THE TAFPA TEAM
Performing Arts Teacher & Attire Manager
Performing Arts Teacher
Performing Arts Teacher & LAMDA specialist
Performing Arts Teacher
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.
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
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 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).
At age 11, Sian began her dancing career with the contemporary dance troupe ‘Ziggy’, a company of up to 25 young dancers, with which she had the opportunity to perform across the UK. At 18, she trained in Musical Theatre and Acting at The Academy for Theatre Arts, in conjunction with Newcastle-Under-Lyme College, where she completed a BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts; achieving the highest possible grade.
Sian has experience as both a performer and a director, having performed in productions locally, across the Midlands, Manchester and London, in both theatre and radio; as well as having directed two full scale plays with small casts of young people.
She took her first professional performance job in 2013 as a singer and actor in a small scale touring tribute show, since then she has appeared in various full-scale musicals, including; as Liesl in ‘The Sound of Music’ and Penny Pingleton in a semi-professional production of 'Hairspray'
Nicola started coaching gymnastics along side training as a teenager. She went on to study sports at college, this enhanced her knowledge of the body as well as learning about sports psychology and performance analysis.
With over 20 years of gymnastics coaching experience, she has worked within different gymnastics clubs across the UK. Working with children as young as 3 in preschool gymnastics right up to running adults classes. She has lead class from a basic recreational level as well as leading competitive squad groups to victory at a regional level. Nicola has spent many years teaching p.e within schools covering all sport not only gymnastics. She has also worked along side cheerleading and dance schools teaching their students tricks for routines. Before relocating back up north Nicola was a valued member of staff for Italia Conti Associates where she ran their acro program which included putting together performance pieces and supporting student with selecting suitable tricks for their audition pieces.
Ruby has been a student teacher at The Academy since September 2021 and enjoys teaching an array of genres including ballet, tap, modern, musical theatre and street dance from pre-primary level to grade 1. Ruby also attends her own classes at The Academy and is currently working towards her Grade 6 Modern, Intermediate Foundation and Grade 5 Ballet, President’s Award street dance and has recently completed the musical theatre stages after finishing stage 6. In 2019, Ruby received a grade 7 in her GCSE Dance which she sat with The Academy. She also takes lessons such as Progressing Ballet Technique and Intermediate Pointe to enhance her technique further. Ruby has performed in many shows with The Academy including their bi-annual show ‘STOP!WATCH!’ at The Crewe Lyceum Theatre in 2020 and The British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. Ruby always enjoys a challenge and finds joy in inventing innovative ways of learning via interactive methods such as games and storytelling. She is currently studying for her A-levels and intends to attend university to study Business with French. Ruby feels that The Academy has helped to shape the person she is today and she now aspires to help the future generation of Academy students grow and progress as she did.
Gracie currently takes lessons in PBT, Ballet (Grade 5 and Intermediate Foundation), Modern (Grade 6), Musical Theatre (Just finished Stage 6!), Street Commercial (Presidents’ Award) and Pointe where she has achieved the highest results in examinations, Gracie has also taken singing lessons for over 5 years, recently achieving a distinction in her Grade 8 Exam. Having adored musicals since she could understand words, Gracie loves to learn more about the contexts of musicals through her passion for history, politics and culture and share these interests with everyone she meets! Gracie has starred in many local productions for over 10 years such as earning the lead role of Julia in ‘The Wedding Singer’ in her first year of school, Miss Hannigan in ‘Annie’, Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’ and most recently will play the role of Sandy in her school’s production of Grease at the Crewe
Lyceum! Gracie loves to learn about performing arts at TAFPA, she believes they have played a huge role in making the person she is- her confidence, communication skills, commitment, conscientiousness and
so much more are because of the dedicated and supportive TAFPA family. With TAFPA, Gracie has had so many fantastic performance opportunities such as dancing in the West End’s Shaftesbury
Theatre, ‘O’ festivals at the Regent Theatre in Stoke and her personal favourite, performing at the British Grand Prix in 2019!
Having assisted in classes from the age of 12, now that Gracie has begun teaching classes herself, she aspires to share her passion for performing arts with her students!
