Sophie Huntley- Principal


Sophie Huntley trained at the highly regarded Deborah Lamb Theatre school from the age of 9, completing her ISTD vocational dance exams in Modern, Tap, Jazz and RAD examinations in Ballet. Whilst training, she had many performance opportunities in Professional Pantomimes in Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells, Performances at West End Theatres with the “Young Performers Production” and “Mardi Gras Challenge”, on board the MSC Armonia cruise ship for five evening performances and many annual shows and festivals.

Following her completion of A Levels she then went on to study at Performers College in Essex on a 1 year foundation course. She studied a range of different dance styles and received training in acting and singing as well. After completing this course Sophie was accepted onto 4 different Musical Theatre courses at professional colleges. She received sponsorship from the Lionel Bart Foundation to pursue her teachers training.

Choosing to pursue a teaching career Sophie is a member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has completed her Diploma in Dance Education for Modern Theatre, Tap and Imperial Ballet under the tuition of Deborah Lamb. Sophie has a full DBS check and is first aid trained. 

She currently works at many local dance schools in the Sussex area teaching a variety of ages from 2 years- 18years.  She established SLH Dance Academy in September 2014 and since opening many of Sophie’s students have gained brilliant examination results under her tuition and she has a 100% pass rate of students entered in for exams with many achieving high distinctions and merits.

Ellie Gainsford

(ISTD Modern Theatre, Ballet and Lyrical Teacher)

Ellie trained from the age of 3 in both dance and musical theatre, getting a BA (Hons) at a professional Drama School in Guildford. Performing is her biggest passion and she is gaining her associate in the ISTD modern faculty, to further her education in dance & continue to train young dancers.  

She is a fantastic choreographer and particularly enjoys working with pupils on choreography towards festivals and competitions. Ellie has a great way with pupils of all ages and is a very versatile teacher who encourages and inspires. She loves teaching pupils at SLH and is excited to continue building the popular lyrical classes that she has brought to the school and meeting lots more new faces! She is also very excited to use her training in DDE Modern this term with our youngest and oldest modern classes!

Laura Manvell

(ISTD Modern Theatre, Ballet and Tap Teacher)

Laura trained at the Deborah Lamb Theatre Arts from a young age where she completed her ISTD Modern and Tap exams to Advanced 2 Level and RAD Ballet to Intermediate. She has performed in many pantomimes for Jordan Productions and has many years of teaching experience in various dance and primary schools across Sussex. She is a qualified ISTD teacher and holds her DDE in Ballet, Tap and Modern Theatre.

Over her many years of teaching she has successfully entered pupils into ISTD examinations of all different levels with her pupils gaining excellent results of merit and distinctions in all genres. She is well loved by all the pupils she teaches and has a fantastic way of getting the very best out of each student whilst maintaining a fun, nurturing and positive environment!

We love having Laura on the SLH teaching team and she is excited to be covering Miss Sophie’s Monday classes whilst she is on maternity leave.

Katie Fletcher

(Ballet and Pre-School Teacher)

Katie Fletcher trained at the Arts Educational School, Tring and Central School of Ballet, London before starting her professional career with the Northern Ballet Theatre. She enjoyed performing with the company under the directorship of Christopher Gable. Some of her favourite productions to perform were Romeo and Juliet, Simple Man, Cinderella and Christmas Carol. Having toured with the company for several years Katie progressed into musical theatre playing lead roles in the West End productions of Phantom of the Opera, Grease plus National Tours and fringe theatre. Katie is also a qualified Montessori Teacher and Child Counsellor. She has taught for various arts organizations within schools and theatre workshops. She currently teaches her own adult ballet classes alongside teaching children dance within dance schools in Brighton and Hove and is delighted to be a part of SLH Dance Academy!

Star Bray

(Musical Theatre teacher)

Star Bray trained at the Chichester Conservatoire, gaining a First BA Hons in Musical Theatre and an extra specialism in Arts Management.

After graduating 5 years ago, she opened her own singing school Starring Vocals, based at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne and resumed her senior teaching position at The Trapdoor Theatre School where she has taught for the last 11 years.

Star has worked on several creative and performance contracts in the south for companies such as Goat & Monkey and By The Sea Productions, whilst simultaneously choreographing and vocal coaching for local groups such as LOSMT, The Rattonians and The Hippodrome Youth Community Theatre.

Over the lockdowns, she achieved new qualifications in Vocal Health First Aid, Music Performance Anxiety and Makaton which have all been proving very useful when guiding children and young adults.

Star feels most at home when teaching and loves the variety and support she can give to the earlier stages of the Performing Arts world.

Having fallen in love with Lewes back in 2012 when she studied Performing Arts at Lewes 6th Form, she made home here at the beginning of 2022 and starting to work within this community is a dream come true.

Charlotte Walker

(ISTD Ballet, Tap, Modern Maternity Cover Teacher)

Charlotte started dancing when she was 3 and performing has always been her greatest passion in life. She trained  in Sussex as a child and when she was 18 she began her training at London Studio Centre,  graduating in 2019 with a BA Hons in Theatre Dance (Jazz). During her time at LSC she was accepted for a mentorship programme and flew to LA to train at Millennium Dance Centre. She started teaching and working as an assistant choreographer during her degree training and fell in love with it- she now works as a freelance professional dancer, teacher and yoga instructor, and is currently completing her ISTD DDE in Ballet, Modern and Tap. She has also recently completed her 200hr yoga teacher qualifications. 

Charlotte is really looking forward to covering Miss Sophie’s Tuesday classes whilst she is on maternity leave and getting to know the SLH pupils!

Lauren Woods

(Saturday Ballet Maternity Cover Teacher)

Lauren trained and now teaches part time at the Deborah Lamb Theatre Arts School. During her time as a student she also trained at the prestigious The Royal Ballet School and performed in local professional pantomimes and The Tales of Beatrix Potter at the Royal Opera house. She made her west end debut as one of the “ballet girls” in Billy Elliot the Musical which was an amazing achievement at such a young age.

At 16 she went on to study at The Centre Performing Arts College for three years, achieving a Diploma in Theatre as a 2020 graduate. After graduating she focused on her teaching studies and taught workshops and classes in person and online during the various lockdowns. She is now currently in the process of completing her DDE modern and tap with the ISTD.

She has recently returned from Paris where she worked as a Parade Performer at Disneyland Paris and is now really looking forward to joining the Saturday SLH team whilst her former teacher Sophie takes maternity leave!

Want to be part of our hard working and friendly team that are passionate about all things dance and performing?

If this sounds like you then we would LOVE to chat further! Drop us an email on if you are interested in working for SLH Dance Academy