Boost from Strictly fuels new Edinburgh acting and dance academy


By Rory Reynolds

A NEW stage and dance school to fuel the next generation of Scots stars is to be founded – Strictly for hopefuls who are looking for Fame.

The new MGA Academy of Performing Arts has been given the go ahead to base its new school in Edinburgh after the demand for their teaching rocketed due to reality TV shows.

MGA are expecting to be bombarded by young hopefuls looking to learn their trade from the academy’s glittering staff members, which includes award-winning TV and stage stars, directors, Robbie Williams’ choreographer and a Girls Aloud dancer.

Andrew Gowland, co-principal at MGA, said that they school has been received a huge increase in applicants – especially from males – since reality TV dancing shows took off.

The 28-year-old said: “We’ve been going for five years and when we started we had 90 per cent female 10 per cent male.

“There’s been a huge change since then.


“Now about 20 of the 50 involved with our new production are male, and in other classes we get boys aged five, six, and seven, who are saying that they want to dance like they’ve seen on TV.

“Some of them even come from football training to their dance classes – I don’t think we ever thought we’d see that.

“The level of interest has at least doubled. The shows that you see on TV have really opened it up.

“It’s a really big boost for us, and it’s made it possible for us to found the new site.”

MGA are still deciding whether to base the school on Abbey Lane, not far from the Scottish Parliament, or at a new location near to Heriot-Watt University, but have received the go ahead from Edinburgh City Council this week on both sites.

The firm already offer courses to around 130 students, ranging from five-year-olds taking beginners classes to post-graduates looking to specialise in a particular form of acting of dancing.


The academy currently uses theatres in the Edinburgh area, including the Brunton and Churchill theatres to teach its students.

But they say that the demand for courses since shows like Strictly Come Dancing took off has left them needing a dedicated school.

The MGA say they are well equipped to teach up and coming youngsters, counting some of the best dancers, actors, and producers among their staff.

Andrew won the Ian Fleming Musical Theatre Award four years ago, and has worked in the US, while co-founder Murray Grant has worked on music videos for Robbie Williams, as well as on productions in Vienna.

Their teachers include Tamlyn Platts, who has appeared in Footballers Wives and About a Boy, while Belgian colleague Arthur Gourounlian is currently touring with Girls Aloud.


Andrew added: “At the moment we are still looking at two possible sites but one way or another we’re opening in September.

“We get a lot of people who are looking to go to London in a year’s time and want to prepare, or people who might not have got in this year but will next year.

“MGA also have our casting agency branch in London, so we have excellent contacts with producers and directors on many of the most exciting productions.

“We’ve combined the steadiest industry in the world, education, with one of the fastest growing, the entertainment industry.

“And the West End took more money than ever before last year – and we’re supposed to be in a recession – so we’ve no worries about getting people interested in acting and dancing.”