Whittaker Dance and Drama Centre A step in the right direction...

Our Next Foundation Day - 26th June 2016

Shannon Staveley, Aged 18



My first dance lesson at Whittakers was pre-primary ballet with Miss Whittaker teaching, Mr Ganley playing the piano and my best friend Amy Tickle standing by my side. We were both three years old and just excited about being together, learning our "tidy toes". Little did I realise that Whittakers would very quickly become a major part of my life, providing me with some amazing opportunities and enabling me to meet some wonderful people.


I soon wanted to learn how to tap dance as I loved the noises the shoes made and was eager to practise all around the house, at every opportunity. I then took up French lessons with Miss Ganley, I joined the Terra Nova choir with Miss J, and began modern, Jazz, Irish and street dance. Before long I was taking classes most evenings at Whittaker's.

I have had many opportunities to perform with Whittaker's over the years and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. I have taken part in many shows at the Grand Theatre, attended many master classes and also been chosen to participate in other productions. I have taken many examinations through Whittaker's and each one I have been entered with Amy Tickle, Laura Smith and Anna Hood. These three girls are like sisters to me and still are to this date. All the excitement of being back stage together, the nerves of making a mistake in an exam and the giggles from making each other laugh. All these things I've experienced by the sides of these girls and it's definitely something I won't ever forget.


After being a pupil for so long myself I soon changed positions in the dance studio and became an assistant teacher. At the age of fourteen miss Ganley asked me to help teach two classes of tap on a Saturday morning. This has been the highlight of my week for the past four years, watching the progression of these tiny tots, in pre-primary and primary lessons, turning into talented tappers! Soon after Miss Ganley had confronted me about this voluntary position I actually started up the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Since then I have completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and I should be hopefully going to visit the Duke himself next year to collect my certificate. This wouldn't have been as enjoyable to achieve if it wasn't for Miss Ganley offering me this amazing position of leadership on a Saturday morning.


Being part of the Whittaker's family has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone on many occasions. Last year I started my final year at Baines sixth form college and was lucky enough to be given the role of Head Girl. This role keeps me very busy on a day to day basis, it has allowed me to discover new skills I didn't know I had and it has also allowed me to open so many doors I wouldn't of been able to beforehand.


After a trip to Shanghai and a visit to the cockpit of a Boeing 777, I realised that I wanted to become a pilot. I have taken up flying lessons since then and I am now working towards my private pilots license and have a strong passion for the life of aviation. I have the intentions of going to a flying school this year to train up and become a commercial airline pilot. The course I have applied to is only eighteen months altogether. It consists of six months based in Southampton where I will be attending my ground schooling lessons and completing examinations. The following eight months are then based in New Zealand, where I will undergo all of my flying hours to build up my commercial licence. Then finally I will fly back home to Bournemouth for the last qualifying three months to finalise my commercial licence. Once I have completed my license, I will then graduate from the flying school and from that date onwards I will get put into a holding pool for a maximum of a year. In this period of time airlines come along and select possible employees, for there company and so finger crossed within that time frame I will eventually become employed.


With that said the support I have received from Whittaker's has been phenomenal, to say the least! My future career hasn't turned out to be within the showbiz industry unfortunately, but I can assure my passion for dancing will follow me where ever I go. Rather than dancing on a stage, I will be dancing in the sky!


Ellie Batemen


(Foundation Day Queen 2015)

Victoria Maling, Aged 18




I have been a student at Whittaker's for 15 years gradually taking up all disciplines in Dance, Drama and Singing. My first Class was Ballet with Miss Whittaker in 1999 and since that day I have grown to be part of the Whittaker family taking regular classes in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Drama and Singing. Whittaker's not only provides you with the ultimate training but friends for life who you will never leave.


Whittaker's has always been an integral part of my life and this year it helped me to be accepted into YOUTH MUSIC THEATRE UK in their innovative production of an adaptation of Terry Pratchetts 'Soul Music' at The Rose Theatre, Kingston. Where I played the role of Miss Gregg's and Deaths Left Hand Man as an assistant Puppeteer. In terms of performances this had to be the closest opportunity leading me towards my desired dream of performing. During this project I moved to London for half of Summer working with leading directors, choreographers and musical directors allowing me to have an experience I will never forget. Having private drama lessons at the centre beginning with Mr Ganley then transferring to Miss Ganley provided me with the skills and confidence I needed to take on and be part of such a project. After this amazing experience I am so thankful to be performing with YMT UK again with a medley of 'Soul Music' this Christmas in 'LET IT SNOW' at Regents Hall, Oxford Street.


Currently I am at Blackpool Sixth Form College studying Dance, Musical Theatre and Performing Arts. My options initally sparked from the enthusiastic teaching at Whittakers. This year I played the role of Nickie Pignatelli in Sweet Charity and I have recently been given the role of Gloria/ Dance Captain in Thoroughly Modern Millie to be performed March 2015. All the training and skills I have learnt from Miss Ganley, Mrs Crawforth, Miss Southworth, Miss J and Mr Ganley through the years put me in good stead to take on roles I would have never dreamed I would be doing when I was a child, walking into the centre in a Pink Leotard, Skirt and Tights with my bobbed hair.


I was always encouraged to take charge of my learning within the industry and experience new challenges that would help me progress towards my desired career alongside taking regular classes at the centre. I recently performed with Blackpool and The Fylde Light Opera Company in Sister Act The Musical (Lancashire Premier) as Dance Captain alongside other Whittaker students including Nikita Coulon, Sophie Coulon, Danielle Woodhouse, Sarah McFayden which is an experience I shall never forget #buzzing!  And this October I was also been given the role of 'Cinderella' along with Pheobe Coulon (student) playing the role of 'Decdini' with Blackpool and The Fylde Children's Pantomime to be performed at The Grand Theatre in Febraury 2014 directed, choreographed and musically directed by students Miss Ganley has trained, taught and passed on her numerous skills too.


I always remember everytime I am lucky enough to have a great opportunity outside of Whittaker's, Miss Ganley and her team of fabulous teachers were the ones that enabled me to attain such achievements and I will forever remember how lucky I am to have trained throughout the past 15 years with passionate and caring teachers like them.


I hopefully will be taking my last dance exams at Whittaker's in the summer term. But until then I have many Drama school auditions I am preparing for using all the training I've been provided with here at Whittaker's to hopefully progress me onto a Degree programme in Musical Theatre, Professional Dance and Musical Theatre or Acting come Sept 2015.


After ages deciding I have finally chosen my six girlies all students of Whittaker's who I would like to join me in my retinue and be part of this special day in June 2015 marking 63 years of Dance at the Centre, I am delighted that I can celebrate this day with Ellie Bateman who will always be my best friend that Whittaker's and Fate brought me to! BRING ON JUNE!!!




(Foundation Day Queen 2015)


© Whittaker Dance and Drama Centre 2014

135 Hornby Road, Blackpool


01253 623368