Lindsay first realised her passion for dance when studying GCSE Contemporary at the age of 14; after this time she went onto train at Italia Conti Associate, Sussex Downs College and for a year at Laban to study Contemporary Dance in more depth. She qualified with Urban Strides in 2013 and holds a Level 4 Associate Diploma in Performing Arts. Lindsay is one of a number of acredited Street Dance teachers in the UK.
Lindsay and Jess founded Universal Dance in 2011 and act as Artisitc Directors and teachers within the company. Lindsay excels in teaching Street Dance technique and is well known for her high energy classes & inspiring choreography in this style. She is also a British Cheerleading Association Coach, qualified ETM, Bokwa & Zumba Instructor & Arts Award Advisor, able to deliver Bronze & Silver awards to 11-25 year olds.
"Dance isn’t about having the perfect technique or body type, it’s about passion, individuality
and being the one who stands out on stage - we all need to THINK LESS & DANCE MORE!"
Artistic Director, Street Dance & Fitness Specialist, Events Manager &
Street Crew Leader
Jess has been dancing since the age of 3 years old; having trained in GCSE & A’Level Dance she then graduated from Chichester University in 2006 with a BA Honours in Dance and now acts as Artistic Director, teacher and education specialist within the company. Jess has been Head of Dance at Lewes Old Grammar School since 2009 and delivers dance to Keystage 3, GCSE & A'Level students.
Jess has been teaching dance for nearly twenty years and tries to fuse together styles which aim to motivate and inspire her audiences, bringing together experience in a variety of contemporary techniques. Throughout her dance career she has danced for 3Fall, MAp & C0mpany Ben Abbes, toured freelance educational projects into over 50 schools in the South East and co-produced a number of dance & site-specific productions in the local area.
Under the Universal Dance timetable Jess works as Education Specialist teaching dance to children & other teachers alike.Through Jess, Universal Dance delivers the Sports Leaders UK Level 2 Dance Leadership qualification and the NATD contemporary dance syllabus and exams. Jess has a diploma in Fitness and Nutrition, is a qualified ETM, Bokwa, Zumba & Indoor Cycling instructor, holds a current DBS & is a certified chaperone & first aider. She is also an Arts Award Advisor able to deliver the Discover and Explore, Bronze, Silver & Gold Arts Award to 7-25 year olds. For more information on the Arts Award, please visit www.artsaward.org.uk.
“Dance to me is by far the most beautiful means of expression and through this we communicate a language and allow our souls to dream”
Artistic Director, Schools & Early Years Dance Education Specialist, Level 2 CCM, Arts Award Advisor, Party Co-ordinator & Contemporary YDC Leader
Claire has been daincing since she was 2 years old. Beginning with Cechetti training in South Africa where she was born, moving onto imperial classical training when she moved to Eastbourne aged 10.
She studied intermediate ballet as a teenager and complemented her ballet training with an A level in contemporary dance from Sussex Downs College. She went on to study dance at degree level and graduated from Middlesex University with BA Honours in Dance. Claire based her studies on dance education and choreography and has experience in teaching children from 2 upwards and young adults with learning difficulties. Having taken a break to travel and work abroad in Hong Kong and South Africa for several years. Claire now has many dance qualifications to her name including DDI, DDE, ISTD, IDTA Associate and most recently IDance and Progressing Ballet Technique, the latter of which she teaching within her ballet, contemporary and YDC classes. Claire also holds her own DBS and is a qualified Chaperone and First Aider.
Youth Dance Artist & ISTD Ballet Specialist
Lorraine has been working professionally in the performing arts and teaching, choreographing and performing for over 20 years. She has worked professionally in all three fields all over the world.
She has worked in West End Musical Theatre, Opera, television and performed with various dance companies, performing and choreographing commercially for trade shows, dance videos and film. She is a teacher of Jazz dance, Lindy Hop, Tap, Street Dance, Contemporary and Body Percussion. She has studied Classical Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, various Jazz techniques including Matt Mattox and Horton, Lindy Hop, African, National Dance including Flamenco, Street Dance and also Drama. Lorraine has been working off and on for the past 14 years with the international sensation STOMP as a performer and rehearsal director. Lorraine is also a member of STOMP's Lost and Found Orchestra. Lorraine joined the Universal Dance teaching team in 2015.
