all ages in performing arts schools, primary and nursery schools. As of January 2018, Estelle is a Level 4 qualified dance teacher with the British Ballet Organisation (BBO Dance).

Jack Hales

Jack's love for dance and the theatre started at the age of 3 when he attended his first  ballet and tap classes at a local dance school. Attending as many classes and styles as was possible on a weekly basis his love and passion began to grow.

During his early years of training Jack appeared in various dance performances at the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe including annual dance school shows, pantomimes and amateur dramatic musicals undertaking the role of Oliver twice. 
At the age of 10 whilst he furthered his training  at the Linda Cardwell Theatre School, Altrincham, Jack landed his first professional role of Toby in the UK Tour of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ alongside Brian Connelly at the Palace Theatre, Manchester.

,The next step on the journey at 13 was to gain a place at the Hammond School in Chester. He attended for 6 years in the lower and upper schools studying many vocational disaplines from Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Commercial, Musical Theatre, Singing and Acting. Upon his final graduate year at the Hammond Jack gained his level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre and Dance  Alongside this he also successfully attained certification as a fully qualified Michael King Pilates instructor.


Jack's passion and drive, after vocational training, led his career towards choreography and teaching having discovered a  love for teaching and passing on his knowledge and techniques to other dancers in and around the Cheshire area. He began his own business, as a perepatetic teacher, working at various schools in the area gaining experience and skills that were crucial in becoming the teacher he was aspiring to be. His work involved teaching  a broad age range of students from as young as 18 months right through to adults.He then went on to successfully gain his teaching Qualifications with the ISTD celebrated with a Graduation Ceremony at the Marriott hotel, London.One of the highlights of Jack’s teaching career to date was being asked to teach various styles of dance  and choreography to Strictly's AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt and dancing with the stars Curt Pritchard and his partner Emily. Going forward Jack is immensely excited for the next chapter in his career working with the students and faculty at The Academy for Performing Arts. He is hoping to inspire and assist  the students to continue to grow and develop in their training, passing on his enthusiasm and love that, from day one, has always been for performing Arts.