Teachers & Faculty
Classes are taught by a variety of experienced, talented and energetic teachers. All members of staff hold an Enhanced DBS Certificate.
Catharine Lewis - Principal
LCDD (1st Class) RAD RTS (Teaching Certificate), AISTD (Dip) Modern, AISTD Ceccetti, ISTD Ballet & National
Head of Ballet & Examinations
Catharine Lewis fell in love with dance at the Susan Robinson School of Ballet. She danced at Sadler’s Wells in Miss Sue’s very first All England-winning group and went on to the London College of Dance, graduating with a first class diploma, with advanced certificates in ballet, modern and national dance. After teaching dance in Greece for two years, she returned to her roots and has played a key role in the school’s success ever since, working closely with Miss Sue to prepare generations of dancers for exams, shows, competitions and even professional careers. When the Royal Academy of Dance launched its brand new syllabuses in 2011 and 2013, more than a dozen students from the Susan Robinson School were called in to star in the RAD’s new Grade 1-5 DVDs. Miss Cathy worked on the project for several years under RAD artistic director Lynn Wallis, rehearsing the youngsters to demonstrate the new syllabus and preparing them for filming. Miss Cathy also rehearsed our students for the RAD’s Grade 1-3 character syllabus DVDs.
Jade Souter - Principal
RAD RTS (Teaching Certificate) PBT Certified,
First Aider in Dance
Head of Festival & Show Choreography
Jade Souter started her ballet training with Miss Sue when she was just three years old. She completed all her Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams, including Advanced 1, as well as the ISTD modern and tap exams up to advanced level. She competed successfully at several All England Dance Finals and went on to dance in many important shows and charity events. Miss Jade began teaching fifteen years ago and gained the RAD’s Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies alongside 3 A-levels, including Performing Arts. Many pupils she has coached have achieved exceptional exam results and had the honour of dancing with some of the world’s greatest companies, including the Bolshoi, the Mariinsky and the Northern Ballet. Several have gone on to enjoy professional careers in ballet and musical theatre. Miss Jade is also a highly skilled choreographer, with a vast knowledge of the classical and modern repertoire, from Petipa and Balanchine to Frederick Ashton and Matthew Bourne, and has created fresh and imaginative choreography for many competitions and festivals.
Lara Lucano - Principal
ARAD, RAD RTS (Teaching Certificate) PBT Certified
First Aider in Dance
Head of Younger Years and Assistant Festival & Show Choreographer
Lara Lucano is an exceptional dancer and teacher who began her training with the Susan Robinson School of Ballet at the age of four, studying ballet, tap, modern and jazz. At ten, she won the south east final of the RAD Fonteyn Nureyev Young Dancers Competition and was invited to dance with the Bolshoi at the Royal Opera House and to perform with the Northern Ballet. The following year, she was back with the Bolshoi again, in La Bayadère at the Coliseum. Miss Lara has danced successfully at many major festivals and competitions. At the All England Dance Finals in 2011, she was runner-up in the Young Dancer of the Year awards. Miss Lara gained her RAD Advanced 2 Ballet with Distinction and was awarded a scholarship to London’s Millennium Performing Arts, where she won the Best All Round Performer and jazz awards and was chosen as dance captain/assistant choreographer for DK's production of Cinderella. She also holds the RAD's Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies and is a certified teacher in Progressing Ballet Technique.
Gretchen Kiefer - Ballet teacher
BBO Diploma in Dance Teaching and Level 5 Certificate in Further Education Teaching (distinction), MRAD
Gretchen Kiefer has decades of high-level experience of dancing, choreography teaching on both sides of the Atlantic. She has been coaching our vocational grades and senior ballet classes for more than 25 years. As a professional dancer, she was one of the founder members of the Island Moving Company in Newport Rhode Island. She was involved in many tours, performances and outreach programmes with the Island Moving Company and also performed with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and several Colorado ballet companies. She has taught dance at the Newport Academy of Ballet and the University of Northern Colorado and she also teaches adult classes for Woking Dance Space. Miss Gretchen has devised choreography for the Island Moving Company, the Little Theater of the Rockies and the University of Northern Colorado.
Nicola Bacon - Modern, Tap & Jazz teacher & choreographer
As a child, Nicola Bacon won both the ISTD senior tap award and the ISTD senior ballet musicality prize and was runner-up for the ISTD senior Janet Cram modern award. She was also a regular All England finalist. Her professional dance career included work on TV specials for Benny Hill and Jim Davidson and she performed in Ziegfeld at the London Palladium, in Cabaret and in many summer shows and pantomimes. She has choreographed pantomimes for the Epsom Playhouse and Brighton’s Theatre Royal and taught at the Guildford School of Acting, Italia Conti, Mountview Theatre School and the Arnould School. Miss Nicky was the owner and principal of the Ripley Dance Academy from 1990 to 2006, achieving great success over the years with students reaching many All England finals.
Amanda Lee Gardener - Musical Theatre teacher
Amanda Lee Gardener began dancing aged three, when she travelled to Byfleet to attend Miss Sue's ballet classes. She has always loved musical theatre and has played leading roles in Calamity Jane and a professional touring production of Annie. Miss Amanda won a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts for the most promising musical theatre student and went on to perform professionally in the UK and overseas. Brushes with TV included making the final 50 of ITV's first-ever reality show, Popstars, and appearing on Who Dares, Sings! with Ben Shepherd and Denise van Outen. After settling back in Portsmouth to start a family, she studied for her ISTD teaching qualification. Miss Amanda has also taught at Bedales and Dunhurst schools and Petersfield Academy and is a founder of Portsmouth’s ALG Theatre Arts.
Jade Cawthraw - Ballet, Modern & Tap teacher
Jade Cawthraw trained with Miss Sue from the age of three until she was 16. Whilst she was there she had the opportunity to perform with the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky at the Royal Opera House and with the Northern Ballet. After completing her RAD Advanced 2 Ballet at Miss Sue’s, receiving a distinction, she earned a place at the School of Ballet Theatre UK, where she gained an upper second BA in Ballet Performance from the University of West London. In her final year, she toured with the BTUK company as a soloist in The Sleeping Beauty. Having completed her degree, she continued her training on the pre-professional training programme at Ballet Cymru, where she went on tour with the company and performed in Romeo and Juliet.
Cathy Stephens - Advanced Modern teacher
After graduating from Bird College, Cathy Stephens danced and choreographed extensively, working in the West End and in television, cabaret, pantomime and fashion shows. She has taught at many vocational schools, including Bird College, The Centre PAC and Elmhurst Ballet School, and ran her own theatre school in Surrey for 22 years. She is a senior examiner for the ISTD’s Modern Theatre and Tap faculties and was a respected member of the Modern Theatre Committee for 13 years. She still works closely with Jackie Barnes and the team on Modern Theatre events. She is also a partner in DanceTeachersInc, an ISTD-approved dance centre which exists to train both new and experienced teachers to develop their skills and make progress in their teaching careers from DDE to Fellowship.
Emily Francis - Ballet
Pelita Lucano - School administrator
email: [email protected] mobile: 07397 170899
Debbie Souter - Festival and show coordinator
email: [email protected] mobile: 07531 782234
Edwina Farrow - Wardrobe mistress
email: [email protected]
Please find a list of our registered chaperones here.