The Colchester School of Dance originated in the late 1970’s as the Colchester branch of the ‘Ivy Baker Dance Schools’ and was run by various teachers under the guidance of Ivy Baker who was a leading pioneer in the training of students in the Imperial Society and Royal Academy dance syllabus.
In 1989 the Colchester branch was taken over by Mrs Amanda Higbee who founded ‘The Colchester School of Dance’. Classes in Ballet, Tap and Modern were based in the Philip Morant Secondary School and Miss Amanda spent the next 15 years guiding students through examinations, shows and festivals, giving students the opportunity to appear at her majesties theatre in London on several occasions.
In 2004 Miss Amanda retired and the role of Principal was taken on by Miss Jane Hansford, a former professional dancer and I.S.T.D. teacher. Two years later the school moved into a professionally built studio within Stanway Secondary School and in 2007 a new branch opened in Earls Colne to accommodate what is now over 200 students.
The school offers training in the core subjects of Ballet, Tap and Modern and places high emphasis on the correct training of students thus allowing them to enter for I.S.T.D. examinations at both graded and vocational level. Alongside these subjects, the school offers training in Commercial Jazz, Body Conditioning, Musical Theatre and Acrobatic Arts giving a fully rounded performance education in order to prepare students for full time dance college.
Many former students have achieved places at various colleges in this country. These include, Urdang, Bird, London Studio Centre, Laines, Italia Conti, MAAD, Rambert and Performers. Many of them are now working as professional dancers and teachers within the industry.
We offer I.S.T.D. examinations each year from Primary up to Advanced level and a large scale production every other year at the Charter Hall in Colchester.
We offer the I.S.T.D. syllabus which starts with a general introduction to ballet for preschool. Examinations are then held for children from Primary to Grade 6 and vocational level Intermediate. Ballet is essential training for any student who wishes to pursue a career in dance.
Tap dance is one of the most enjoyable and rhythmical forms of recreational dance and a useful skill for the professional dancer and teacher. Again we offer the I.S.T.D syllabus which has recently undergone extensive modernisation incorporating American methods whilst still retaining some of the classic styles. Classes start with an introduction to basic tap movements in pre school classes all the way up to Advanced level. We also offer mixed ability adult tap classes.
Modern theatre dance is a rhythmic style which is often seen on the stages of musical productions and is known for its theatrical qualities. The style uses travelling steps, high kicks, leaps and turns and assists with strength and flexibility. The basis for the ever changing fashions in dance including contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical, cabaret and many more. The I.S.T.D syllabus is offered from Grade 1 to Advanced Level.
Acro combines many classical dance elements with a physical conditioning similar to gymnastics that allows a dancer to undertake complex acrobatic movements. Starting with basic core strengthening, flexibility, Limbering and tumbling. We offer the Acrobatic Arts syllabus.
Commercial dance incorporates a wide variety of styles from many other dance disciplines such as Jazz, Street, Modern and Hip Hop. This gives the dancers freedom of expression and style when performing. The choreography for commercial dance is typically used for concerts, music videos, television shows & films.
A freestyle class aimed at helping ballet and modern students in strength and flexibility including limbering and pilates style exercises for core strength. Classes include mat work and the use of therabands to aid movement.
A combination of singing, acting and dance and a great way for children to build confidence. We run a course each term working on a different medley from popular musicals which is then performed to parents at the end of each term. We offer Junior Musical theatre classes on a Saturday for children age 6-13 yrs and Senior Musical Thatre classes on a Thursday for age 14+.
A former Professional dancer and teacher for 20 years Jane initially trained at the Hildale Academy of Performing Arts in the I.S.T.D. syllabus before pursuing a performing career across the U.K in national pantomime and regional Holiday centres. This was followed by 4 years of extensively touring throughout Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.
In 2000 Jane continued her teacher training at the Liz Burville Dance Centre completing her I.S.T.D qualifications in Ballet, Tap and Modern with additional qualifications in Fitness and personal training. During this time Jane taught Modern and Tap at the Dance Company Studios in Kent and was head of Dance for Youngstarz Dance Academy in Loughton. Jane took on the position of Principal at CSOD in 2004.
Lissy is a former student of the school having trained to Advanced Level in I.S.T.D. Tap and Modern and Vocational Level in Ballet. She holds a degree from the University of Essex and is currently studying for the DDE in Modern and Tap. She is a qualified teacher of Acrobatic Arts. Lissy currently teaches for Sudbury Theatre Train, The Fox Academy of Dance and Thorrington Dance Academy. She also runs the CSOD Dance club at St John the Baptist Primary School in Pebmarsh.
Her Performing credits include Disneyland Paris, New York and the Royal Albert Hall as well as local productions for the Colchester Operatic Society and Mercury Theatre Pantomine.
Sarah is a former student of the school having trained to Advance Level in I.S.T.D Tap and Modern and Intermediate Level in Ballet. Sarah holds a degree in Musical Theatre and a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Essex. She is currently a Lecturer in Dance at Colchester Institute whilst also teaching for Theatricool Performing Arts School and the Step into Dance Programme run by the Royal Academy of Dance. Sarah is a competitive cheerleader and coaches for CC All Stars as well as being the Dance Coach for Essex Flames and Storm Elite Competitive Cheerleading. She has performed in many of the Mercury Theatres Professional Pantomimes and has been heavily involved with Colchester Operatic Society productions. Sarah was also a member of Tap Attack in 2015.
Shannon is a former student of the school having trained to Advanced level in Ballet and Modern and Intermediate level in Tap Dance. Shannon gained her I.S.T.D teaching qualifications in Classical Ballet and Modern at the start of 2022, and she is currently training in Advanced 2 Ballet. She also holds a BA (Hons) Photography degree from Norwich University of the Arts and runs her own photography business.
Alice is a former student of the school having trained to intermediate levels in tap, modern & ballet. As a 2021 graduate from Italia Conti, Alice holds a first class degree in Musical Theatre and is currently auditioning & working in the industry. She currently facilitates workshops for the Headgate Theatre and teaches dance & LAMDA lessons to students at Holmwood House School. She also works as an actor at Wyvernwood, as well as a party entertainer for Captain Fantastic.
Jo has been involved with CSOD since 2003 with both her daughters having trained at the school. Jo worked as a show chaperone for many years before taking on the role of Costume supervisor in 2014. For the past few years her role increased as she came on board to assist Miss Jane with running the office and is now fully responsible for all school administration and uniform.