Debbie Elwell – Managing Director
Debbie has been singing and dancing from the age of 4, becoming a ballet student with her local dance school at an early age. At the age of 7 Debbie enrolled in the Italia Conti Associate School, studying ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre, singing and drama. She was lucky enough to get an early ‘break’ and was invited into the agency and was selected to work on the film ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.
At 16 Debbie began a 3 year professional course at Reynolds Performing Arts Academy, specializing in Dance, Singing and Drama. It was here she gained her NVQ level 3 Arts Development and teaching qualification. Whilst studying at Reynolds Debbie was given the opportunity to perform in her first professional job as a dancer in a James Bond Spectacular tour. After being with the company for just 6 weeks she was asked to re-choreograph the show for the rest of the tour. Since leaving in 2003 Debbie has performed in Cyprus, Lanzarote, Spain and Turkey as lead vocalist and dance captain in several different west end style shows, various pantomimes and musicals as lead girl, And taught for some of the most prestigious theatre schools in the UK.
After founding Harlequins in 2009 Debbie expanded her teaching credentials by taking her professional IDTA freestyle exam and achieving top marks. Whilst running Harlequins Debbie has still remained in the industry working as choreographer and dancer for Voce an Italian music channel, choreographing local shows and performing around the UK in her own cabaret ‘The Cover Girlz’.
As part of Debbie’s role at Harlequins, she trains talented and driven potential teachers to become dance teachers, and has a 100% pass rate. She also works closely with creatives in the industry to make sure Harlequins stays fresh and exciting for all of the pupils.
Zoe Carver – Director of After School Activities
Since the age of 4 Zoe has been performing, attending the BLA theatre school where she studied all aspects of dance and musical theatre. Zoe passed her dance GCSE with a grade A and knew performing arts was not only her passion, but also a path she wanted to pursue as a career. At 16 Zoe went on to Reynolds Performing Arts Academy and graduated from a 3 year course, obtaining a Diploma in Dance, and an NVQ Level 3 Arts Development and Teaching qualification, which helped in starting off her teaching career. At the age of 18 Zoe left college and landed her first professional job in Cyprus as part of the production team, starring in various West End themed shows, This is where she first worked as a children’s entertainer, entertaining for the kids clubs and discos. Zoe toured Lanzarote and Turkey as lead dancer, and stared as Hansel in the pantomime Hansel and Gretel.
In 2006 Zoe started teaching all ages – ballet, tap, modern, street dance, singing and drama. She took her associate in freestyle dance with the International Dance Teachers Association to further her teaching credits. Zoe now loves her role as head of dance for Harlequins, choreographing all of the shows and dance exams. She also runs the after school clubs, liaising with head teachers, dance teachers and school/club representatives to make Harlequins the best it can be.
Zoe is thrilled to say, all of her pupils that have been entered have passed their dance and musical theatre exams, most achieving the highest marks, she strives to keep this record.
Ellen Spinks – Franchise Manager Sydenham
Ellen first started to dance at the age 5 at Audrey’s school of Dance and Drama. Ellen studied ballet, tap and disco and took BATD grade 1 in these three styles. After a year Ellen also began to study drama and went on to take BATD grade 2 in tap, ballet, disco and drama, as well as BATD Olympic bronze in tap. Once in secondary school Ellen took part in many dance shows and after school dance clubs. This is where she really developed her love to dance and chose dance as one of her GCSE subjects, which she passed with a grade A. Ellen was also honored as her choreography was chosen to represent the school at the 2009 Bromley Secondary Schools’ Dance Festival at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
Whilst studying GCSE dance Ellen was also able to go on a trip to New York and take various workshops with a company called Steps on Broadway. After her GCSE’s Ellen went on to study A level Dance for 2 years, learning techniques such as Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Ellen was also chosen to attend The Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company and took part in physical theatre workshops. With the help of Debbie and Zoe, Ellen took her Associate in Freestyle with the International Dance Teachers Association in 2013 and passed with the highest grade.
Casey – Dance Teacher
Casey started dancing at the age of 2 in local ballet classes. At the age of 8 she performed in her first Pantomine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre, after the pantomine ended she went on to become part of Debbie Fyffe Theatre school where she remained until she was 18 years old, during this time she successfully completed all exams up to advance level and performed as a babe for eight years in pantomines; Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington, Snow White and also played a role in The King and I.
As a child performer Casey gained experience in film work and several CBBC shows. Casey also gained her drama LAMDA exams up to Gold. After leaving Debbie Fyffe Theatre School Casey earned a place at London Theatre School where she continued her dance training on a Musical theatre and commercial course also, successfully gaining her teaching qualifications. Whilst at college Casey found herself back at panto during the Christmas period this time as a professional lead dancer for UK PRODUCTIONS. Leaving college Casey performed for Carlotta Actis Barone at London Fashion Week as a Ballet dancer, she then went on gaining experience in the performance industry from all angles, modelling, acting and dancing. Achieving featured roles in TV shows such as; Eastenders, Holby City, Johnathan Creek, New tricks and a Schweppes advert to name a few. Casey is also part of a dance act called The Roxides, having completed a UK tour.
