Michael Vinsen - Musical Theatre Tutor
Hi I’m Michael.
I caught the Theatre bug aged 8 and haven’t stopped since. I took singing, dancing and acting classes at my local dance school and made my professional debut at 10 on the UK tour of ‘Oliver!’ I continued my vocational training at Laine Theatre Arts graduating at 18 and went straight into the Original Swiss cast of ‘We Will Rock You’ in Zurich. I moved back to the UK to be in the Original London cast of Hairspray where I met Emma. She had a dream of opening her own performing arts school and here we are!!
I’ve been teaching at Doddies since the beginning and love every second! I teach dance on Sunday mornings and also put together all three disciplines that the children learn into fully fledged Musical theatre pieces for their showcases. Alongside teaching at Doddies I’ve continued my career in the West End, appearing in shows such as Grease, Legally Blonde, The Book of Mormon Kinky Boots, Bare, Follies. And working on various theatre concerts, workshops, TV shows and feature films.
Doddies is where I really get to be creative and I love to come up with elaborate ideas for all the incredible performing opportunities the kids get. Seeing these kids take what they learn in class and hone their craft to become really skilled young adult performers is so rewarding.
Theatre is my passion. I try my best to pass that passion on to my students and infuse everything I do with it. And when they fly the nest to go off in pursuit of their dreams be it in the performing arts or elsewhere, I hope they take at least some of what they learn from us with them.
We really are one big family!
Tara Fields - L.A.M.D.A. and Musical Theatre Tutor
Tara was bitten by the Arts bug at the tender age of 4 as she stepped out of a giant egg onto stage as a newly-hatched chick!
Her training began at Tiffany Stage Academy, Essex, and Tara could be found onstage, backstage and front of house from an early age, participating in many productions including ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’, ‘Annie’, ‘Our Day Out’ (Mrs Kay), ‘Stepping Out’ (Dorothy) and ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’ (Trixie). She has worked with such performers as Roy Hudd, Bernie Clifton, Chas & Dave, Barbara Windsor and Norman Wisdom. And is a trained follow-spot operator!
Taking the academic route in to the Arts, she achieved a joint degree in Drama and Education. Productions included ‘Teechers’ (Gail), Square Rounds (Clara), Live Like Pigs (Sally), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Joe) and a TV documentary about Henry VIII, filmed at Hampton Court Palace.
After graduating Tara worked as a primary teacher for several years, developing the school Drama Club, and directing/choreographing productions, including ‘Toad of Toad Hall’, ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Joseph’.
In 2002 she established her own business ‘Act Now Drama Company’, as a Freelance Drama Teacher, which led to a position as Head of Drama at a summer camp in Vermont, USA, delivering workshops and directing productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Once Upon A Mattress.
Tara then went on to become a Senior Teacher at an enrichment centre in Singapore. Over the next 7 years she performed, taught (ages 3 – 18), and also trained adults in Speech & Drama (Singapore and Delhi), in addition to directing, choreographing, examining, mentoring, leading workshops, producing (and publishing) teaching resources, studying for her own exams in LAMDA and Trinity Guildhall, developing her own teaching course, working with Singapore Repertory Theatre, and co-founding a theatre company ‘Voices of Eve’. In her spare time, she managed a spot of travelling (across 5 continents!), and danced with Jitterbugs Swingapore.
Since returning to the UK Tara has worked in various capacities including a round-Britain tour of Ambassador Theatre Group venues, assessing lighting bars! She has taught various drama classes and workshops locally, including a production of Hercules – in a week! And is proud to say she has ex-students working and studying in the UK, the US, Singapore, Australia and China.
In 2012, Tara decided to take up a hobby and revisit her dance roots in jazz and musical theatre classes at DanceEast. Her teacher was, of course, Emma Dodd. And so, life as a Doddy began … and the rest, as they say, is history!
Eli-Anna Chapman - Commercial Jazz and Musical Theatre Tutor
I have been dancing ever since I could walk and so I decided to turn what was my childhood hobby into a passionate career. I went onto Tiffany Theatre College age 16 where I completed a 2 year performing arts diploma 2009-2011 and a 1 year Professional Performance Course 2011-2012. Whilst training I also gained a ISTD DDI Teaching qualification in Modern Theatre.
I was lucky enough to join the Doddies Family back in January 2015 and I have loved every minute of it. As a child I always knew I were destined to teach because I was always that bossy child that new every routine inside and out! After I left college I went straight back to assist some of the top Choreographers like Matt Flint (SYTYCD WINNER), Damien Jackson & David Wood which gave me an insight into the Teaching/Choreographing Profession and I loved it. This then lead onto me gaining the opportunity of being assistant Choreographer on the M.O music video alongside some of the top Commercial Choreographers Christian Storm, Phil Griffin & John Graham for Mass Movement Agency.
Some of my other credits include Performing with Jessie J on Strictly Come Dancing, Hard Fi at the FA Cup Wembley, Flash Mobs in Oxford street, Dancer for Duo Pantomimes. TV Credits include UEFA Cup Champions League Final, Strictly come Dancing, Coca Cola Advert aired in Europe.
