Helen Barton was born in Bangor and lived locally in Holyhead. She began dancing
at the age of 3 years, joining the Holyhead School of Dance, which was then run by
Mrs Mae Thickens, at the request of her doctor as she suffered from asthma! At the
age of 17 she successfully auditioned for a place at the Merseyside Dance and Drama
Centre in Liverpool, which she attended for three years. During her training she
gained all ISTD Advanced 2 dance exams and her Associate (AISTD) teaching qualifications.
Following her graduation she then performed professionally for almost four years,
the world with various dance companies. Helen has performed with a dance group which
toured the UK, and performed in various theatres in Europe. She was lucky enough
to be offered a 6 month post in a theatre in Singapore, followed by 3 months in theatre
in Israel. Helen was then offered a teaching post
at Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre by the principal Miss Gaynor Owen, who is currently
head of the Modern Theatre dance faculty with the ISTD. Here she taught full time
at the centre and children’s evening classes. After gaining teaching experience Helen
her qualifications by gaining her Licentiate Diploma (LISTD) in 1989, passing with
She taught for many happy years before marrying and settling in Holyhead.
After returning to Anglesey, Helen re-opened the Holyhead School of Dance in 1990.
However, after demand for classes continued to grow and the formerly small school
expanded, new branches were opened in Llanfair PG, and Bangor. During her maternity
leave, Helen enlisted the help of Miss Michelle Harper to teach the pupils in her
absence. Following the birth of her daughter Georgia in 1995, Miss Michelle continued
to teach, allowing the school to grow further. The school now boasts branches in
Holyhead, Llanfair PG, Bangor and Llandudno and as a result has now been renamed
“Barton Dance and Drama Academy”.
Helen has taken the school to perform in the West End, performing at The Royal Albert
Hall, London Palladium, Her Majesties Theatre and Sadler’s Wells theatres. The school
has successfully entered competitions, gaining places in finals held at Sadler’s
Wells and the Liverpool Empire, and has
twice won first place in the “Dawns Creuadigol” section of the National Eisteddfod.
have taken part in the prestigious “Janet Cram Awards”, gaining places in the final
The school was invited to perform at Disneyland Paris and Disneyworld Florida, performing
Magic Kingdom at the Fantasyland Theatre, and taking part in master classes with
the Disney cast having rave reviews from the Disney cast and crew. The Academy has
appeared on television many times with “Uned 5” for S4C, the children’s tv programme
“Mas Draw” and on “See Hear Saturday” for the BBC. In 2006 the school performed on
a Mediterranean cruise, performing in the main theatre
of the ship for 7 nights, which was a wonderful experience for all involved.
The Academy has continued to go from strength to strength and Helen now employs three
as well as continuing to teach herself, in order to offer classes to each of the
400+ children and adults
in the school. She is currently the ISTD area organiser for North Wales and is responsible
organising centre exams and courses for the region. In addition to all this, she
is tutoring the sixth form students at Holyhead High School in the dance element
of the new Performing Arts A-Level which the school now offers, as well as teaching
at St Gerards Private School. Helen is a qualified instructor of the new Zumba, Zumbatomic,
Zumbatoning and Bokwa fitness crazes currently sweeping the nation.
Each year the Academy prepares, rehearses and performs a fantastic variety show,
with numbers ranging from ballet and tap, to disco and cheerleading. The Academy
is currently working towards this year’s musical delight which will be held at Venue
Cymru in Llandudno and Holyhead High School.