About SJ Academy of Dance
SJ Academy of Dance was established in Hedge End in 1992 and became a partnership in 2012. The talented and dedicated team of teachers is led by School Principals Sally O’Rourke and Hannah Gell.
We have branches in Hedge End, Chilworth and Chandlers Ford providing the highest quality dance tuition to girls and boys in the Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester and Romsey areas. RAD and ISTD qualified teachers work alongside Sally and Hannah to operate a friendly and successful school where enjoyment, talent, potential and a love of dance is nurtured and inspired. Each child is carefully taught to their own individual needs whether dance is a hobby or a vocation, and all have the opportunity to study for exams, where they consistently achieve excellent results in all genres.
Students perform in our spectacular school shows held at a professional theatre, providing fun, entertainment and a uniquely memorable dance experience.
We are proud of our record of preparing students for a professional dancing career.
Students with aspirations to dance professionally may be invited into our Associate program and are offered the opportunity to compete in dance festivals and competitions around the country, including the Janet Cram Awards and Marjorie Davis Tap Awards laid on by the ISTD. Associate students compete locally, regionally and nationally and have celebrated national success in All England Dance Festivals. Many students following their vocation to dance go on to take Diploma and Degree courses in the performing arts at colleges around the country; as well as an excellent standard of training and performance, we provide support, advice and guidance to auditioning students. Successful SJAD alumni have gone on to study at Laine Theatre Arts; Bird College of Dance; Arts Educational College; Performers; Urdang Academy; Wilkes Academy; Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts; Scottish Conservatoire; Ballet West; The Place; London Studio; Tring and Royal Ballet School. Some students have gone straight in to professional contracts from their study at SJ Academy of Dance, and many successfully audition for pantomimes and musical theatre roles in local theatres and the West End while still training at
SJ Academy of Dance.
We strive to provide the best possible dancing experience for all our students in every lesson.
Sally O'Rourke is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School teacher's course, and is fully qualified in teaching classical and modern dance. After graduating from RBS in 1986 Sally danced professionally in Europe before working as a freelance teacher in London, then founded Sally Johnson Academy of Dance in 1992, now SJ Academy of Dance.
Hannah Gell is a graduate of the Hammond School and is fully qualified in teaching
classical and modern dance. On graduation Hannah went on to dance professionally
around the world before returning to the UK to pursue her teaching in various places
around the UK before settling on the South Coast.
Michelle has taught ISTD tap at SJ Academy of Dance for over twenty years and her students achieve fantastic exam results at all grades. Michelle trained as a dance teacher with Paddy Hurlings. She is a talented choreographer and is dedicated to helping each student achieve their potential in tap dance while enjoying their time with us. Michelle's daughters have both trained at SJ Academy of Dance, so she is an experienced dance parent as well as a dance teacher!
Ballet & Pilates
Sue started dancing at a local dance school in Gosport at the age of three and competed in all the same festivals at we do today, with her first dance on stage a song and dance aged just four. Sue was trained in Ballet, Tap and Modern, going on to pass Advanced level exams in all three genres. Leaving home at eighteen, Sue travelled to Finland to teach at a dance school; initially to teach Tap and Modern, she was then asked to teach Ballet to both children and adults. Returning to the UK, Sue continued to pursue her teaching vocation, first setting up a dance school with her sister, then further qualifying to teach Gym, Exercise to Music, Personal Training and Pilates. Sue now has over thirty years of teaching experience and over twenty years in the Health & Fitness industry, reaching the standard of Assessor and Quality Assurance Verifier, ensuring high standards in other teachers and instructors. Sue oversees our Associate classes in Pilates and Limbering, as well as teaching Grade Ballet and competition dances.
Modern, Tap, Ballet & Jazz
Chancey’s association with SJ Academy of Dance began as a student. She trained with us for over ten years, achieving Advanced 2 Ballet and Tap, and Advanced 1 Modern. Successfully auditioning at Laine Theatre Arts and Bird College of Dance, Chancey went on to study for her teaching qualifications at Chichester College. She gained DDEs in Tap and Modern (with a 96% mark) and DDI in Ballet. Chancey has danced at corporate events with ACO Entertainment and competed to a high standard at All England Dance Festivals for many years; she is now bringing that experience and knowledge to SJ Academy of Dance, choreographing and coaching our competing Associates. Chancey teaches all genres at SJ Academy of Dance, and is popular with students in all age groups. Her students achieve fantastic results in exams at all grades.
Amber trained at SJ Academy of Dance for 18 years before attending and graduating Laine Theatre Arts. Amber is a freelance dance teacher and heads up our Associate Jazz programme on a Saturday. Amber has done some great choreography for us and her under 21 modern group recently won the All England Finals.
Liz has a BA Hons in Drama and English and, combining her love of theatre and singing, teaches our Associate Musical Theatre classes. Liz passionately believes that the skills and confidence acquired in theatrical performance can benefit many aspects of the students' lives. Liz has been directing our school show for many years and is looking forward to the next one!
Modern & Jazz
Sarah started dancing aged three and since then has never lost her passion for dance. Qualified to teach Modern, Tap, Jazz & Ballet, Sarah had been a freelance teacher for thirty years before joining the SJ Academy of Dance team in 2017. As well as a wealth of teaching experience, Sarah brings with her a love and knowledge of Musical Theatre both as a performer and a choreographer around the South of England. Sarah’s talents in choreographing and teaching dances were recognised when she was awarded two Curtain Call Awards for Choreography for Crazy For You and 42nd Street, and she is fantastic at applying those skills to class and competition work, obtaining excellent results. Sarah’s daughter Grace has danced with us since the age of five, and we are very proud to have them both at SJAD.
Modern, Jazz & Tap
Libby Kenley in her early years trained at SJ Academy of Dance, then at 16 moved to London to train at Bird College. After graduating in 2018, Libby went on to dance professionally and travelled around the world on the Cunard cruise ships the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria. After her contract was cut short, by the Corona Virus, she arrived back in the UK and started teaching and choreographing for young dancers online. She now teaches and assists at our Associates, choreographs and cleans dances for competitions and covers all our classes whenever we’re in need.
BA (Hons) Ballet Ed. RAD RTS LRAD ARAD
Jasmin studied at SJ Academy of Dance for 18 years before moving to London in 2010, where she graduated in 2013 from the Royal Academy of Dance with a degree in Ballet Education, the Licentiate of the RAD (LRAD), and as an Associate of the RAD (ARAD). In 2021, Jasmin completed her Master’s degree, from the RAD in Education: Dance Teaching (MAE), where she notably received a distinction for her final dissertation. Jasmin is currently teaching at Performers College, is a lecturer for the RAD Faculty of Education, as well as teaching ballet at the RAD’s Dance School (Battersea). She has taught for the RAD London and Middlesex Awards Day (2018), and has most recently become a mentor, for trainee Ballet teachers on the RAD BABE programme (Level 5 and 6). Jasmin loves working at SJ, and can be found teaching ballet on a Monday night