Dance school celebrates opening of new studio in St Austell

  • Watch Kathy Wardle's report

A dance school in St Austell is celebrating securing a permanent home after eight years.

After hopping from one borrowed venue to another, Studio 4 Dance was offered a disused commercial unit just off St Austell's main shopping area.

But the redundant units needed major renovations to become a professional dance centre.

Creative director of Studio 4 Dance Alice Walker said: "It did need a lot of work but as soon as I stepped in here I thought this is our home, we can make this work. With community spirit everyone donated and shared our work and we did it."

A little more than £12,000 was donated to a Crowdfunder appeal by Studio 4 Dance and a further £10,000 grant came from St Austell Town Council.

With various other fundraising events and help from supporters, they have transformed the building at Old Vicarage Place.

Alice Walker leads a dance class at Studio 4 Dance Credit: ITV News

Studio 4 Dance offers classes for children and adults in Hip Hop Styles, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Musical Theatre, Commercial and Contemporary Dance.

The school is now launching a BTEC course in Creative and Performing Arts in partnership with Cornwall College. Many of its young dancers want to make a career for themselves in the performing arts world.

Dancer Ellie Handley said: "I've been with Studio 4 for a long time, it's nearly my eighth year and I feel like it's just become a second family.

"I can come to this space and feel safe and do what I love. I'd love to go to dance school after the BTEC."

Leo Walker, 16, says the dance lessons have helped him with confidence and given him a place where he feels at ease.

"I can be myself," he said. "Sometimes when you go to school you feel you have to act like someone else, and I think with Studio 4 everyone can be themselves and enjoy themselves dancing and it just makes me a better person."

Dancers at Studio 4 Dance Credit: ITV News

Alice has been with the school since it's very early days. She says she has been on a personal mission to create the best opportunities for local children.

"It's so important, it's just a safe space," she said.

"We do a lot of work with industry professionals and bring them here, or we try and get students to London to see the big wide world and give them those inclusive, accessible but high quality opportunities."

The school already has dancers working professionally. In 2020, former student Jessica Mendes performed at the Brit Awards alongside British Rapper Stormzy.