CAT team and faculty

The Place's Centre for Advanced Training staff are professional teachers, dancers and choreographers with a wealth of experience and expertise in the dance sector. Our students benefit from being taught by leading dance artists who inspire and develop their students to realise their potential.

CAT Team

Vicky Evans
CAT Programme Manager

Vicky trained at London Contemporary Dance School graduating with a BA (Hons) in 1993. Vicky was a dancer with Matthew Bourne's AMP/New Adventures from 1995-2008, creating roles and performing in Swan Lake, Cinderella, The Car Man, Nutcracker! and Edward Scissorhands. She also performed in the film versions of Swan Lake, The Car Man and Nutcracker! Vicky was Resident Artistic Director for Swan Lake from 2005 to 2007. Vicky has also performed with many other small scale companies: Richard Lord (Duets for Small Spaces), English National Opera, Carlson Dance Company, Isabel Mortimer, Phoenix Dance Company and Dance City (Toutes Femmes). Vicky has also been teaching professionally for over 15 years for LCDS, Laban, Central School of Ballet, ENBS, The Place, GDA and was a founder member and workshop leader for Re:Bourne.

Rachel Wheatley
CAT Trainee

Rachel started training aged 2 at Lets Dance Academy in St. Albans, where she did Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and Contemporary classes and ISTD exams. In 2012 she was accepted onto the Trinity Laban Centre for Advanced Training programme and continued with them until 2015. Further to this she studied Dance at University of Chichester and graduated with a BA (hons) in 2018. During her time at Chichester, Rachel was part of 3Fall Dance Company as a dancer, who worked with James Wilton, Abigail Mortimer and Joe Garbett, creating pieces before taking them on tour around the UK and Malta.

Ballet Faculty

Denzil Bailey
Denzil trained as a professional ballet dancer at the West Street Ballet School in London. After a successful career dancing with London Festival Ballet and English National Ballet he expanded on his classical foundations dancing in contemporary companies including Mark Baldwin Dance Company and Souls In Motion, as well as working in television, musical theatre and opera. He is a founder member of Ballet Black and Sheron Wray's Jazz Xchange and is now a well-respected dance teacher throughout the UK and Europe.

Raymond Chai
Born in Malaysia, Raymond has worked in television, musical theatre and classical ballet. He danced with the National Ballet of Portugal and in musical theatre productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company; the London Palladium; Royal National Theatre and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as well as in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Zurich. His credits for German television include Tatort and Zorc and he choreographed for the UK television show Auf Wiedersehen Pet for the BBC.  Raymond's other choreographic commissions include working for Ballet Black (Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House), the National Ballet of Portugal; Hong Kong Ballet; Sommer Tanz Fest (Switzerland); Staatstheater Karlsruhe, East London Dance(Stratford Circus), Artelier at the Music Room and The BrideWell Theatre and the King's Head Theatre in London. Raymond has been guest teacher for Matthew Bourne's New Adventures; Richard Alston Dance Company; Hong Kong Ballet; Akram Khan and The National Ballet of China; Ballett de Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe; Ballett de Niedersachsische Staatstheater Hanover; National Ballet of Portugal; Singapore Dance Theatre; English National Ballet; Rambert Dance Company and Random Dance.

He teaches Professional Ballet at DanceWorks in London and is the Chief Ballet Master for Ballet Black. He is also currently a Ballet Lecturer at London Contemporary Dance School.

Jenna Lee
Jenna was with the English National Ballet for 12 years. As a soloist she performed roles such as The Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Queen of the Willis in Giselle and The Mistress in Manon. This variety of roles within the company, paired with a keen eye for new and diverse culture, has enabled Jenna to explore a variety of different art techniques and styles, and therefore enhancing her choreographic scope. She created many of English National Ballet’s more adventurous small scale dance works. In 2006 Jenna choreographed Ballet Rocks to launch Sky HD. The piece was a Brit packed collaboration, with music by Bloc Party and costumed designed by Giles Deacon. In 2012 she choreographed an advert for Citroën. It features four Arsenal football players and four ballerinas to advertise the new redefined DS5. Jenna is passionate about fusing classical ballet with the unexpected to keep it fresh and current. With this ethos, she has recently collaborated with record breaking human beatboxer Shlomo, to create a new performance piece CONFLUX. It fuses beatboxing, breakdancing and ballet. Her talents got recognized in Dubai and she was commissioned to create a pas de deux for a dance gala. Recently, Jenna left English National Ballet to focus on choreography and her company - JLee Productions, which provides bespoke ballet performances for any event. Jenna has delivered workshops and dance lessons all over the world including the UK, Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing, the Channel Islands and Sardinia.

