Melissa Gray – CEO - Founder
Melissa Gray – CEO - Founder
“Helping people to challenge their perception of what’s possible. Movement awakens a different side to us and I love helping people to evolve.”
Alexe – co-founder
Alexe – co-founder
Alexe co-founded LAP / LDA (originally the London Academy of Pole Dancing) in 2006, following her passion and success as a pole teacher and events manager.
After graduation from a prestigious London university with a BA in Music Business & Management, Alexe created a successful events company which organises concerts and festivals in England, Ireland and on continental Europe (totalling over a hundred sensational bands from 5 continents) while making LAP her number one professional activity at the same time! Identifying the gap in fitness industry the market for pole dancers flexibility and circus performers like herself and teaming up with Melissa, LAP was born, Being the first to offer these types of classes soon took the fitness industry by storm in gyms such as LA Fitness, Virgin Active, Fitness First to name a few.
Having danced all her life and performed on stage from a very young age (including the Royal Festival Hall with Lionel Blair), Alexe applied her unmatched organisational skills to multiple roles in the industry (prominent things from events, sales and promotion, stage manager to performer and teacher).
Moving her way up everywhere around London, from Spitalfields, Kings Cross Scala and Camden venues & clubs, LAP came to synchronise many of her passions. performance, dance, management, marketing, and most of all, being free from anyone else’s intervention.
With over 15 years teaching experience, Alexe has also been a part of different Circus troupes and perform at a wide range of events from Glastonbury to Torture Garden.
Over the years, Alexe and Melissa have expanded LDA from being the first in providing not just pole dancing and LDA designed classes such as Extreme stretch, Bikini bootcamp.
Now an umbrella company LDA: Proposing event management and/or performers for major corporate clients, hen parties supplier, designer clothing range for dancers and run a Dancers & Performers agency . They officially opened their very popular London Dance Academy studios in the trendy Old Street area in 2012.
Now Alexe has now retired as LDA director, concentrating on starting her new family.
Alexi is a Level 4 Master Trainer with 8 years experience within the Health and Fitness Industry as a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor. With a degree in professional musical theatre training across a variety of dance styles, Alexi has taught Pole Dance at Beginner and Intermediate Level at a LDA for 5 years now.
Specialising in Sports Specific Conditioning, corrective exercise, functional training and Flexibility, Alexi will take you to the peak of your ability, with a primary focus on strength and conditioning to unleash your true potential. Expect to work hard in her classes and watch your fitness excel. Expect a variety of training approaches within her classes, with a fun and energising yet results orientated approach. All abilities welcome.
Alexi teaches the following class formats: Kettlebells, Reformer Pilates, HITT, Pole Dance, Boxing, Skill Circuits, Bootcamp, Beginner to Advanced Core Workouts, and Deep Dynamic Stretch. All abilities welcome.
Andrew teaches our Pole Lads classes every week at London Dance Academy. Having completed his pole instructor qualification, he continues to refine his skills in house through our ongoing teacher training.
Andrew has competed in and won the Parapole title at both the IPSF European Championships and IPSF World Championships in Canada. He was also voted Male Athlete of the Year 2019, and Gold in Pole Theatre UK Drama category.
Andrew first discovered London Dance Academy through chance after reading about Antigravity Yoga; London Dance Academy was the only studio in the UK offering classes at the time. Although he hadn’t exercised for 16 years, following an accident that left him with reduced use of his leg, Andrew enjoyed the class and the studio and soon became curious about the pole dancing on offer.
Watch Andrew’s incredible story in this short film on youtube
Despite his worries about his injuries, Andrew became addicted to pole from his very first few classes. “When you achieve a move that you’ve always wanted to do and you finally get it, the elation is amazing.”
Although he eventually took the decision to have his injured lower leg amputated in early 2018, Andrew got back to training very soon afterwards. Just over a year on, he is now a Parapole World Champion, having won gold at both the IPSF’s championships in Holland and World Finals in Canada.
