Did you know that Ruddington boasts its very own ‘Fame’ school?
The rather understated purple doorway leading into Number 7, Charles Street, may not seem quite as salubrious as the famous ‘High School of Performing Arts’ in New York City did back in the ’80s. But Ruddington’s ‘Freedom Dance & Performance’ has always aimed big – and consequently has found perhaps rather more than its fair share of ‘Fame’ along the way!?
Principal Stacey Green is a fully qualified I.S.T.D teacher with years of experience both as a performer and choreographer. She launched ‘Freedom’ in our village in 2002 with the motto “Training tomorrow’s stars today”. Back then her new performing arts school had only ten students. It has now progressed to around 150 pupils ranging from 2 to 18 years’ old. Some of the kids do it just for fun, friendship and exercise – for others, their dream has become their career.
Stacey says: “I offer expert training in all genres of dance and performance, including ballet, tap, acrobatics, street dance, commercial, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre and drama. Students receive an all-round program that enables them to progress their training further at colleges around the country, should they wish to do so.”
Many of the youngsters come from Ruddington, but several students travel far and wide to be a part of the ‘Freedom Family’ experience – including Stapleford, Radcliffe, West Bridgford, Leicester and Derby. “The school prides its self on providing an all-inclusive environment regardless of race or gender, where pupils can express their creativity, build confidence and encompass all aspects of the performing arts” explains Stacey.
The school also has a competition team that regularly competes nationally and has seen some impressive results over the years – winning various accolades including representing England at the Dance World Cup in 2016 where they returned with two silvers and two bronze medals. This year the ‘Freedom’ competition team competed at the All England Dance Finals held at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe against some of the best dance schools in the country.
Stacey reveals: “There were 133 schools competing and the standard was outstanding. Our team came home with 3 silver medals and 2 bronze. This was a fantastic achievement for the school as it is incredibly hard to even make the finals.”
Students frequently secure places at some of the top performing arts colleges in the country, including Bird College (Sidcup), Bodyworks (Cambridge), Laine Theatre Arts (Epsom), Arts Educational (Epsom, London) and Performers College (Essex), amongst others.
Louis Gaunt, son of principal Stacey, has personally enjoyed huge success since being at the college. His credits so far include:
- BBC 1’s ‘Strictly Dance Fever’ as a backing dancer for acclaimed artist Laura Mvula
- BBC 2’s ‘The Big Bang Project’ with Arlene Phillips and Professor Brian Cox
- The ‘Dick Whittington’ Panto at the London Palladium alongside Diversity, Julian Clary, Elaine Paige and Nigel Havers.
- Will Parker in ‘Oklahoma’ at the prestigious Grange Park Opera House in Horsley – for which he was awarded ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ at the Stage Debut Awards in London.
- Appearing alongside John Barrowman in the opening performance of the 2019 ITV National Television Awards
Louis has also appeared in ‘Sweet Charity’ at Nottingham Playhouse and ‘Kiss Me Kate’ at The Crucible in Sheffield, played a lead role in the World Première of ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ (also at The Crucible) and is currently touring the UK in ‘Grease the Musical’ in the role of Kenickie alongside Peter Andre.
His mum and former teacher Stacey says: “This is an amazing achievement for a graduate – and a true testament to his hard work, talent and work ethic. The show has been a huge success and we are so proud of Louis who is flying the ‘Freedom Flag’ high.”
Next up, Louis will be playing the role of Tulsa in an acclaimed production of ‘Gypsy’ at the Manchester Royal Exchange from November 2019 through to February 2020!!
UPDATE 29th JANUARY 2020:
During his theatre run in Manchester, Louis paid homage to Hollywood great Gene Kelly with an amazing rendition of a tap dance routine from “Singin’ In The Rain”. Click >>HERE<< or on the image below to see it and to read more.
You can watch some of Ruddington’s latest young performers in action >>HERE<< and read a little more history about Ruddington’s very own stage school, including the famous ‘Freedom Dance Dads’ viral video, >>HERE<<.
Currently there are no further group classes being held due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. However, if you’d like more information about Freedom Dance & Performance, and get your son or daughter involved when reaching resumes, please visit their Facebook page, contact Stacey by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07548-151-919.