Nicola Simpson
Nicola started her dance training in Cambridgeshire with John Dowson and then at King Slocombe School of Dance, with further training at The Central School of Ballet in London under the direction of Christopher Gable.  Upon graduation she gained a contract with Northern Ballet (Theatre), performing nationally and internationally, dancing a wide variety of solo and principal roles in the company’s diverse repertoire, including Cathy (Wuthering Heights), Mina (Dracula), Odilia (Swan Lake), Belle (A Christmas Carol), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet).

On retirement Nicola chose to pursue a career in teaching, gaining a distinction on the RAD’s Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma and furthered her education by studying at Trinity Laban in Dance Science. She has taught classical ballet at Trinity Laban, London Studio Centre, The West London School of Dance, Cecchetti Associates and currently teaches at Central School of Ballet, D&B Performing Arts School and The Place's Centre for Advanced Training.

She has choreographed for many school shows, Big Dance 2010 & 2012, and for productions of The Battle of Trafalgar and Widecombe Fair at Cadogan Hall in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She also staged Blue Ball from Christopher Gable’s production of Cinderella for Ballet Central.

Contemporary/Creative Faculty

Nicky Ellis
Nicky Ellis trained at the Arts Educational School, Tring Park and London Contemporary Dance School graduating in 1993. She performed professionally for 15 years with many leading international choreographers including Aletta Collins, Charles Linehan, Martin Lawrance, Laurie Booth and Jasmin Vardimon. Nicky performed at Sadler's Wells’ first ever Breakin’ Convention, and appeared in BBC2’s Dance for Camera film, The Lift. During her professional dance career she was described as ‘mesmeric and fascinating’ by the London Evening Standard, and ‘powerful and stately’ by The Times.

Nicky’s teaching career has spanned over 22 years and ranges from leading BTEC and GCSE dance courses through to training elite level dancers at The Royal Ballet School (White Lodge), Central School of Ballet and Elmhurst Ballet School. She led the Contemporary and Choreography courses at English National Ballet School between 2005 and 2009, with her students winning several international contemporary dance prizes under her tutelage, including The Prix de Lusanne & Beijing International Ballet Competition. Dancing Times declared her a ‘superb teacher’.

Choreographically Nicky has made work for over 20 years. Her first commission was for National Youth Dance Company with Martin Lawrance in 1995. Since then she has gone on to develop her own work and created over 30 commissions across Europe for leading dance schools including Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet School; choreographic credits include: The Southbank Centre's Sound Moves project and a collaboration with designer Simon Costin for the V&A. In 2014 her choreography was selected by English National Ballet dancer Guilherme Menezes as a solo for  ‘Emerging dancer of the year’.

Nicky now divides her time between her Osteopathic practice (she qualified in 2005) and working with the CAT scheme at The Place; she also regularly guest teaches and choreographs around the UK and Europe. Most recently she choreographed for Encore Dance (Tring Park) and was invited to speak at Inspiring Women in Dance at Sadler’s Wells.

Phil Hill
Phil trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and has danced for a wide variety of companies including: Protein (Big Sale), Richard Lord (Duets For Small Spaces), Adventures in Motion Pictures (Cinderella, Swan Lake, Highland Fling and Nutcracker!), Lloyd Newson (Mazzeppa and Ariodante), Aletta Collins (Carmen), Alistair Fish, V-tol (32 Feet per Second per Second, Dansproduktie on Space, Colour and Stamina). He has worked as choreographer on the operas Fantastic Mr Fox in Los Angeles and A Beggar's Opera in Strasbourg. He has taught classes, workshops and run projects for over twenty years, working with ages 5-80 and on all levels. His teaching work has taken him to Belgium, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden. He has choreographed on many youth groups, and worked choreographically with A-level and degree students. Phil bases his workshops around the strength-building elements of contact improvisation and builds work within the group, using it as a foundation for building confidence in performance with an emphasis on dynamics and character. Phil bases his classes around the strength-building elements of Graham and Cunningham techniques, using them as a foundation for building confidence in performance with an emphasis on fluidity and dynamics.