Andrew loves the “endorphin rush” of new tricks most of all, especially in challenging or unusual combos. Expect to build some serious strength and achieve impressive moves in his classes!
Andrew insists that with the right support and people around you, you can achieve anything you want in life. “There’s something out there for everybody.”
Angeliki teaches aerial hoop and aerial silks at London Dance Academy. She holds a Foundation degree and Postgraduate Certificate from the National Centre of Circus Arts. At the Circus Centre she trained in all kinds of aerial disciplines like hoop and silks. She specialised in Aerial straps. Angeliki is blending movement principals with straps technique to create her own very unique style of performance.
Angeliki first came to aerial 10 years ago. She already started dancing at the age of four and her training includes ballet, contemporary, jazz and modern theatre dance. A trained dancer, she wanted to expand her skills and have fun. So she started trying some acrobatics balance classes and then discovered aerial silks. For her, it was “the idea of becoming superhuman” that made her fall in love with the sport!
She says that “Practicing aerial fuels me with self-empowerment. It teaches me how to listen and trust others. And Aerial arts allows me to explore my creativity and conquer my fears.” You can expect a detail-oriented class with a strong emphasis on technique in Angeliki’s classes. All classes have a supporting and friendly environment and a great playlist. Although she is an in demand circus performer, Angeliki says her proudest achievement is having her London Dance Academy students ask for more of her classes!
For the last few years she has been performing and teaching aerial disciplines in the UK and abroad.
Anouska teaches Discover Pole, Pole Level 1, Pole Level 2, Exotic Pole, Twerk, LAP dance and conditioning at London Dance Academy. She is one of our busiest teachers and a qualified personal trainer. Anouska has been training at London Dance Academy for years. She first tried pole dancing on a ‘whim’ and soon became obsessed.
Although she had a background in personal training and martial arts, Anouska says she found pole challenging at first. Luckily, making new friends at the studio kept her coming back. Eventually, pole helped her to “learn that I was able to work hard to achieve the goals I wanted to achieve and it made me, for the first time ever, actually like my body.” Nowadays, she says pole has “given me more confidence than I ever thought possible and it’s given me my pole family!”
Having experienced so many personal benefits from pole, Anouska naturally wanted to share her passion with students and help them on their own journeys. She describes helping people to progress as “an absolute privilege”. Her goal is to pass on the magic that she has discovered through pole onto others so that they can fall in love with it as she has.
Depending on the class, you can expect both strength, conditioning and technique from Anouska. As well as an emphasis on finding your confidence and style of movement. She says her proudest pole achievement to date was organising London Dance Academy’s 2019 Christmas showcase. “Every single performance was wonderfully unique and showed that pole is for everyone. Being part of that and also being able to perform alongside members of my pole family was an honour.”
Hannah Rose teaches our core pole level classes and spin pole at levels 3 to 5, alongside Conditioning, Splits and Pole Performance.
Hannah Rose is a professional Pole Dancer and Circus Artist based in London. She is the twice winner of the UK Professional Pole Championships at Elite level and 3 times winner of the Best Tricks Award. She also competes internationally and won 3rd place in Womens’ International Elite at Pole Art France.
In her performance career some of her most recent highlights include the opening of the BRIT awards and as a semi-finalist on Ninja Warrior. She has also judged numerous competitions across the UK and internationally including UKPPC, Pole Revolutions and IUPDC. And she teaches masterclasses across the UK and abroad.
She uses her intimate knowledge of the body gained from her circus training to help develop students’ pole dance technique so they can execute moves safely and beautifully. She is also Xpert and First Aid qualified.
She has been pole dancing since 2010 and teaching for the last 6 years. Hannah is also a professional trained circus artist specialising in Aerial Straps. She uses her knowledge gained from her circus training to help develop her students’ pole dance technique. She is known for her badass dynamic style and flowing combos and static spins on the pole. Her passion and dedication to teaching shows. And she shares her love for pole with her students. Hannah loves helping students achieve tricks they’ve been working on for months, and watching them develop their own style or create routines.