At Doddies my main genre is Commercial Jazz which I teach on Tuesday Evenings! My classes have continued to grow and grow over the years which for me is so rewarding.
On Tuesdays we aim to have as much fun as possible whilst learning all the different styles in which Commercial has... Hip Hop, Jazz, Heels, House, Floor Work, Popping & Locking the list goes on.
In most of my lessons the students learn a new routine, this aims to train their brains and picking up skills which will help them in their future at auditions, whilst also gaining confidence in another genre that is very popular in the professional industry but also great fun to learn and do.
We only have an hour a week but seeing the what they can achieve in just an hour and how much my current students skills have come along since starting is amazing.
Teaching the whole school on Sundays is so much fun and full of talent, happiness & love. It gives me the opportunity to see and work with the students that I miss on my Tuesday sessions.
I have passion for all dance genres, singing and acting so aim to teach different styles to my commercial lessons on Sundays, that way the school gets a variety of lessons to create a well rounded performer.
Doddies really is a Family that I feel blessed to be apart of and i can't wait to see what the future holds.
Nic Coleman - Musical Director
Training: University Of Kent at Canterbury, Anglia Ruskin University and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Qualifications: BA (Accounting and Finance), BA (1st Class – Music), ABRSM Pianoforte Grade 8 (Distinction)
Performance credits while training: Anglia Ruskin Chorus and Anglia Ruskin Chamber Choir (various choral performances as a tenor including Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Durufle’s Requiem), Andy Anderson in Benjamin Britten’s opera Paul Bunyan.
My musical training started at age seven with piano lessons with the wonderful Maureen Finch. Having taken all of my graded exams but failing my grade 8 aged 16, my career headed in a different direction and I studied accounting at University the first time, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant aged 24.
However, music stayed with me as I helped my children to pass their piano, keyboard and singing exams. I became Musical Director of the Stagecoach Ipswich Parents Choir in 2011 and subsequently set up the Ipswich Hospital Community Choir where I have been Musical Director since 2013.
After really loving working with groups of voices in choirs and finding teaching singing a wonderfully fulfilling experience, I gave up being a boring Finance Director in 2014 to study music full time, having finally (under the masterful tuition of Daniel Law) passed ABRSM piano grade 8 with distinction in late 2013 aged 45!
I joined the school as Musical Director in March 2017, and currently teach singing to all age groups with a particular emphasis on ensemble work and, for the older children, singing in 2, 3 and 4-part harmony. It is an absolute pleasure to work at the school with such wonderful teachers and highly committed students. You never know quite what to expect each Sunday morning, but watching (and more importantly, hearing) the students take your advice on board and growing week on week is a delight. The end-of-year show although hard graft is a great experience for all. I believe in setting standards high for the students, but also that we should all have huge amounts of fun at all times because music is for bringing joy into everyone’s lives!
My personal musical taste is quite diverse, having loved Chopin when playing piano as a child, but also having been brought up listening to ABBA and The Sound Of Music. If had to pin down where my real teaching and compositional soul is, I’d say firstly anything where the voice is involved, in particular the musical part of musical theatre, and choral work with ensembles singing anything from Monteverdi to modern day pop music. 1980s pop music is also a bit of a specialism of mine, and I have a great love of synthesised sound, which I try to incorporate where possible in my composition work. I also love to write for full orchestra, having been heavily influenced by the likes of Rachmaninoff as well as the great film composers John Barry, John Williams and James Horner. Last, but not least, I have a passion for musical theatre, in particular the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Schwarz, whose Wicked score I rate as my absolute favourite. I am also continuing to study music, being in the second year of a 2-year Masters Degree in Composition at Trinity Laban.
Jennifer Hirst - Mini Musical Theatre Tutor
I have been performing in all three performance disciplines from a very young age and have achieved an A Level in Performance Studies and a Degree in Drama. Over the years I have studied ballet, tap, modern and jazz and have competed in Latin and Ballroom dancing. At the age of 16 I began teaching young children ballet, tap and modern at a dance school in Norwich. I continued teaching in local groups while studying in Hull and then while working backstage in London. When I moved to Ipswich I was looking to return to performing for fun and joined the Doddies Adult Performance Group in 2014. I began teaching the Mini Musical Theatre class in 2016. I absolutely love being a part of the Doddie family, seeing the smiling faces and bags of energy of the young performers every Sunday is such a joy and a highlight of my week. More is always more and the little ones certainly give more!
Hazel Banham - Technical Jazz Tutor
After growing up in Ipswich, I continued my training at London Studio Centre where I gained my degree in Theatre Dance. I started working professionally straight out of college, travelling the world performing on cruise ships, in casino shows and on tour. After 10 years I returned to Ipswich and soon after began teaching at the Emma Dodd School of Performing Arts. Over 5 years ago we started in a tiny studio in Silent Street and we have grown in strength and numbers since then. Watching the students progress is my biggest thrill, and as I stand at the back of the theatres watching them perform it is normally with tears in my eyes seeing how far they have come. Despite now being the Dance Course Leader at Colchester Institute, I still look forward to my Tuesday evenings at Doddies. Working with the students who give it their all and are such a pleasure to teach, no matter how hard I work them, it really is my soul food. Here’s to the next 5 years!