Sarah Miller
Sarah began dancing at The Place at the age of 4, and went on to work with Youth (now Shift). Sarah trained at London Contemporary Dance School, graduating in 2003 with a First Class Honours Degree. She is currently teaching on the Young Dancers Saturday Programme at The Place, and at primary schools in Camden and Hackney. Sarah has worked with Russell Maliphant, Jan de Schynkel and Martin Lawrance and Marguerite Caruana Galizia. She is currently participating in research work with Sarah Blanc and Moxie Brawl.

Pari Naderi
Pari Naderi completed a BA (Hons) degree at Roehampton University followed by a two year course in contemporary dance and choreography at London Contemporary Dance School graduating in 1996. Since then she has danced with Charles Linehan, Javier De Frutos, Gary Lambert and Richard Alston. Pari joined Siobhan Davies Dance in June 2003. Most recently she has been working with Snag. Pari is also professional freelance photographer.

Ihsaan de Banya
Ihsaan was part of the second cohort of students to be inducted onto the The Place's Centre for Advanced Training programme in 2005, and was mentored by many of the faculty still teaching on the programme today. On graduating, Ihsaan continued training at London Contemporary Dance School, during which time he co-choreographed work performed at various venues in the UK and Internationally.

In 2013, Ihsaan became an apprentice dancer with Richard Alston Dance Company, before becoming a full company member the following year. Ihsaan has danced and toured internationally with the company since.

He was also commissioned by The Place to create work for the Companies At Home season, and has recently created work in collaboration with Two Thirds Sky for a curtain raiser at the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton. 

Emily Powell
Emily began her training at The Place’s Centre for Advanced Training programme; she then continued her training in dance at London Contemporary Dance School where she graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) degree. During her time at the School Emily performed works by Richard Alston, Dane Hurst, Jeannie Steele and Lauren Potter.

Emily began her teaching career as an assistant for The Place’s Centre for Advanced Training Programme before going on to teach her own classes. Emily is currently teaching on the degree course at London Studio Centre, youth classes at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, and contemporary classes at The Place’s Centre for Advanced Training.

Emily is also a qualified STOTT Pilates instructor and general gymnastics coach.

Physical Therapy

Nicky Ellis
Nicky's interest in osteopathy evolved during her 15 year career as a professional dancer. She graduated in 2005 from the British College of Osteopathic Medicine and qualified in myofascial dry needling acupuncture in 2012. Nicky now combines running a busy osteopathic practice with lecturing, choreographing and teaching dance, and brings her expertise in dance and movement to her osteopathy practice. Aside from dance, Nicky has experience in climbing, martial arts and circus skills and therefore an understanding and interest in treating movement-related and postural problems. For more information visit

Sofia Ornellas Pinto
Sofia qualified as a physiotherapist in 2009 from the Alcoitão Superior Health School (Portugal) whilst dancing recreationally (RAD Advanced II) and professionally with the Dança Livre Dance Company. She started by working mainly in private practice within the musculoskeletal area both with dancers and the general public.

Looking into further development in sports injury with a focus in dance Sofia completed the MSc in Dance Science at Trinity Laban in 2012, having presented her thesis at the 2013 IADMS Conference (Seattle). Since her graduation, Sofia has written articles Scoliosis in Musicians and Dancers at Clinical Rheumatology, worked with DanceUK’s Healthier Dancer Programme and with the Dance Again Foundation. Sofia now works in the private sector as a senior MSK physiotherapist in central London, at Performers College as a dance specific physiotherapist working with rehabilitation, technique correction and physical assessment and at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a performing arts physiotherapist. Sofia works mainly with manual therapy, myofascial release and motor control retraining and refining within dance technique and everyday life activities. Continuing research in dance, Sofia is now due to present in Hong Kong regarding injury prevalence in the musical theatre student.

Lucy Anderson
Coming soon