meet our team

Dance Teachers

Kathryn Preston


Kathryn’s love for dance and performing began early, at the tender age of 3 years, when she joined the ‘Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance’.

Throughout her early and teenage years, Kathryn received tuition from Miss Stagles, Mrs Beard and Miss Julie – excelling in all her IDTA and RAD dance classes. In fact, Kathryn achieved no less than Highly Commended and Honours in every single examination she took whilst a pupil of the school.

Over the years, Kathryn also represented the dancing school at the Doncaster Civic Theatre, being offered contracts with Pantoni Pantomimes 8 years running – first as a ‘Nellie Stagles Juvenile’ and then as part of the ‘Rita Proctor Teensteppers’ troupe.

It was these great examination successes and professional theatre work experience that continued to feed and fuel Kathryn’s passion for dance, confirming her decision to attend the prestigious ‘Phil Winston’s Theatreworks’ in Blackpool. During her 3 years study at Theatreworks, Kathryn took part in many professional shows in and around the Lancashire area – often playing lead dance and vocal roles, including taking the role of Principal Dancer at a ‘Help For Heroes’ concert.  

Kathryn successfully graduated from Blackpool, achieving the highest mark possible in her IDTA teaching qualifications. 

2009 saw Kathryn return to the school, this time as a valued member of the teaching team. She has taught across all studios in Doncaster since qualifying as a teacher, more latterly at our Tickhill, Sprotbrough and Town studios.

Dancing and the Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance is a huge part of Kathryn’s life and indeed her family’s life too – as they are now on to the 4th generation being associated with the school.

Sarah Preston


Sarah joined the ‘Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance’ at aged 2, where she danced four times a week. 

Sarah appeared and danced for over 10 years in the annual Doncaster Civic Theatre Pantomimes, first as a Nellie Stagles Juvenile and latterly as a Rita Proctor Teenstepper. 

Excelling throughout her teenage years and achieving the highest possible grades in all her IDTA core branches and also in her RAD classical ballet studies, Sarah remained a pupil right up until the age of 18. 

At the age of 18, Sarah was offered numerous places to continue her professional training, however, in the end she decided to join the Phil Winston’s Theatreworks in Blackpool. 

During her 3 years at Blackpool, Sarah gained her IDTA Associate teaching qualifications and performed and danced in numerous professional productions in the Winter Gardens. In fact, it was whilst performing at Blackpool, Sarah was seen and asked to dance professionally for Qdos Pantomimes in Southampton. 

After graduating from Theatreworks, Sarah’s professional career was launched! Sarah went on to dance all over the world, in many countries and on some amazing stages. She accompanied Bobby Davro, as Principal dancer on his UK tour, danced on the 18 month Joe Longthorne Laughter Tour, before landing her dream job aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – where she danced for 5 years. 

During Sarah’s time with Royal Caribbean, she met some wonderful people and performed for many VIP’s within “the business”. In fact, it was whilst onboard, Sarah managed to secure a place as a dancer for the Queens Golden Jubilee celebration. 

After returning from life at sea, Sarah moved back to her home town of Doncaster and settled down and started her family. However, dancing was still very much a part of her life! She was asked by Phil Winston to teach at his Theatreworks Summer Schools and later went on to work with the IDTA and become a dancer and demonstrator for their new IDTA Intermediate Modern Jazz syllabus and was recorded for their DVD. 

Along with being a full time mum to her beautiful daughters, Sarah was asked by Mark to open up the Intake and Tickhill Studios and became a full time Dance Teacher back with the school. 

In fact, the Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance has been part of Sarah’s life for nearly ALL her life. Dance is in Sarah’s blood and teaching her passion to the next generation is something she loves to do. 

Gemma Bowser


It was at the early age of 2, that Gemma joined the ‘Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance’, with her very first teacher being Miss Stagles herself.

Through the years, Gemma continued her dance tuition through Janet Beard, Julie Buxton and finally Shani Mitchell. Gemma also carried out her work experience, assisting with classes for Miss Stagles, Janet Beard and Jane Hallas. 

