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Alison Axford Theatre School was founded in 1995 by principal Alison Axford, who has since been joined by many talented teachers and dancers.

With a passion for teaching dance, Alison has been dancing since the age of four including ballet, tap and modern dance. From our studios in Paignton we offer lessons in all genres of dance and performance, with a family-oriented feeling there are learning and performance opportunities for all students, whether you're a beginner or classically trained.

We organise regular performances both locally and nationally (and even sometimes internationally!), taking part in local festivals and dance contests.

So if you're looking for a dance school in Devon, Alison Axford Theatre School is the place to be!

The Faculty

The Faculty

Alison Axford
Licentiate ISTD Tap, Modern and Jazz specialist | Principal

Alison started dancing at the age of four, attending Ballet and Acrobatic classes, and six years later she won the All England Acrobatic Championships two years running.  Alison also studied Modern, Tap, Greek, Singing, Drama and National.  Having worked her way up through the major exams, she passed her Advanced 2 Tap and Modern with Honours.  Since moving to Devon in 1988, Alison gained her ISTD Associate Diploma in Tap with Distinction and also a Licentiate of the ISTD in Modern.

Over the years, Alison has been very proud to see her school perform locally as well as in London and at Disneyland Paris.  She has continually been thrilled to see many seniors progress on to further dance colleges, building on their success in festivals, excellent exam results and professionally staged bi-annual school shows. "To see my past pupils dance their way onto television, cruise ships, professional dance companies and the West End stage is so satisfying!"  She is very passionate about teaching and thrives on the enjoyment the children feel as they take part.  It is also very rewarding to see her students  progress on to vocational dance schools and moreover secure their future with employment in the arts profession.

Enjoying family life and creating that family atmosphere at the school is what Alison builds her foundations on.  Getting the best out of every pupil, happy in the knowledge that in every lesson every pupil in her classes has gone home having learnt something is what makes teaching so rewarding.

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Jennifer Alvarez ISTD DDI
Modern, Commercial, Vocal and Contemporary specialist

Jennifer started her dancing life at The Alison Axford Theatre School at the tender age of 3 years.  She enjoyed immense exam and festival successes (indeed still holds the record for the highest mark in Gold Jazz!).  She went on to win the All England Festival finals in Modern at the age of 14.

After leaving Miss Axford’s School Jennifer attended Laine Theatre Arts in London where she studied for three years in Dance and Musical Theatre graduating with a National Diploma.

Upon graduation Jennifer was employed by Peel Entertainment and was performing on board their ships for 4 years.  Starting of as dancer then progressing on to singer/dancer after her first year.  She was then very quickly appointed Dance Captain on all of her contracts.

Jennifer then secured a post with Celebrity Cruises for 1 year under the umbrella of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  Once again she was appointed Dance Captain and enjoyed every moment.  On board the Celebrity Infinity is where she met her husband Pablo. Jennifer was keen to further her qualifications and gain her teaching exams in the ISTD.  She now specialises in Modern and Contemporary but has a true gift and passion for teaching any genre.  She was determined to come back to the dance school that gave her that desire to dance so that she can pass on her passion and guidance to every one of you. 

Jennifer is thrilled to have now started her little family with Pablo and was overjoyed to welcome little Giovanni into the world on February 4th 2020. She looks forward to introducing her little Gio to her dancing family here, as she begins to juggle her dancing life with being a new mummy. She wouldn't want it any other way. 

RAD ballet and Contemporary specialist

Amy has danced from the age of 4 and began her training with Geraldine Lamb Dance School, learning Ballet, Tap and Modern. She then went on to train professionally at Stella Mann College in Bedford from the age of 16. 

After graduating in 2009 Amy danced in a variety of contracts both in this country and abroad and spent 6 months in Mumbai dancing in Bollywood films and videos. Because of a recurring ankle injury Amy’s dance career was cut sort and she focused her attention on becoming a teacher. 

Ballet has always been her passion and in 2017 she attained her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies with the Royal Academy of Dance and has Registered Teachers Status allowing her to enter students for RAD ballet exams. 