Her teaching motto is everything is achievable with the right amount of conditioning, technique and practise. Nothing is out of reach, there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’ just ‘I can’t yet’!
Heather first began to train circus intensively at the age of twelve, with the Five Ring Circus Troupe before going on to complete a BTEC with Circus Central. She is currently training for a BA at the National Centre for Circus Arts, specialising in corde lisse. Within aerial, Heather particularly enjoys strength and dynamic work and often draws from traditional straps techniques to complement her style. She thrives from pushing herself to develop new sequences and working on solidifying good technique.
In class, Heather likes to focus on building on skills to create longer sequences and encourages a creative approach to working with aerial equipment. Her favourite thing about teaching is watching a student’s confidence and strength on the apparatus develop. Recently, her proudest achievement has been achieving an elephant lift on rope!
Before the pandemic, Heather performed solo acts at the Edinburgh Fringe, in the NoFitState big top and for CBBC Live. She is competent in many circus disciplines including rope, straps, trapeze, silks, hoop and handstands.
She was part of a touring youth circus in Switzerland as a child, performing various skills such as acrobatics, trapeze, unicycle, rope dancing and even a bit of juggling. She has also performed in Swiss musical theatre, tried her hand at Irish step dance and practised kickboxing.
Jackie got first introduced to pole dancing at the start of 2015 through working in the music industry. She realised she had never appreciated the gymnastic / acrobatic elements required for pole dance, which was precisely what got her hooked. She fell in love with pole instantly and has been training intensively at London Dance Academy ever since, qualifying as a teacher in 2016.
Jackie’s proudest achievement in the pole dance world is placing first in ‘Experienced Pole Doubles’ and ‘Best Tricks Overall’ at the Pole Revolution UK Competition 2019 together with her pole bestie Magda.
For Jackie Pole Dance is life! She says that pole dancing has greatly increased her confidence and body awareness. If she can’t train or be in the studio for even one day, she starts to get FOMO. “The people (students and fellow teachers) are all so warm and welcoming, it feels like a second home to me”.
Katarina teaches our morning and lunchtime pole level classes from Discover Pole, levels 1 through to 3, holistic stretch and splits and aerial yoga.
She is a qualified pole trainer with Spin City, a 200hr Yoga Alliance instructor, and a personal trainer. She has further qualifications in Anatomy and Physiology for Exercise (QCF) and ETM (Exercise To Music Level 2). And through BoxingYoga™ she found out more about the importance of yoga for every day life.
Katarina first fell in love with Pole fitness in 2009, as a result of attending just one class for fun with her friend. “At the time pole was not that well known as a form of exercise with only a few small studios. It was hard to find studios or videos to practice with.”Katarina persevered and began training with pole innovator Elena Gibson. She had always wanted to work in the fitness industry, and found pole fitness so inspiring that she decided to become a qualified instructor. “I followed my dream, and therefore I am here today, teaching at the best pole studio in London!”
Alongside her pole training, Katarina also found yoga invaluable for complementing her training and everyday life. She took the big decision to travel to India to deepen her knowledge and complete her 200 hours yoga teacher training. A true multitasker and all rounder in the studio, Katarina is always signing up for new courses. She invests in training and books to keep herself updated with the latest trends in the fitness industry. She is passionate about helping people of all fitness levels achieve their goals. And was voted Pole Fitness Ambassador in 2014.
You can expect a strong emphasis on strength building, safety and above all fun in Katarina’s pole classes. Whilst her yoga and stretch classes are taught in a slow, relaxing style with deep stretches and mindfulness to give body and mind a break. “What a perfect match: Yoga and Pole!”
Kerry teaches AntiGravity Yoga at London Dance Academy.
She first tried an AntiGravity Yoga class back in 2016 as it was something new and different being offered by her gym. “I fell hook, line and hammock in love with it!” She loved the fact that even as a beginner, it’s possible to safely execute inversions, flips and tricks in AntiGravity Yoga. “I was having so much fun I didn’t even realise I was working out!” Kerry says that starting AntiGravity Yoga helped her improve her flexibility and continues to strengthen her core and upper body too.
