Incredibly  MADD!  

Susan Elkin took a virtual tour around the wide array of courses on offer at the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama, Nottingham.

In 1967 Frances Clayton founded the Midlands Academy of Dance & Drama (known affectionately as ‘MADD’) to provide dance classes for children and young people in Nottingham. She is still its principal. 

Today it operates as both a part-time and a full-time college. In 1988, when the school was 21 years old, a Three Year Musical Theatre Diploma Course was developed. This is now accredited by the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT) and validated to deliver the Level 6 Professional Musical Theatre by Trinity College, London. It can be topped up to a BA Hons (Performing Arts) at any time during the college graduate’s performing career.

Beyond that, there’s a lot going on. Also on offer at MADD are a Three Year Professional Dance Diploma Course; a One Year Foundation Musical Theatre Diploma Course; a One Year Top-Up Intensive in Musical Theatre Course; and a two year fully-funded BTEC course, Extended Diploma in Screen Acting, in partnership with Confetti the Institute of Creative Technologies (part of Nottingham Trent University).

Then there are part-time courses: a Junior School, its pre-vocational school in Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre for 3 to 16 year olds; a Teacher Training in Dance at Level 4 with the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) qualifications, which are recognised by Ofqual; and annual Summer Schools for 7-11 (Junior School) and 12-18 (Senior School) year olds.

“MADD is a vibrant college… where being true to yourself and embracing life matters as much as a strong technique.”

MADD is based in Carlton Hill, a leafy Nottingham suburb. In addition to the 5000 sq ft headquarter facilities, the college has a 15,500 sq ft building opposite known as ‘The Factory’. This space also houses the 168-seat MADD Studio Theatre. The Factory is also home to the ‘Nottingham Community Wardrobe’ which houses one of the biggest collections of theatrical costumes in the East Midlands with over 30,000 garments to choose from.

So who teaches all this? Thirty members of staff whose expertise is supplemented by guest practitioners from across the industry including directors, choreographers, playwrights, casting directors and agents. 

“Nottingham is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, diverse and friendly city steeped in history with a dynamic and ever-growing cultural offering” observes MADD’s website, eloquently making the case for training well away from the expense and limitations of, say, London.

And the college is clearly successful in developing lots of talented performers who go on to work professionally at the highest levels. MADD graduates have worked in shows such as Six, Les Misérables, Billy Elliot, The Lion King and many more.

In normal times, moreover, MADD’s graduate year heads to London to present a showcase to an invited audience of the sector’s agents, casting directors and choreographers, and every summer the college performs its annual Gala Showcase at the Nottingham Playhouse. Sadly the pandemic has meant that things have had to be done differently this year.

The good news, however, is that since the government’s announcement that dance studios could reopen from July 25, MADD planned to reopen for its part-time students on 5 September and to restart its full-time courses on 10 September. All arrangements for classes, teaching, and use of the buildings will adhere strictly to government guidelines.

And it isn’t too late to apply. MADD has (at the time of writing) vacancies to start in September 2020 for its One Year Foundation course, Three Year Musical Theatre course and Three Year Dance course.

It isn’t a college which stands still either. Last year three eminent choreographer/directors – Andrew Wright, Tracey Lane and Ryan-Lee Seager – were recruited to form an advisory board to help MADD’s senior leadership team as it seeks to develop the college further.

Commenting on being part of the newly formed MADD College Advisory board, Andrew Wright said: “MADD is a vibrant college full of dedicated and individual students. A college where being true to yourself and embracing life matters as much as a strong technique.”

Tracy Lane added “I am both thrilled and honoured to join the Advisory Board of MADD College. As an ex performer who now constantly works with young people in the arts sector, I look forward to progressing the crucial training, discipline and preparation that MADD continues to offer its students and is necessary for the wider industry.”

Ryan-Lee Seager said: “I have been working with the students at MADD College for almost seven years and love their work ethic, it’s truly infectious! They are a respectful, supportive and talented bunch and it’s always a pleasure coming back and working with them.”

Image by Phil Hitchman