JA Performing Arts

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Claire – Co Owner

Claire and her sister Gemma run JA Performing Arts. Claire has many years of experience as a PA/Secretary and has managed our office since 2008.

Claire danced from a very early age taking various ISTD exams in Ballet, Tap and Modern. She trained at The Jacqueline Annis School of Dance through to her teenage years.

Since September 2015 when Jackie retired, Claire and Gemma have been running the school together. Claire and Gemma are very dedicated to the future of JA Performing Arts and have many exciting plans! Claire will always be your first and foremost point of contact for messages, emails and telephone calls – there are not many questions Claire cannot answer!

Claire has two boys with her husband Mark. Zach, aged 13 and Harrison aged 9. When not working, Claire enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog Lily and running.

Gemma – Co Owner

Gemma and her sister Claire run JA Performing Arts. Gemma trained at the Jacqueline Annis School of Dance until she gained a place at The Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama in Nottingham. There, she completed a three-year Musical Theatre diploma. Gemma loved her time there and was trained by the industries leading professionals. She then went on to perform in many productions, securing both musical theatre and acting roles. Gemma then worked for Colchester Institute and Essex University, becoming Course Leader for the Dance programme.

Gemma left her position there to focus solely on the running of JA Performing Arts with her sister, Claire. Gemma teaches Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre and Drama at the school. She has many qualifications from the ISTD and has a Certificate In Education. Gemma is an advocate for professional, technical training and believes students building their confidence and enjoying their time with JA Performing Arts is most important to her.

Gemma and her husband, Simon have a daughter called Beatrice who is 4 years old. When Gemma is not teaching she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog Frank, going to the theatre and cooking.

Shakia – Teacher

At the age of two, Shakia started dancing. Year by year, picking up more genres of dance. At the age of 12 she started helping out with the younger classes which then followed by her teaching the classes. With gymnastics coaching under her belt, Shakia is always ready to head a challenge face on. With advanced major exams and years of training, she wishes to spread her joy of dance on to her students and be the inspiring teacher that she always dreamt to be. Competitive, trustworthy and resilient- Shakia is a friendly face and will always be there for advice. Shakia is currently training for qualifications in ISTD modern and tap teaching.  Shakia is also a training Acro teacher and teaches Acro classes at the school on Saturdays.

Jackie – Teacher

Jackie retired from JA Performing Arts in 2015 but guest teaches our adult ballet classes. Jackie has a wealth of teaching experience and started dancing at the age of 9 at the “Ivy Baker School of Dance” in Clacton-on-Sea. In 1968, she commenced three-year performing arts and teaching course at the prestigious “Bush Davies” school in Romford where she gained major examinations in ISTD and RAD Ballet, Tap, Jazz and National Dance.

She went on to successfully gain her Associate teaching examinations in Classical Ballet, Tap and Modern Theatre. After owning a school in Colchester for over 10 years Jackie then opened the Clacton-on-Sea based “Jacqueline Annis School of Dance”.

Jackie re-launched the school as JA Performing Arts to reflect the school growth in the Performing Arts. Jackie retired in July 2015; the School is now run by her two daughters Claire and Gemma.

Laura Salazar – Teacher

Laura began her journey studying Ballet, Tap and Jazz at the Jaqueline Annis School of Dance (now JA Performing Arts) at a young age being taught by both Jackie and Gemma. She then went on to train at the Colchester Institute studying a Diploma in Dance also being taught by Gemma Wright. Her training then moved on to the Creative Academy where she studied for 3 years and gained a Degree in Dance.
After graduating, she then began her career touring Panama and Costa Rica in a traveling circus as a Dancer while gaining skills in Aerial Arts. This then lead her on to performing around the USA as a Dancer and Aerialist and where Laura met her husband. Together they then turned his solo aerial act into a duo Skywalk Act and have since performed the act all over the world as Duo Salazar.
After 7 years of performing as a Dancer and Aerialist, Laura is now based closer to home and pleased to be returning to where it all began! Joining the JA Performing Arts team is such a pleasure for Laura after spending so many years at the school as a student and now getting to put her experiences into teaching

Grace Grisby – Teacher

Grace has been performing from a very young age, studying ISTD grades in ballet, modern and tap and beginning her teaching journey assisting in various classes.

Throughout school Grace became involved in a variety of drama productions and musicals that fuelled her passion for the arts and led her to study Musical Theatre at Colchester Institute where she achieved a diploma.

Most recently, she graduated Performers College with a degree in Musical Theatre, receiving professional training across all disciplines of the performing arts. She also studied for her DDE teaching qualifications.

Grace absolutely loves teaching and getting to be a part of each student’s journey, helping them achieve their dreams along the way.

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