ABERDEEN Academy of Performing Arts (AAPA), the granite city’s dance, acting and musical theatre school, secured a gold award at the Dance School of the Year Awards. The ceremony took place on Friday 29th October in Devon and attracted worldwide finalists from schools of all sizes and genres.
Now in its ninth year, the awards were developed to celebrate the often overlooked achievements of dance schools, their teachers and their students – and 2021 was a record-breaking year for entries.
Rachel Mearns, principal and owner/director at AAPA, said: “I’m absolutely delighted! I never enter awards, but I went for it this time to recognise my team; the people who are the backbone of my business; those who keep it going and growing. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Rachel continues: “I entered on a last-minute whim with just 20 minutes to spare and had just 200 words to convince the panel of industry experts that our policies, procedures, risk assessments, training, promotion, and highly-qualified and experienced staff were of an award-winning level.
“It sounded impossible, but I realised it was simple. I wrote that we should win because of the incredible AAPA team who got us through the pandemic and out the other side. We’re now back on track and ready to pick up where we left off two years ago, all because of them.”
Anne Walker MBE, a former dance teacher and now a business mentor and author, created the awards. She said: “Dance teachers should be applauded and celebrated. So much more than just a teacher – they are almost a substitute parent to many of their students. They are role models, mentors and social workers, offering support, stability and a disciplined approach to life.
Rachel agrees: “Dance teachers provide so much more than just a dance lesson. It’s about offering support and discipline; teaching young people how to work as part of a group that relies on each other.
“The pandemic has underlined this as dance teachers across the globe – ourselves at AAPA included – took to tech to support their students’ mental and physical wellbeing while staying at home was essential.”