When the beauty of youth brings out a sense of exhibitionism, and the thrill of dancing around the bedroom, belting out a pop song, (optional hairbrush microphone in hand) seems natural, it’s a precious time to cherish and nurture. And for those with real ambition, enthusiasm and drive, let’s call it the ‘X-Factor’, there has been little available in terms of stage school opportunities in the UAE, up until recently. Cue Dubai Performing Arts academy (DPA), a concept that is celebrating its fi rst year in the business of offering children aged 3-18 across the emirates Musical Theatre, Rock, Pop and Street Dance courses, even a Glee-style club to practice in, across syllabuses accredited by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Serious stuff for those with star qualities to share, and hearts set on the spotlight.
The academy boasts a team of vocal coaches, drama teachers and choreographers for mobile classes that run at Fitness First locations throughout the city, led by husband and wife team, Lisa Scott-Lee and Johnny Shentall-Lee. The pair not only share a past in the public eye (as former members of successful British pop groups Steps and Hear’Say, respectively), but a future in training the UAE-based stars of tomorrow. Bazaar takes a moment with the Principal and DPA’s leader, Lisa Scott-Lee...
Congratulations on your first anniversary at DPA; what is the secret to its success?
The training we offer at DPA is unique because Johnny and I have first-hand experience of the pop music industry and musical theatre. We are passionate about passing on our knowledge to our students and giving them the performance skills and confidence to become the strongest all-round performers possible.
Are the children in Dubai particularly good at performing?
Because a lot of our students and families are away from ‘home’, we have managed to create a wonderful environment that has fondly become known as the ‘DPA family’. It is lovely to be a part of the community and it feels very special. We have students from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Fujairah attending classes now.
If a child is finding it difficult to pursue their dream, what techniques do you use to encourage them?
Parents and children come to DPA for various reasons: some want to build confi dence and improve communication skills; some want to enhance their performing skills; but whatever the starting point, we believe that a child learns best when they feel comfortable and are safe and secure in their teaching environment. Our motto is, “have fun learning what you love!”