Eventually, she quit her corporate career to pursue teaching full time, and says she enjoys it so much she doesn’t even think of it as a job! “I love helping people overcome their doubts and achieve things that they weren’t sure that they could when they initially walked through the door, and see those people improve in their technique and confidence week on week! I love giving people an escape from the day – how can you think about those emails that you need to send when you’re suspended in silk?”
Style wise, Kerry likes to keep her classes fun filled yet challenging , with a focus on good technique so that you can benefit from AntiGravity Yoga’s full body fitness effects.
“I hope that you will leave my class feeling lighter and brighter and with a smile on your face.”
Laura has got a long experience in pole. “I started pole dancing 10 years ago in Queenstown, New Zealand. A friend from work introduced me to it and I was instantly hooked. I was taught by some super inspiring women in New Zealand which really made me fall in love with it.”
What I love about pole is the amazing feeling you have when you finally get a move. The confidence and support you get from others in the studio, there are no egos and it was all about cheering each other on whether you were a baby poler or super experienced. Also, the sparkly shoes.
After starting pole I have more confidence in my every day life. I found pole helped me love my body and appreciate everything I can do.
I adore teaching and seeing someone new to pole catch the bug and see their confidence and ability grow. My motivation for teaching is to pass on my enthusiasm and to give new polers that solid base skill set to progress.
Laura’s proudest pole moment was competing in the 2018 Dance Filthy Northern heats. Competing also gave her the fire to improve and get her teaching qualification. In class you can expect an incredibly well curated pole playlist that Laura has been working on for the last 10 years. Laura’s style is a beautiful pole flow with a sexy flair.
Louise is a professional Dancer and Choreographer, Magician an Illusionist. She has worked with the worlds most renowned artists and magicians, and appeared on tv screens internationally as well as in London’s West end.
Louise says: “I first started dancing aged 5 when I started ballet lessons back home in Scotland – I just loved it and soon started jazz and Tap which led me to dancing as a juvenile dancer in various pantos and shows. I just always loved being on stage and entertaining people but also the team spirit of dancing – working together rehearsing together and making life long friends. I trained as a young adult in Acting but decided at 23 to go and train properly in dance which is when I moved to London! “
She has danced on BBC Children in Need, The Apprentice and at the o2 and Wembley as well as on stages all over the world including Ultra Music Festival, Pride Paris and in various music concerts and music videos for artists such as The Vamps. She has also appeared – and disappeared! – I’m various magic tv shows such as BBC The Magicians and Now You See It.
“I think, once a dancer, always a dancer and these days I dance not only to keep fit but for my mental wellbeing – getting those happy endorphins pumping!”
Louise says: “I absolutely love teaching. I genuinely absolutely enjoy it. Helping to build people’s confidence and help them to feel the way I do about dancing. I love creating a safe place for them to just go for it. Seeing their progress from first lesson, to a few lessons down the line is so rewarding. Also seeing my choreography come to life on someone else is always fun!”
Louise’s teaching style is simple – fun and totally inclusive. “EVERYONE can dance, some people just need a little encouragement to unleash the beast! My aim is that by the end of the lesson everyone leaves feeling fabulous about themselves. We still work hard and sneak in technique as well as fitness. But the focus is on learning favourite moves from classic music videos and that feel good factor. I do try to sprinkle in a bit of the old Scottish charm as well, just for good measure! “
“Helping people to challenge their perception of what’s possible. Movement awakens a different side to us and I love helping people to evolve.”
Miriam teaches Discover Pole, Level 1, Level 1-2, Exotic Pole and Stretch It at London Dance Academy.
Prior to pole, Miriam trained to a high level in ballet, jazz and commercial dance as a teenager. Always looking for a new challenge, she was part of a National Championships winning cheer team at university and even has experience teaching children’s ballet and trampolining.
