Meet the Dance Track staff

Rachel Hester – Dance Track Teacher
Born in Nassau, the Bahamas, Rachel Hester trained at Rona Hart’s School of Dance and the Park-Grahame Ballet School before winning a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School. She danced with the Royal Danish Ballet from 1988, joining Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1993; First Artist, 1997. Rachel's career as a dancer ceased in 2004 and started teaching for the Dance Track Programme the same year. She has completed a teacher’s course with the Royal Academy of Dance and has also been involved in several projects for the Department for Learning.

Olivia Pickford – Dance Track Teacher
Olivia Pickford AISTD RAD Dip trained with The Royal Ballet Associates and the Arts Educational School Tring and then went on to dance in the contemporary company Dikosmos in Australia. Olivia has taught globally in Australia, Norway, New Zealand, Japan and Italy. In Tokyo she worked for former Principal of The Royal Ballet Tetsuya Kumakawa at K Ballet.

She has been guest company teacher for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake Japan tour. She has taught for professional dance schools in the UK such as The Arts Educational School Tring, Bird College, and Bodyworks and is Former Head of Ballet for Tiffany Theatre College. She is a guest teacher for RAD and Cecchetti Summer Schools as well as guest lecturer for the IDTA. In 2009 Olivia was choreographer for London Children's Ballet production of Snow White which was performed in the West End. Olivia recently worked as choreographer in the latest Keanu Reeves film 47 Ronin.

Ian Richards – Dance Track Painist
Ian is a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire. He has worked extensively as an opera repetiteur and vocal caoch and directed many musicals. He is in much demand as a pianist for dance as he is experienced in the nuances of accompaniment for dance and in particular ballet. Ian works with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Department for Learning on a regular basis, accompanying both technique and creative workshops for all ages, he also sometimes accompanies company classes.  Ian also plays for Elmhurst School for Dance and the Royal Ballet associate program.

Natasha Massie – Ballet Training Officer and Chaperone
Born in Burnham-on-Crouch, Natasha trained at the Arts Educational School, Tring Park, and Elmhurst School for Dance; during her time as a student she toured nationally with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Upon graduating from Elmhurst in 2009, Natasha began her BA(Hons) Professional Practice (Dance) and completed this in June 2011. Natasha joined Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Department for Learning in November 2011 as Ballet Training Officer and Chaperone and her duties include coordinating the Dance Track programme and chaperoning the Dance Track students at their weekly classes.

Additional Staff for Dance Track workshops:

Colin Sangster – Dance Track workshop leader
Colin is from the highlands of Scotland and started highland dancing at the age of four. By 15 Colin had reached world championship standard and was asked to join an established television dance group. He then studied all forms of dance at the Academy of Ballet in Edinburgh. Colin had a very successful dancing career, working in all areas of the entertainment industry, from films and television to theatre, pop videos and corporate events. His experience in hip hop, ballet, jazz, contemporary, theatre dance, movement direction, historical dance, rock & roll and swing demonstrates the breadth of Colin’s choreographic abilities and his clients include Birmingham Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, BBC’s Top Gear Live and many more. During his career Colin has also travelled the country delivering a wide range of dance- / movement-based educational workshops for people of all ages and abilities.

Andrew Kristy – Dance Track workshop accompanist
Since turning professional in 1986 Andrew has had extensive experience both as composer and performer, appearing in performances of his own works on Radio 1 (The Andy Kershaw Show and The Friday Rock Show), BBC2 Network East, Channel 4 (Big World Café) with Nigel Kennedy and Nusrat Fateh Alla Khan. More recent TV and radio credits include African Safari (BBC 2005), and Ballet Hoo! (first broadcast in September 2006).

He has worked as composer and pianist, under the auspices of Birmingham Royal Ballet, on numerous education projects, including Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake , 'Still Life' at the Penguin Café and many more. Andrew has also composed for numerous dance companies. His music has been performed live at the Lichfield International Arts Festival, Stroud Festival, Sadler's Wells Theatre and Birmingham Hippodrome. His first work for full orchestra, Synapse, was commissioned by The Duke of Norfolk to open the first open- air fireworks concert at Carlton Towers , Yorkshire, in July 1995. He has since written for members of the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Ballet Sinfonia and Bardi Symphony orchestras, and arranged music for concerts at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

He also mentors piano students from the Birmingham Conservatoire, and is a consultant for AS and A2 Music Technology.

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