Staff Profiles

Elaine Milbourne

Elaine Milbourne

I established the Elaine Milbourne Performing Arts School (EMPAS) in 1980 (formerly Elaine Milbourne Theatre Dance School) and developed it from a couple of nights a week in a community centre offering dance classes into a full performing arts centre operating seven days a week offering all aspects of performance as we do today.

I am very passionate about the performing arts and always maintain the highest standards in behaviour and teaching. The team of teaching professionals who work with me all have the highest level of expertise and range of skills to bring out the best in all of our pupils. Seeing pupils develop their individuality and ability is a pleasure to see as is the increased confidence and teamwork pupils gain from attending the EMPAS.

I am a lifetime member of the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) after over 40 years of membership and I am currently treasurer of the IDTA Tyneside area. I have taught dance in the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne for over 40 years and feel the IDTA syllabus offers an excellent training in all areas of dance and musical theatre. The syllabuses are updated regularly the work is always very topical and challenging.

Amy Nicholson

Being Elaine’s daughter I have danced with the school since being 3 years old, and have trained in all theatre subjects up to an advanced level. I have performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London and DisneyLand Paris as well as taking part in numerous shows, amateur dramatic performances and competitions over my youth.

As well as teaching at the school, I also work in the office helping with all aspects of the business. I am a fully qualified member of the IDTA having completed my Level 4 Diploma in Dance Teaching as well as my pre-associate qualifications and my IDTA Anatomy and Physiology Diploma. I am also trained in Paediatric First Aid and I have my safeguarding certificate.

Being part of EMPAS has and always will be a huge part of my life, I love teaching the talented children at the school and achieving a high standard of results as well as having fun!

Elena Davidson

Elena has danced from a young age and moved to EMPAS when she was 12. As well as training at EMPAS, Elena attended Renaissance Arts in Leeds as part of their Scholars programme.

In 2017 Elena became the IDTA Theatre Craft Grades Winner at the IDTA Theatre Awards as well as receiving various nominations and commendations over the years. She then went on to be the Tyne & Wear IDTA Elsa Wilkin’s Senior Bursary overall winner and was later scouted to be part of Lukas McFarlane’s SEEDS Season 2 in London. In 2018, Elena starred in David Walliam’s ‘Gangsta Granny’ at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Elena then went on to study Applied Sport Science with Coaching at Northumbria University, followed by a Masters Degree in Digital Marketing. Throughout University she became a prominent figure in the Northstars Cheerleading Team and in her third year became Dance Captain. She has choreographed very successful routines for their squad in pom, hip hop and lyrical and in March 2022 they became ICC Grand Champions.

Elena is a BGU qualified coach in pom, jazz, lyrical and hip hop and has recently completed her IDTA Level 4 Teaching Diploma in Contemporary Modern Jazz achieving a high Distinction. In 2023, Elena placed 3rd Place in the prestigious Barbara Sharple’s International Choreographic Award. We are thrilled to have Elena ‘back home’ and teaching at EMPAS!

Alex Mitchinson

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After graduating from Laine Theatre Arts Alex worked as a dancer in Musical Theatre, TV, Film and as a commercial dancer and model for 12 years. Her credits include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- Beaux Baton Student, Miss Perigrine’s School for Peculiar Children – Contemporary dancer for C.G.I. motion caption, Take That – dancer, Gulliver’s Travels – dancer, The Duchess – dancer and dance coach to Kiera Knightly, Ryvita Commercial -Fern Britton’s body, The Charlotte Church Show – dancer, Thomson Holidays Musical Revue – Resident Choreographer, Thursford Christmas Show – Dancer and Swing dancer, to name but a few. Since then Alex has moved into teaching and Choreography, working with the Ballet Lorent company, Northumbria University, Dance City, and delivering Lyrical, Ballet, Tap and Contemporary workshops throughout the North East region. Alex loves being part of the EMPAS team and teaching the talented and hard working students.

Sofi Johnson

Sofi trained in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Song and Dance, Contemporary, and Commercial from the age of 3 years old with Suzanne Stuart Art of Dance in South Shields. She began competing in Regional and National Festivals, Championships and Scholarships from the age of 6. Sofi performed many times at Newcastle Theatre Royal as a young dancer in the annual pantomimes, as well as in productions such as Annie, Summer Holiday and Copelia. After successfully auditioning for Theatre Colleges at the age of 16, Sofi received offers of 3 Full DADA Scholarships, from these she chose to continue her dance and musical theatre training at The Urdang Academy in London. On completing her training at The Urdang at the age of 19, Sofi began her Professional Singing career. She has since spent much of the past 7 years singing and performing in a musical production shows such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The International Music of the World show in many locations in the UK and around the world, including India (Bollywood), Cyprus, The Canary Islands, Israel and Spain. During this time Sofi also developed an interest in vocal technique and performance skills, and began coaching other young singers, passing on her own vocal knowledge and experience, this soon became a real passion for Sofi. As Sofi continues to work in the entertainment industry herself she knows how important correct vocal technique and care of the voice is to maintain longevity for young singers. Sofi is now based in the UK where she continues her own very busy singing career both as a solo performer and with her own band who have a portfolio of successful corporate event bookings including WorldPay, Barclays and the NHS. Sofi also recently supported up and coming international singer/songwriter James Kirby on his UK tour. Sofi is both honoured and proud to be part of the Elaine Milbourne Performing Arts team.

Luke Fairless

I started training in Musical Theatre with EMPAS at the age of 7, after completely falling in love with the performing arts and everything it is about, I then progressed to training in all dance genres. In 2017, I was scouted by Lukas Mcfarlane at NE Dance Live and began training in London on his SEEDS Programme. At the beginning of 2018, at the age of 14, I was offered a full MDS Scholarship and a boarding place at Tring Park School for Performing Arts and commenced full time study in September 2018. In 2020, I won the IDTA Ken Dodd award in Tap as well as the Tap Performers and Theatre Craft Performers at the IDTA Theatre Dance Awards and was invited to represent the IDTA in the TDCI Scholarships in Performers Ballet & Performers Tap. As of July 2022, I completed my training with Tring Park and received my Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance & Performing Arts.

I am extremely passionate about teaching and choreographing. My work has been showcased in many shows and at festivals. In March 2022, my choreography won the ‘Tring Park Choreographic Competition’. I have now passed my IDTA Level 4 Diploma in Dance Teaching with a high Distinction, which I am over the moon about, and I am currently working towards other teaching examinations in the core theatre subjects. I am super excited to be back at EMPAS, but this time as a teacher! I love working with the students as they are all so hard working and passionate about their dance training, which as their teacher, so am I!

Other Teachers

Gemma Nichol – Acro