Throughout her time within the school, Gemma performed in the traditional Doncaster and Penistone pantomimes for several years, before being offered a place to train professionally at the Phil Winston’s Theatre Works in Blackpool for 3 years.  

After graduating, Gemma gained her teaching qualifications with Betty Chappelle in Barnsley – achieving Honours in all her teaching exams.

In 2004, Gemma returned to Doncaster and joined the Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance as a teacher, at our Cantley studio, working alongside Janet Beard. During her time as a teacher within the school, Gemma chaperoned the Juveniles in the Doncaster Civic Theatre pantomimes, choreographed by Rita Proctor. Gemma also assisted Miss Proctor conducting extra practices and rehearsals. 

During her ten years of teaching at the school, Gemma taught pupils at our Cantley and Town studios, Monday to Saturday, before leaving to start a family and become a mum in 2014. 

2020 sees Gemma return full circle, to the school she started off at aged 2.

Shani Mitchell – Associate Teacher & IDTA Technical Adviser

Fellow Examiner I.D.T.A, Adjudicator, Lecturer and Professional Choreographer

Shani Mitchells’ work as an international choreographer has grown naturally from her extensive performance career both in Britain and throughout the world.

A Fellow and Examiner of the ‘International Dance Teachers Association’ (I.D.T.A.) and a member of its Modern Jazz Technical Committee, she is firmly grounded in classical technique, but the fire and passion of her choreography owes much to her time in Spain. A principal dancer and soloist on Spanish televisions ‘Entre Amigos’, she worked with Shirley Bassey, Latoya Jackson, Donna Summer and Sacha Distel, to name but a few.

Fluent in languages, her thirst for travel led her to join the Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line as Principal Dancer and Rehearsal Director, working throughout Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Russia and the United States, returning to England to teach masterclasses at the ‘Phil Winstons’ Theatre Works’, Blackpool and extend her choreographic repertoire.

She has choreographed for Qdos Entertainments Grand Christmas Productions; Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre, Newcastle Theatre Royal, Mayflower Southampton, His Majestys Aberdeen and Beauty and the Beast at Darlington Civic Theatre, working with Bonnie Langford, Robert Powell, Timothy Healey, Alan Fletcher and Paul Nicholas.

She was asked to join the giant Turkish show ‘Sultans of the Dance’ in the Showland Theatre in Istanbul as Rehearsal Director.  Since then she has choreographed more ambitious production, ‘Flames of Passion’, both shows following their home runs with International tours.

Most recently she has been asked to promote the I.D.T.A. Modern Jazz Dance syllabus for the Royal Academy of Dance Summer School in Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Hilary Needham – Associate Teacher & RAD Technical Adviser


Some of you may know Miss Hilary already, as she is an ex pupil of the school, of 20 years, who returned to teach for us in 2010 following the sad death of Janet Beard.

Hilary has many years of experience in the world of dance and has taught professionally for over 21 years. Following her senior examination successes at the ‘Nellie Stagles School of Theatre Dance’, Hilary left to attend the ‘London College of Dance’. Here she completed a three year course in Dance Studies and Dance Teacher Training, to Associate level and was awarded the Diploma of the college (Dip. LCD) in 1992.

Whilst at college she also gained her Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Advanced 1 Ballet and her Tap and Modern qualifications and during her final year she was elected 'Head Girl' (President of the student union) by her peers.

After leaving college, Hilary remained in the south of England and ran her own dance school with branches in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. In addition to this she taught at many primary and theatre schools and was asked to choreograph routines for children's showcases staged at the London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. She also created and developed dance and movement sessions for children and adults with learning difficulties at local hospitals and special needs schools.

Eventually, returning to her native Doncaster Hilary continued her studies and was awarded the Certificate in Education (Cert ED) after following a programme in Education and Training in the Post-Compulsory Sector by the University of Huddersfield.

Most recently, she has enjoyed working in the community dance world and has continued to teach therapeutic movement sessions to students with learning difficulties. She has also been the resident choreographer for local amateur operatic group the Hatfield Woodhouse Players and has staged many productions with them, including 'Anything Goes' and 'Oklahoma'.

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64 Hatchellwood View
Bessacarr, Doncaster