Miriam began her pole journey at London Dance Academy after growing tired of the intensely competitive dance classes and cheer team environments, and the boredom of long distance running. She just wanted a new challenge that would be a way to learn something completely new and switch off mentally at the end of a working day, something that would reduce stress, not increase it. The first few classes hurt, but it wasn’t long before she became totally addicted.
She found that pole completely reformed her body image and helped hugely with her anxiety and insomnia that she’d been struggling with for years. She also made a whole new group of wonderful LDA pole friends! After finding so many unexpected benefits to pole she is always encouraging anyone who will listen to give it a go. Teaching was the next natural step, and Miriam became an Xpert Pole Fitness qualified instructor in 2020.
Miriam struggles to sit still and this is reflected in her classes – expect to sweat! However, she believes that pole should be fun first and foremost, and although she will help you with conditioning and technique in order to progress, she mainly just wants you to feel great about yourself and not take anything too seriously. She remembers the struggles of being a beginner very clearly, so can always empathise with her students.
She has so enjoyed watching the progress of her beginner students to date, and still can’t believe she gets paid to lark around in 8 inch heels!
Nofisa teaches Discover Pole at London Dance Academy and is a cover teacher for some of our other pole and dance classes. She is also a Personal Trainer and qualified Exercise to Music Instructor. And she loves bringing a lot of energy to a room full of people. A proud moment in her pole journey is coming 1st place in the talent show section of Miss Galaxy Universe, a Fitness Model Competition for Women.
Nofisa was 22 and living in the USA when she tried her very first pole dance class. “I had been saying for 6 years that I wanted to try. I knew it would help to develop my confidence and help me to unleash my sensual side.” It was even better than she’d expected; “When I was on that pole I felt free to express myself, confident, and unapologetically badass!” Nowadays she finds it empowering to be able to teach what she knows to other women. She is strong and full of sass.
Nofisa says “The world is calling for more women to reclaim their power and go after their desires. When females stand in their power and are in alignment with their true desires, everyone around them benefits.”
She finds teaching beginners the most rewarding because she loves “watching their fears and stories melt away as they gain confidence. One of the things I hear the most in the classes I teach is how confident a person felt after.”
Nusha teaches Level 2, Level 3, Exotic and Spinning Pole as well as Flexi Flow and Splits at London Dance Academy. She was crowned the winner of Exotic Generation UK’s highly competitive New Face category in 2019.
She started practicing pole in 2012, long before it was a common offering at gyms or university societies. She first gave it a go whilst studying at Oxford University, when lessons were held in a small events room above a pub. Despite the inauspicious surroundings, she became hooked from the first class after “feeling like she could fly”, and loved “the inclusive, sexy vibe of the studio”. She went on to become the first person ever to represent Oxford University in a pole dancing competition!
In 2019, Nusha moved to Argentina to learn Spanish and train in aerial hoop at a local circus school. She is especially proud of the amazing skills she learnt and fabulous relationships that she made there with fellow aerialists, as well as a cabaret hoop performance that she performed there, which incorporated lots of what she loves from pole, hoop and exotic all in one show.
Over all these years of training, Nusha says the most important things pole dance and hoop has brought to her life are “friends, passion, a greater appreciation for her body and a lot of laughter!”
As a teacher, Nusha’s classes have a focus on technique as well as self expression and enjoyment. She loves sharing an enthusiasm for pole with her students. She says there is nothing better than watching her students progress and develop their own style of movement.
Rachel started dancing at the age of 5. “Some of my friends asked me to join them at their local ballet class. I decided to give it a go… and this is where my love for dance began”.
She completed all of her ballet, tap and modern dance examinations, and at the age of 18, went on to study a BA Hons in Theatre Dance at the London Studio Centre. Rachel really fell in love with dance when I realised how happy it made her. “Dance makes me feel proud, excited and alive.”
