Superarts Academy has been teaching budding ballerinas and tenacious tap dancers for more than 45 years from its Larcom Street home, just off Walworth Road.
Founded in 1962 by principal Irene Hayes, the much-loved performing arts school is known locally as Rene’s, or Rene’s Dance School, after Irene.
Described by its members as ‘Southwark’s best-kept secret’, because of its unassuming location at St John’s Centre, many of the school’s graduates have gone on to perform in major West End shows such as Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Oliver.
Irene’s love of dancing was apparent from a young age and she took her first dance class at just three years old. That passion has been passed on to her Superarts students, of which there have been thousands over the past five decades, many from the local community. Some have even returned as teachers to train the next generation of dancers.
At 85 years old, Irene is still a familiar face at the school and in the community, but the day-to-day running of the academy has been handed over to her choreographer daughter, Susan, who took her first dance lesson at the age of five. This inspired Irene to open her own, part-time school and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elephant Park worked with Susan on Elephant’s Got Talent earlier this year, a summer-long competition looking for the best and most talented people around the Elephant & Castle area.
Superarts Academy offers 23 sessions a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays after school, and on Saturdays, with classes in ballet, street, tap and modern musical theatre.
It is based at St John’s Centre, 64 Larcom Street, SE17 1NQ. Visit www.superarts.co.uk