Dance & Drama Teacher
‘I am thrilled that my daughter has had the opportunity to benefit from this experience.
Universal Dance are inspiring these kids with so many great experiences and should be very proud’ Mother of 12yr+ Universal Dancer
‘We live what we teach’ – Lindsay Willis
Steph started her training in Eastbourne both as a dancer and singer studying a wide variety of styles: Ballet, Modern, Tap, Commercial, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Classical Greek and Latin/Ballroom. She is also a trained singer again having studied a wide variety of genres but has a real passion for Musical Theatre.
Steph's career has ranged from working in Theatre, Commercials & Presenting; some of her credentials include performing on Beyoncé's promotional tour 100 Single Ladies and as a dancer for Harlequins at Twickenham.
Alongside working with Universal Dance Steph runs her own Princess Parties Company and also trains in Kickboxing and self defence Martial arts, which she teaches to adults and young children.
Youth Theatre Teacher
& Singing Coach
Helen has been dancing since she was 3 years old and studied Ballet, Tap, Classical Greek, Jazz, Modern and Contemporary at Redhurst School of Dance.
Whilst studying dance she competed in festivals across Sussex as well as attending the Kent Youth Ballet Company and had the privilege to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. At a young age Helen had a passion for choreography and entered the Classic Greek National Choreography Competition and won with her group.
Her passion grew from dance into musical theatre and since the age of eight, Helen has performed in many musicals and pantomimes across Sussex as well as choreographing many shows including Annie at the Hawth Theatre and starring as the lead; Ensign Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. Helen has recently directed and choreographed musical reviews which gave young performers a chance to perform West End and Broadway musical numbers and help encourage their confidence and passion within the musical world!
Helen is really excited to be joining the team and is ready to bring a spark of musical magic to Universal Dance!
Lucy-Jo has been dancing since a young age, training in commercial dance, ballet and fitness. Alongside dancing outside of school, she also studied Dance at GCSE and BTEC level.
After leaving Haywards Heath College, Lucy-Jo went on to train at Chichester University where she graduated with a BA Honours in Dance in 2017. Whilst Lucy-Jo enjoys many styles of dance, she has a particular passion for contemporary dance and preschool sessions. Lucy joined the Universal Dance team as a dance and party teacher in September 2018.
Natasha O'Brian Thodsen
Ballet Class Assistant
Natasha is one of Universal Dance’s HED:Strong members and has been training in contemporary with us for last two and a half years. Natasha also has much experience in various other styles of dance and regularly competes with her dance partner across the country in ballroom styles of dance.
Natasha works as a class assistant in our weekly dance classes at Lewes Old Grammar School and is currently working towards both her Gold Arts Award and Level 2 Dance Leadership qualification. Natasha holds a current DBS and is first aid qualified.
If you would like to hear more about our work experience programmes, contact Jess or Lindsay for details.
Olivia Lewis is one of Universal Dance's longest standing members. Having danced with both Graffiti and HED:Strong in her six years with the company, she now teaches our weekly Senior Commercial in Maresfield.
Olivia is currently studing A level dance at Sussex Downs College in Lewes and was part of the competition crew that won Graffiti first place at The Six Nations in Wales in November 2017. Olivia has also passed her Grade 4 NATD Contemporary exam and is now enjoying passing on her broad knowledge of dance to younger students as both teacher of commercial dance and technique teacher for HED:Strong.
Ellen Gaine has been dancing since a young age in a variety of styles including Tap, Jazz, Modern, Street, Contemporary and Ballet, but her passion really took flight while undertaking A'level Dance.
While at Brighton University training to be a Physiotherapist she joined the cheer squad and helped Brighton Panthers secure 2nd place in the 2010 Regional’s followed by 1st place in the 2011 Nationals. Ellen works full time as a Physiotherapist but also continues to develop her passion in dance by leading Street Dance and Cheerleading parties for UD. Ellen has been a Global girl since Universal Dance was established and continues to look forward to the annual Uckfield carnival and other dance projects. Ellen says that when she hears a new song she struggles to keep still and ends up dancing around her house or creating new pieces in her head!
Dance Teacher /