Performing arts ‘pad’ in Dunstable now offers sixth form

Young dancers at The Performing Arts Depot strike the perfect pose
Young dancers at The Performing Arts Depot strike the perfect pose

An enterprise in Dunstable is offering hope to performing arts students after courses were culled at Central Bedfordshire College in the summer.

The Performing Arts Depot, located on Queensway, Dunstable, has grown from an after-school club to a fully-fledged performing arts school.

And it now offers a full-time sixth form course for school leavers, with modules in dance, acting, singing and musical theatre, taught by experienced professionals.

For owner Daniel Keating, 37, the course offers opportunities he never had.

He said: “I was interested in dance at school but they never had classes and I was advised to find something else.”

Daniel’s career as hip-hop and break dancer began when he was 20, almost by accident.

He said: “I went to Ministry of Sound and got asked by one of the guys dancing there to audition, and then I was resident at Ministry.

“So I did hip-hop and break dancing and then worked on things like The X Factor, The Brit Awards, a Jamiroquai tour and private parties for Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black.”

After a successful career in London, former Northfields Upper pupil Daniel came back to Dunstable six years ago to form the dance school.

He said: “When I came back, I thought surely there was someone like me when I was 14 or 15 who wants to dance and doesn’t know where to do it.”

After 18 months teaching hip-hop and breakdance, Daniel’s wife Amanda joined to teach ballet. She is a classically trained ballerina and former alumni at Ballet West and the Urdang Academy.

From then on, the school has branched out across the performing arts.

Daniel said: “We bring lots of guest teachers to the school, Flawless came to dance, so did The Eighteen, Zoo Nation, and we’ve had in the cast of Thriller and The Lion King.”

And Daniel believes career opportunities are growing. He said: “Over the next 10 to 15 years, this industry is going to grow to be more structured. The commercial dance scene is in its infancy. I don’t think we’ve done more than scratch the surface yet.”

The Performing Arts Depot will host an open day on November 29 from 10am-5pm. Visit www.the-pad.co.uk.