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Big Brother Winner Craig Phillips and Metro Mayor open community based ‘Connect Studios’ in Seaforth

5 years ago

Big Brother Winner Craig Phillips and Metro Mayor open community based ‘Connect Studios’ in Seaforth

Connect Studios formally known as CDA ( Connect Dance Academy) was established in Nov 2018 by Kelly Phillips & Michael Skelly.

Both born & bred in Seaforth Kelly & Michael lived doors from each other in Beech Grove, both coming from working class families.

They developed a strong bond, encouraging each other’s passion for dance & performing. Their passion soon became a reality in a chosen career for them both. Michael has a PGCE in Further Education & graduated from the University of Cumbria with a BA Honours in Dance & Musical Theatre. He is currently studying an MA in Business Management at the University of Liverpool.

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Kelly graduated from Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) shortly after completing her Dance & Performing Arts diploma at Southport College, with further training at Phil Winstons Stage School. Kelly & Michael quickly established themselves in the performing arts world, both securing professional dance contracts worldwide as far as Australia India & America.

After many successful years working abroad Kelly & Michael found themselves back home. They both shared the same dream of wanting to offer affordable professional dance classes to local children, as when they were growing up classes were sadly unaffordable for both families –  however both Kelly & Michael’s commitments were rewarded as children they received scholarships from Liverpool WAC ( Weekend Arts College).

Sharing the same drive passion & ambition they complimented each other perfectly. This was quickly picked up on by local parents & children attending the classes at Rimrose Hope primary school. They soon outgrew the school and as demand was high, waiting lists grew longer. No other Dance School in the local area was offering such a low cost varied genre of Dance & Musical Theatre classes. So within 18 months Connect Dance Academy was booming. For the first time ever children were being offered scholarships in the local area which was an important part of Kelly & Michaels business plan to give back to their local community.

With fantastic reviews & the business growing from strength to strength, Kelly & Michael soon realised they needed a studio of their own. After months of hard work & commitment Connect Studios officially opened on the 1st Sept.

Knowing their tight schedule, the studio had to be ready for their School Summer Camps and the pressure was growing. The parents, children & the local community all pulled together raising money to be able to afford this and with no local funding available, Kelly & Michael have had to fundraise themselves with the full support of local businesses and parents, with many giving up their time & making donations.

Both Kelly & Michael have been overwhelmed by the strong community spirit of Seaforth, and this is a great example of a community coming together and uniting, alongside with their belief in Kelly & Michaels vision for the Studios and the future of their community.

Now Connect Studios is reaching out into the local community in lots of different ways. They recently housed a summer camp with over a 150 children attending for less than £40 per week per child, saving families hundreds of pounds on childcare. Again there was no funding available with Kelly & Michael wanting to show their gratitude and offer this affordable childcare.

Looking back over Kelly & Michaels lives, Kelly was severely dyslexic and bullied throughout her school days. Michael was overweight and was told he would never be able to have a career in the dance industry. All this aside they have proved all the doubters wrong, with a continuous hard work ethic, passion & self belief and surrounding themselves by the right people, their dreams have now become a reality.

Offering much more than just dance, Connect Studios will change the face of Seaforth. Kelly tuned into yoga & meditation to help with her journey and Michael educated himself on nutrition seeking a more balanced & healthy lifestyle, realising the importance and the positive effect it can have. Kelly & Michael realise their potential as role models for younger children in the area wanting to offer so much more than just dance!

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Connect Studios is not just a dance studio it is now a health & well-being centre at the heart of a community, creating a space where children & adults feel safe to express themselves and pursue their dreams & aspirations.

Connect Studios is offering every genre of dance, ISTD exams in ballet tap & modern, boys hip hop, singing & drama, musical theatre adult yoga, mum & baby yoga massage classes and loads more.

They currently employ 10 part-time staff members and are looking to expand even more in the near future. You can call into their coffee shop anytime with healthy juices, food plans & snacks available Mon-Sat.

Find out more about their story and Connect Studios by visiting their website here.

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