Amy is also a level 3 Early Years Practitioner and has trained in Paediatric First Aid and Safeguarding and has enhanced DBS clearance. 

Amy is very pleased to be part of the AAX team and can’t wait to start back. x

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Samantha Farrow ISTD DDE
ISTD Ballet, Modern, Tap and Zumba specialist

Sam began her dance training at the age of 3 at the Gaynor Walter School of Dance where she attained outstanding exam results over the years up to Advanced 2 level. Sam performed in many local shows and festivals and was a finalist in national competitions including the Janet Cram Awards and the Imperial Ballet Awards. 

Sam completed her DDI and DDE teaching qualifications at the Deborah Bond Dance Academy and has been teaching Tap Modern Ballet and Jazz since 2005. In 2012 Sam received a grant to become a Zumba Fitness Instructor, to encourage more people to get active in her local area and she has been successfully running classes ever since. Zumba is a fun easy to follow Latin inspired exercise class, combining world rhythms such as Salsa, Reggae and Merengue.  

Sam is passionate about sharing her love of dance and helping her students to achieve their goals. She is very excited to be joining the AAX team. When she isn't teaching, Sam adores spending time with her two little boys Charlie and Henry. 

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Jessica Mason ISTD DDI
Street, Vocal, Audition and Performance specialist

Jessica is a professional performer, having graduated from D&B School of Performing Arts with a Musical Theatre Diploma in 2011.

She started her dance training with the Alison Axford Theatre School at 13 years of age, which was quite late compared to most of her peers. However, her passion for performance, particularly musical theatre, soon developed and she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the profession. She attended as many classes as she possibly could in all genres of dance, and took lots of dance exams, working her way up through the grades in order to develop her technique. She also joined local amateur dramatic groups to ensure that she developed her skills and experience in all aspects of performance.

Jessica has been working professionally for nearly nine years, having recently completed her fourth contract with Celebrity Cruises. She has travelled the world and performed in some fantastic shows as Dance Captain, Singer/Dancer and Speciality Vocalist.

Jessica was also lucky enough to work with an Olivier Award winning choreographer and BAFTA nominated film director in the UK Arena Tour of ‘Street of Dreams’ the Musical, working with some of the best creatives and professionals in the entertainment industry, including Paul O’Grady, Russell Watson and Julie Goodyear.

Jessica has also been fortunate enough to work and live in Macau, a beautiful island close to Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore whilst performing in different shows.

As well as her stage, musical, cruise, short film and voice over credits, she has also appeared on screen in various well known dramas including Mr Selfridge, Endeavour and The Royal.

Jessica is extremely passionate about her craft and not only does she love to perform, but she also enjoys sharing her experiences with others and helping them to understand and learn different styles and genres of dance and performance.

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Guest Teacher

Jo trained with Ann Lovell and Pamela de Waal before moving to London to study at the Royal Ballet School.  Before starting at the school she had won the All England young dancer of the year and the ISTD young dancer of the year.

Whilst studying at the Royal Ballet School she won the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Competition and the John Field Memorial Award and went on a national tour with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  Injuries put a stop to a dancing career after that, so she qualified to teach both RAD ballet and ISTD modern and tap. 


She began working at some of London's top dance schools; Arts Educational Schools London (for 10 years) and Performers College, as well as cover teaching at Urdang, Elmhurst and Italia Conti Associates.

She also worked extensively as a choreographer for the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain, Surrey Youth Ballet and The Place.

Miles Hoare
Guest teacher & choreographer

Miles has a wealth of experience on the professional stage as well as behind the scenes as a choreographer.  He has worked all over the world and it is so humbling to know that as a past pupil of mine, he is really keen to come back and work on festival dances at ground level again.     


He often makes time to take some guest classes here at the studios and is very keen to become more involved in creating festival work in the summer months during his less busy times.

Richard Chappell
Guest teacher and choreographer

Richard, now director of his own contemporary dance company, and a wealth of professional experience, is very keen to help out with festival work for his former dance school at our studios. 


Richard’s forte is contemporary although he is a very talented young man and can put his hand to various different genres.  He has recently been working in Germany with a new piece he has created, but has happily agreed to be available for creating festival work when he regularly visits home.

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