Georgina Chew - Dance and Drama Teacher
Georgina has been dancing since the age of 2 and a half where she started out doing ISTD ballet, tap and modern. As Georgina got older she broadened her style of dance to include, street jazz, contemporary and pointe work as well as attending a stage coach each week for drama.This lead her to have the opportunity to perform in her local pantomime, perform and compete at theatres all over such as the Royal Albert Hall and even secured her the lead role in her schools performance of Swan Lake as Odette the black swan.
Georgina continued her studies of dance and performing arts at A-level where she studied the likes of Martha Graham and Shakespeare achieving an A at the end of her two years. After school Georgina auditioned for some of the most prestigious dance colleges in London such as Laines, Urdang and Bird securing a place at all of them; however decided to go and explore the world travelling instead.
In 2014 Georgina left to go to Japan to be a dancer/ choreographer in the family resort of Club Med Hokkaido. In Japan Georgina partook in a variety of different shows each night where she also was in charge of choreographing group and solo dances for a variety of different people including those who had never danced before. From Japan Georgina realised her love for teaching and decided to take her ISTD teacher training in ballet, modern and tap. Georgina has recently qualified as a modern teacher and is continuing her studies in ballet and tap. Georgina has a passion for teaching and wishes to inspire young dancers and performers to follow their dreams.
Simon Elwell - Drama Teacher
After completing 3 years training in Acting and Musical Theatre at - Hertfordshire Theatre School, Simon went on to perform in Plays/Musicals/Films all over the UK, Europe and parts of America. Simon was a lead member of the original Off Broadway cast of 'The Rippers 5' - A musical about Jack the Ripper. He also toured Europe as Mr Badger in 'The Wind In The Willows' and has performed at The Royal Shakespeare Company. Simon is also one half of one of the countries highest ranking tributes to the Blues Brothers (The Renegade Blues Brothers) and performs on a regular basis.
He also teaches LAMDA acting exams, and has a 100% pass record with students often achieving the highest marks. Simon has a great passion for acting, singing & the theatre and loves helping those who want to enjoy it as much as he does.
Melanie Jayne Varney - Dance and Drama Teacher
Melanie Jayne Varney began dancing at the age of three years old, after many years of attending different stage schools her family soon realised she was destined for a career as a Performer. Melanie then went into full time dance training at Miskin Theatre at the age of sixteen. She carried out a National Diploma in Performing Arts and completed this in 2012 in which she was awarded a triple grade distinction. This then lead onto working for Bourne Leisure, Haven at the UKs largest holiday park Devon Cliffs where she took on the role of dance captain amongst the show team. Shortly after, Melanie worked in India for 6 moths where she was a featured dancer in Bollywood Music Videos, Films, TV Commercials and Live shows. Whilst in India she also had the chance to cheerlead for the Indian Premier League Cricket where she was touring Dubai and India cheerleading for Chennai Super Kings. For the last couple of years Melanie has been lucky enough to travel the world on P&O Cruises as lead dancer for Headliners Theatre Company. Here she was a part of west end equivalent productions and performed in a variety of shows.
Since returning off the ships Melanie has began to choreograph for many different productions and a Bollywood piece of hers was featured at The Dorchester One World Festival this summer. Melanie is currently still performing when she can between teaching and is a part of Forever Jackson, the UKs number one Michael Jackson Tribute Show touring across the UK. Her passion for music and dance keeps her performing and has said there is no better feeling than when she is on stage and hopes to give lot’s of young performers in the making a chance to experience this.
Melanie has said that she is delighted to now be teaching at Harlequins Theatre School and feels very privileged to have this opportunity to work with such a talented group of children.
Natalie Scrutton - Dance and Musical Theatre Teacher
Natalie has grown up performing her whole life, landing on stage at the London Palladium by the age of 6. By the age of 7, she was crowned the Under 8 Northern Disco Champion and All Ireland Disco Champion. Natalie then went on to learn other dance styles such as ballet, tap, modern and jazz at Chiltern Dance School in Liverpool. She performed in Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty with the Liverpool Proscenium Youth Ballet Company. Natalie also performed in many pantomimes across Liverpool and New Brighton as a young ensemble member.
In school, Natalie received an A* in GCSE Dance and also achieved 100% in her GCSE Drama examination and was in the top 10 in the country that year. She also achieved an A* in A Level Dance and A Level Theatre Studies. Natalie continued to perform in professional pantomimes as an ensemble member between the ages of 16 and 18 before gaining a place at the prestigious Bird College in Kent where she studied ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, commercial, musical theatre, singing and acting. During her time at Bird she performed in 42nd Street, Anything Goes and Thoroughly Modern Millie. She graduated with a level 6 Nation Diploma in Dance and Theatre Performance in July 2014. After graduating, Natalie completed an 8 month contract in Disneyland Paris as a character and parade dancer.
Natalie began teaching in between all of her performing jobs. Now as a full time teacher at Harlequins she is looking forward to helping all of the children shine.