Ruth Armstrong FISTD – Head of Modern & Tap

Ruth Armstrong FISTD – Head of Modern & Tap

Various dance classes

Various dance classes

Ruth began her training at ‘The Pauline Howard School of Dance’ under the guidance of the late Pat Ellis and Pauline Howard. She continued to further her studies at ‘Laine Theatre Arts’ and graduated with ISTD Associates in Modern, Ballet and Tap and LTA Musical Theatre Diploma.

Following her training Ruth spent several years working as a freelance teacher and choreographer whilst returning to teach alongside Miss Pat. In1999 Ruth joined the Dance Faculty at ‘Tring Park School for the Performing Arts’ (formerly Arts Ed Tring) where she taught Jazz, Modern and Tap and was a regular choreographer for Junior and Senior Dance Productions. In addition she was instrumental in devising new work for Tring Park’s Outreach programme which encourages the access to dance in Primary Schools in Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. She now teaches at Urdang Academy and Bird College, and is the Head of Modern & Tap at Gielgud Academy.

In 2005 Ruth attained ISTD Fellowship status and was invited to become a Dual Examiner for the Modern and Tap faculties. She is a regular guest teacher at several events including ‘Move IT’ and the ISTD ‘Janet Cram’ Modern Awards and lectures for both faculties at UK and International Courses. More recently Ruth was invited to join the Modern faculty creative team and she has been proud to have recently created optional Amalgamations for the Bronze, Silver and Gold ISTD Jazz syllabi, and the new Intermediate Tap syllabus.

Ruth was delighted to see The Pauline Howard School pupils merge into The Gielgud Academy allowing Miss Pat’s legacy to live on.

Dr Ross McKim MA PHD – Contemporary Advisor

Dr Ross McKim MA PHD – Contemporary Advisor

Dr Ross McKim trained in Vancouver, then at at the Royal Ballet Upper School in London after which he was accepted into the Royal Danish Ballet Company at the young age of only 17. After the Royal Danish Ballet, he worked with the National Ballet of Canada as well as studying ballet and contemporary dance and choreography in Toronto and New York, focusing on the Martha Graham technique. At age 21, he returned to London and joined the London Contemporary Dance Theatre at the Place under the tutelage and directorship of Robert Cohan CBE, where he danced, taught and choreographed for 5 years. A critic from the Birmingham Post declared that he was “possibly the most beautiful dancer in Britain”. In 1976, McKim founded his own company, Moving Visions Dance Theatre and in 1982 he founded the Chamber Dance Theatre of Vancouver.

Most notably, in 1995 Ross was appointed the Artistic Director of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. A post which he held with great respect for the next thirty years. His extensive knowledge of different ballet and contemporary techniques lead him to create his own unique way of moving. His contemporary classes and choreography have trained and inspired generations of professional performers from across the globe.

Ross received an MA in Dance Studies from the University of Surrey in 1990 and a PhD in Theology from Durham University only 10 years later. He has also had two books about contemporary dance published. In 2016 Ross and his legacy of contemporary dance was the subject of a feature length documentary called ‘The Gospel of Ross McKim’ which premiered at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival London and won ‘Best Feature Documentary’ and ‘Best Female Filmmaker’ for Suzanne Gielgud at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards 2016. It was also nominated for the Jury prize at the NICE International Film Festival 2017.

Dr Ross was delighted to share his legacy and profound knowledge of contemporary dance technique to GAPA’s young dancers through the development of a new contemporary dance syllabus for the ISTD. From 2017-2018 he workshopped the format and creation of the new work on GAPA pupils age 11-18, and at the 2017springboard event in London they demonstrated the work to the ISTD.

Verity Penn LISTD

Verity Penn LISTD

Verity started training at a young age and studied a variety of styles. She became an Associate with the Urdang Academy at the age of 14 and continued to train there full time, graduating in 2010 with a National Diploma in Professional Dance.

Verity performed with ‘Co_Motion’ a contemporary/ballet company for 2 years and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Alongside the performing work, Verity studied at Italia Conti Arts Centre, gaining her ISTD teaching qualifications in Ballet, Tap and Modern. More recently, Verity has furthered her teacher training and now holds Licentiate qualifications in both Modern and Tap.

Verity has taught at a number of dance schools, including Italia Conti and Urdang Academy, and is now delighted to be working at Gielgud. She hopes to pass on her knowledge and passion for dance to all the students, as well as developing their theatrical technique and vocabulary.

Laura Veazey AISTD DDI

Laura Veazey AISTD DDI

laura veazeyLaura Veazey trained at Tring Park School of Performing Arts from 2002-2011. During her training at Tring she performed in over ten Tring Park productions and she also performed with NYB (National Youth Ballet) at many venues including Sadlers Wells, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Birmingham Hippodrome. The ballets she performed in include Alice in Wonderland (choreographed by Wayne Sleep), The Old Man of Loch Nagar (written by the Prince of the Wales and choreographed by Drew McConie) and The Four Seasons by Frank Freeman.

After graduating from Tring Park Laura worked as an intern at English National Ballet Company and then joined Gielgud Management as an agency assistant in 2011 and Gielgud Academy as both office administrator and teaching assistant. Laura has also been training at Chichester College since 2013 on the ISTD teacher training course doing the DDI (Diploma in Dance Instruction) in Ballet and Modern and was successfully awarded the qualification in 2014.

Photograph by Suzanne Gielgud

Francesca Leyland AISTD DDI

Francesca Leyland AISTD DDI

Francesca originates the Shetland Islands.  She trained at the Dance School of Scotland in Glasgow
and the Arts Educational School in London. Francesca gained a place in the 25th Anniversary cast of
Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre London and was also part of the anniversary performance at
the 02 screened live in cinemas worldwide and released on DVD.   She also recorded vocals for the
Les Mis movie.  Francesca played Simone in The Baker's wife at the Union Theatre in London before
taking on her first role with Jordan Productions in Robin Hood in Eastbourne in 2011 and has worked
for the company as principal girl for 7 years now, choreographing 3 productions. Francesca has also
been part of various workshops and cast recordings including Once apon a time at the Adelphi and
the Original London Cast Recording of One Touch of Venus. Recent credits include Alice in
Wonderland at the Gordon Craig Theatre and The Fix at the Union Theatre in London. When
Francesca is not performing she is a very busy dance teacher teaching all over Sussex, she is a
qualified ISTD ballet teacher and also directs and choreographs many school productions.