Daisy has been a part of TAFPA for a little over 8 years now, having started dance lessons here when she was seven. She attends classes and has done exams in modern, street dance, ballet and tap and
has been a part of many of the shows that TAFPA has been involved in over the years. These include performances at The Shaftesbury Theatre on the West End, the 0’ Festivals at the Regent Theatre,
Hanley and the TAFPA shows at the Crewe Lyceum Theatre. She loves all things dance and drama and has performed in a number the pantomimes and musicals put on by the local amateur acting
group – BATS. She landed her first part as a rat in their production of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, going on to play the title role in Oliver in 2018. She is also a pupil at Madeley School where she is
currently head girl. In school, Daisy chose GCSE drama and has taken opportunities to dance in school concerts and assemblies performing in trios and duets. Daisy has also had experience in choreographing and leading others at school when she co-set up a dance club for year 7 students. Alongside another year 11 student, she led weekly sessions for the group for several months. Daisy really enjoys her role as a student teaching assistant on a Saturday – a position she started in
December 2020. Her favourite part of the job is seeing how the younger students grow in confidence week on week and develop their skills.
Eva started dancing with The Academy at the age of three and has been involved in many shows, events and performances with the school since 2010. Eva studies ballet, contemporary and musical theatre and she particularly enjoys street dance. Eva has performed in many shows with The Academy, including their 2017 show ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ and their 2020 show ‘STOP!WATCH!’, also ‘022 Dance’ at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent and ‘Scarefest’ at Alton Towers as well as numerous shows, dance conventions and performances as part of TAFPA’s Youth Dance Company. Eva has also achieved distinctions in her LAMDA Solo Musical Theatre examinations alongside multiple distinctions in recent dance examinations. She is also currently studying GCSE Dance and will take her exam next year. Eva takes great interest in reaching out to a wider audience via use of The Acdemy’s social media platforms, particularly TikTok. Eva finds joy in helping younger and and more advanced students to enhance their understanding of dance technique and performance skills and very much believes in having a connection with the classes she teaches. Her favourite dance quote that has inspired her and hopes will inspire her students is “practice like you’ve never won and perform like you’ve never lost”.
Neve's TAFPA dance training started at the age of 7 with Musical Theatre (Stage 5) and Street Dance (President's awards). Then, over the years, she started to join other classes such as ballet (Grade 5), tap (Grade 4), modern (Grade 5) and GCSE Dance. TAFPA is the place she met some of her closest friends and they’ve become her second family. Neve is delighted to say that she's taken part in all 3 TAFPA shows and the amount of dances she's taken part in has dramatically increased from 2-8 over time. She has been included in competitions, shows, auditions, trips, Academy Casting, Silverstone, Move It!, Can you dance? and Summer schools and has received distinctions in more exams than she can count! She is also apart of the Tafpa tech team, assisting with the creation and adaptation of the academy's two websites, also video and music editing.
Dance is very important to Neve and she looks forward to her classes every day of the week. Neve is very excited to now be a part of the TAFPA Staff, to help teach younger students to achieve their dreams in dance and maybe shape some new student teachers in the future.
Sofia started dancing with The Academy at the age of three and has extensive training in ballet (Grade 5 and Intermediate Foundation), tap (Grade 4), street dance (President’s Award), musical theatre (Stage 5), contemporary and modern (Grade 6). She has performed at many events/shows with TAFPA, her favourites including the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Shaftsbury Theatre in London’s West End, the ‘0’ festivals at the Regent Theatre, the Move It convention and, of course, all three of TAFPA’s bi-annual shows at The Crewe Lyceum. She has also taken many exams with the Academy and has received distinctions in every one; she looks forward to receiving her GCSE Dance result very soon! Being a part of The Academy has also provided Sofia with many opportunities including attending The Hammond school in Chester and successfully auditioning for a place as a drama student in the high school. During the two years Sofia attended The Hammond, she was involved in many professional productions including ‘Peter Pan’. She also took part in ISA drama competitions, playing Peter Pan in ‘Peter Pan’ and Roberta (Bobbie) in ‘The Railway Children’. Sofia is incredibly passionate about dance; she enjoys all genres and particularly likes a challenge! Her favourite thing about teaching younger students is helping others to fulfil their potential and inspire their passion as she has wanted to from a very young age!