Remember the heady days of the mid-1990s, when pop bands ruled and we danced to their catchy tunes under the glittering disco balls in nightclubs across the globe? Long before iTunes and Spotify, Lisa Scott-Lee had stars in her eyes, and we can see those same stars twinkling today as she tells us about her pop band Steps’ comeback tour in November and the work of her successful performing arts school, Dubai Performing Arts.
The singer is busying herself with planning the set lists, designing the costumes and auditioning for dancers for the tour, which will see the original five play 22 dates in arenas across the UK and Ireland. “I feel like I lead two lives sometimes. My students are so supportive when I have to fly to the UK to shoot a video, and they love to hear all about my Steps work and learn our dance routines! It’s great to be able to give them an insight into the entertainment industry,” she tells us.
And it was this industry that Scott-Lee fell in love with 20 years ago. Always having had a penchant for performing, the singer and dancer trained at the famous Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, before landing her dream job when she was successful in the Steps audition process. “I feel blessed to be able to love what I do and I gained so much experience over the years, it gave me the inspiration to launch DPA, and give children in Dubai and the UAE the opportunity to learn to sing, dance, act and perform,” she says.
Her students at the DPA, which she owns and runs with her husband Johnny Shentall, are very excited to have a star amongst them. Two stars in fact, because Johnny also enjoyed a successful career in the pop world, as a professional dancer and then
as a singer in pop group, Hear’Say.
And do the dynamic duo have advice to offer their little protégés? “Johnny and I have a keen eye for talent, and we are passionate about nurturing our student’s talents and skills. It excites us to see the passion in their eyes and the commitment they show us. We are always on hand to guide and support our students and offer advice."
It has been an exciting challenge setting up their business in Dubai, and a lot of hard work. Both qualified dance teachers, the talented couple always had a dream of creating their own performing arts school. Spotting a gap in the Dubai market, they have worked to make theirs the most successful school of its type in the region through offering children first-class training and expertise.
“It is a lot of hard work, especially when we are in exam season and producing shows, but it is worth all it when we see our students up there shining on stage and achieving distinctions in their performing arts exams,”
And having progressed through the ranks to stardom herself, Scott-Lee can remember all the nervousness and anxiety that goes with it. In fact, on releasing their new album Tears on the Dance Floor earlier this year, the band were worried if it would appeal to a new generation of pop fans.
They invested in some top producers and writers to give it a current feel, which paid off. “It went straight to No.1 on the iTunes charts and No.2 in the UK charts and we have been welcomed back into the pop world with open arms,” Scott-Lee smiles. So, for budding stars out there, be brave, be strong and have fun, and take it one step at a time!
For more information on the Steps tour check out www.stepsofficial.co.uk. For more on the academy visit www.dubaiperformingarts.com.