Of course, over the years I have received a lot of knock backs like any other dancer, and the feeling after being cut from auditions is the worst! But it’s the way that you deal with those situations that counts.
Dance has given me strength, determination and discipline. I am the person I am now, because of dance. I have confidence and motivation to keep improving and learning new skills each day. I have danced in resorts and hotels as well as cruise ships all over the world. I have also choreographed touring shows and managed production teams.
Alongside my performing career, I have always taught dance. I love the fact that through teaching, I can share my knowledge and skills with others, helping students to achieve their goals and watch their passion for dance grow, like mine continues to do.
As a teacher, Rachel likes to motivate and inspire others. I want to bring people together that share the same passion as mine. I want people to feel good when they take my classes and ensure that they leave with a smile on their face.
I like to focus on technique and choreography, ensuring that when the class is over, you have really achieved something. My belief is that those people out there that have never tried a dance class, have not lived. And life is for living, right?
Sophie teaches our key pole level classes at London Dance Academy, from beginner through to elementary, intermediate and advanced. She also teaches the beg-int level spinning pole classes, and floorwork, flow and stretch.
She qualified with the International Dance Teacher’s Association with an Associate in Freestyle. Sophie placed second in the Instructor category at UKPPC 2017, first in the Pro category at Dance Filthy Southern 2018, and was also a finalist in the Pro Category at UKPPC 2018 and Pole Art UK 2018.
An experienced professional dance teacher, Sophie first tried out pole whilst recovering from an injury and fell in love: “it allowed me to continue dancing and expressing myself through movement whilst in the air.” She stuck with it, enjoying the unique combination of strength and femininity that pole offers.
One of the main benefits pole dance has brought to her life is “meeting a fantastic group of people who have become my family and closest friends”.
Some of her proudest pole achievements to date include placing second in her first ever pole competition, and performing/modelling for Stella McCartney and Adidas for the Spring/Summer 2014 campaign with the London Dance Academy agency.
With over twelve year’s experience in teaching, there’s very few pole woes that Sophie can’t remedy. She is known at the studio for her approachable, friendly teaching personality and patient troubleshooting. Making sure every student in her classes gets enough one on one time.
Her enthusiasm shines through lesson after lesson; “student’s successes and achievements are my successes and achievements. I also love seeing that excitement and joy of ‘I did it!’. It sounds cheesy but it’s very fulfilling.
Tanya is a lawyer-turned-aerialist and a new teacher at LDA! She started doing Pole and Aerial Hoop ten years ago while she was at the University of Manchester. She fell in love with Aerial Hoop and continued training in the discipline when she moved to London (whenever her day job allowed). When she decided being a corporate lawyer conflicted too much with her creative side, Tanya quit her job and decided to focus on activities which made her feel happy and free (‘life is definitely better upside down!’).
Tanya is also passionate about Yoga/Acro/Stretch as she believes these are the key to maintaining strong and active flexibility whilst on the hoop/pole. An ex-dancer, Tanya incorporates her dance background into her flexibility, conditioning and hoop routines.
Tanya was a student at London Dance Academy and wants to share the love for aerial she built here with other students on their LDA journeys. She wants her classes to help each student, irrespective of their fitness level or background, progress beyond their goals in a safe, fun and enjoyable manner.
When she’s not in the air, Tanya has a strong focus on body confidence. She loves twerking, whining, strength training and generally motivating girls to enjoy and appreciate what their bodies are capable of above everything else.
Tanya loves the liberation that comes with aerial – she believes that while you are flying in the air, you can make your experience whatever you want it to be – sexy, contemporary, strength-based, tricks-based, funky…for an hour or two each week, normal life can be forgotten and play time can take over.
Tanya’s personal teaching style is upbeat, energetic and light-hearted. Her Aerial Hoop classes contain a mixture of both strength-based moves and moves/transitions to incorporate in hoop flow/choreography routines. Her Stretch classes have an emphasis on strength, conditioning and active flexibility to complement other disciplines such as Pole, Acro, Contortion and Aerial.