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.
Cate Benioff - Musical Theatre Teacher
Cate hails from Golden, Colorado and has been teaching for Harlequins for the past year. She trained at Laine Theatre Arts where she gained a Level 6 Trinity Diploma in Musical Theatre as well as a training at Guildford School of Acting where she received a BA in Theatre.
Cate has been teaching performing arts to children for over six years and loves helping them to develop technique and artistry as well as life skills and confidence.
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.
Tom Ramsay - Drama Teacher
Tom has performed and directed from an early age. He is a three-time alumni of the National Youth Music Theatre, and is featured on two original cast recordings, including as a featured soloist in the U.K. Theatre Award winning musical “Brass”.
In 2017 he graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a First Class BA(Hons) in Musical Theatre. Since graduating he has appeared at The Other Palace, The Battersea Barge and in the original cast of Sherlock - The Musical. As a director his credits include original productions of Superhero: The Musical (later produced by NYMT) and Overcoming Statistics, a verbatim musical.
He is a founding member and director of theatre company Aktualise, which produces original works in South East London. Tom is very excited to be working with all the kids at Harlequins - passing on his passion and enthusiasm of theatre to a new generation.
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.
Chahna Windross - Dance Teacher
Since the age of 5, Chahna has performed across the whole of the UK as well as taking part in Disco Freestyle, Rock'n'Roll (DFR) competitions. As a result of this, she qualified for the Grand National Finals in Guildford for 9 consecutive years coming 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th throughout. Chahna attended Grovers Dance Centre in Beckenham and then went on to learn other dance styles such as ballet, jazz, modern, ballroom and latin at Fairhall Dance and Bright Sparks Performing Arts. She performed in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, A Night at the Musicals, Aladdin, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more shows across London.
In 2011, Chahna attended the BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology, where she furthered her studies in ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre and physical theatre. Graduating in 2015 with a Distinction* in BTEC Level 2 First Diploma in Performing Arts (DANCE) and a Triple Distinction* in BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts (DANCE), Chahna has gone on to perform in numerous shows in Sadlers Wells and the Dance World Cup in the Brighton Dome.
Chahna began her journey with Harlequins Theatre School in 2014 and loves seeing the children progress under her care and nurturing.