As you drive along Green Lanes past this building do you ever wonder what does on behind these closed doors?
This year the Dance Studio is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since the dance school was first opened by Loraine Grayson in 1983, thousands of little girls and some boys have donned their ballet shoes and taps shoes for weekly lessons. For most it is a pleasant diversion, which they drop before they reach their teens, but some have gone on to make a career in dance and stage.
The Dance Studio began life in a room above the Dragon Garden, now Red Bamboo, which had a tiny reception area where mums could wait. Just over a decade later, in 1995, Loraine took the bold step of taking over the semi-derelict building a few yards down the road to expand the dance school, which had long waiting lists for classes. The building now houses a maze of studios, practice rooms and other facilites and gave Loraine the space to fulfil her next ambition, to train young people wanting to make a career on the stage, opening the North London Dance Studio in the same year. It is an excellent use of space and resourdes, with most of the college teaching taking place in the week, whilst the younger children have classes later in the afternoon and at the weekend.
NDLS is now a small but thriving performance arts college, teaching every dance genre, from hiphop to musical theatre, as well as Diplomas in Dance Instruction (DDI) and Dance Education (DDE), for people who want to go into teaching dance; attracting students from across London and as far away as Nottingham.
Loraine relinquished control of NLDS in 2009 to a new Principal Bee Erceri and a management team which includes former pupils Keeley Malone and Tanya Chrysanthou, who have returned to the College after careers on the stage. The young team are keen to grow the College, without losing its small, almost family feel. The biggest challenge the college faces is attracting students who can afford to invest in training in the current economic climate, in a sector where it is extremely competitive, with uncertain career prospects. The College is able to offer a small number of bursaries and it is hoped to develop more commercial links in the future, to enable them to offer financial support to more pupils.
However, being smaller than many other dance colleges, NLDS is able to offer more individual and small group teaching. Its London links are important both to the College teaching and in helping its students to secure roles. The College regularly has top performers and chorographers from West End Productions working with students; including production members of Sister Act, Legally Blonde, Les Miserables, Bombay Dreams, Ghost, Wicked, Shoes, Chicago, Starlight Express, We will Rock You, 42nd Street, Saturday Night Fever, Zorro, Love Never Dies, Jerry Springer and Thriller.
Recognise these names? Some of their other guest teachers have danced for Alexandra Burke, Blue, Boyzone, Girls Aloud, JLS, Jessie J, Kylie, Leona Lewis, McFly, Olly Murs, Peter Andre, Pixie Lott, Robbie Williams, Spice Girls, SugaBabes, Taio Cruise, Take That, The Saturdays, X-Factor, So you think you can Dance, Britannia High.
Quite a brag list - so keep your eyes pealed when you are passing, you never know who might be inside!