Dance school goes from strength to strength

9th March

Dance success

Lottie O’Kill and Kira Nichols who have both been accepted to top schools

Just four years after taking over the helm at East Sussex Dance Studios former professional dancers Jenna Crescenzo and her sister Carys-Mari Hedges are celebrating some major successes.

Several students have been accepted into world-class institutions and the school won an incredible 28 medals in a recent competition and over 300 in three years.

Former Cross-in Hand School pupil Jonah Hinton-Avery, 11, secured a place at The Royal Ballet School which only offers 12 places each year to ballet dancers from across the globe.

Meanwhile Jonah’s sister Louella, age 13, was accepted into the Tring School of Performing Arts in September 2017 and fellow student and ESDS Head Girl Lottie O’Kill age 15 has secured one of the 10 coveted places available each year for September 2018. She has also just been offer a place at Emil Dale. Lottie has also been busy starring in a London’s West End as Patrice in Thirteen the musical. Singer Ella Henderson is one of the many stars who attended Tring Park.

Former ESDS Head Girl Kira Nichols, 16, has also secured a sixth-form place at The Hammond – a performing arts school in Chester. Only 10 to 15 places are available each year.

Group of dancers

Dancers from East Sussex Dance Studios

Jenna said: “We are so proud of our students and pleased that their hard work and dedication has paid off. Students winning places at the Royal School of Ballet, The Hammond and Tring Park is testament to the standard of our teaching. My sister and I both trained at Tring Park so we’re especially delighted that Louella and Lottie are going there. As well as dance, we offer musical theatre so there is scope for students to dance or dance and sing.”

From just 13 students when Jenna took over East Sussex Dance Studios, there are now 160 with some attending once a week and others almost every day. The ages of students range from 18 months to a 78-year-old who attends tap classes.

“My sister and I were both professional dancers so we know what it takes to achieve success. In a short time we have built an excellent reputation.

“At the last competition we were overjoyed to return with 28 medals. Some of the students who started with us at just 18 months old won medals and achieved high places including golds. We had four year olds dancing by themselves on stage which was amazing. Two years ago we only won six medals at the same competition.

“We have the competition side and the students who train once a week – but everyone learns together in a very supportive environment. In essence. my sister and I are trying to give students the high standard of teaching that we had when we lived in London. They can do as much or as little as they want. For us it’s about training them to be the best they can be,” explained Jenna.

East Sussex School of Dance currently has five teachers and there are plans to expand at the end of the year and hold classes at Mayfield, Cross-in-Hand and Horam. The studio in Five Ashes has been customised with mirrors on the walls which pupils raised funds for. There is a vacancy for a new teacher to start in September. East Sussex Dance Studios also holds a 100% exam success rate with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.

Ballet dancers

Students in the dance studio in Five Ashes

Jenna added: “The great thing about dance is that it is somewhere for kids to get active and grow. It’s not just about dance, it’s great for their social life too. Some children come for eight hours a week and others just 30 minutes. It gives them something alongside school and many use it as a sort of release.”

For anyone interested in starting classes themselves or for their children you can take advantage of a free trial contact or 07828-131-686

Jenna spent nine years as a professional performer and performed in productions such as Les Miserables, Grease, Crazy for You and Mack and Mable, as well as many cruise ships and pantomimes.