Bird College - Dance, Music And Theatre Performance Announces Gary Avis As The College's New Patron

Bird College - Dance, Music And Theatre Performance Announces Gary Avis As The College's New PatronBird College - Dance, Music and Theatre Performance today announces that Gary Avis MBE will join the College as a new patron, working alongside existing patrons Christopher Biggins, Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Lara Pulver, Liz Robertson and Dougie Squires OBEMVO, adding to the breadth of ambassadors for the College.

Principal and Chief Executive, Shirley Coen and Deputy Principal and Artistic Director, Luis De Abreu said today "Doreen Bird the Founder of the College would be as proud and delighted as we both are that Gary Avis MBE has joined the college as our new patron. He is an outstanding graduate of the college with an extraordinarily successful career. He has achieved many things in the world of dance, and the quality of his work evidences the standards to which the college continually strives. His knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to the continual development of the college and he is an inspiration to our students, alumni and staff. We are so very proud he has joined us"

Gary Avis said today "I am thrilled and extremely honoured to be asked to be Patron of an establishment that means a great deal to me. Had I not had the incredible training and tuition from the brilliantly talented teachers I experienced during my two years at Bird College, I would not be the artist I am today. I hope to be able to pass on my knowledge and understanding of the dance world and help nurture the talent of tomorrow. It is with great pride and an enormous privilege to be part of the bright and vibrant future of Bird College."

English dancer Gary Avis MBE is Ballet Master and a Principal Character Artist of The Royal Ballet. He joined the Company in 1989 and was promoted to Soloist in 1995 and to Principal Character Artist in 2005. He was made Assistant Ballet Master in 2007 and Ballet Master during the 2009/10 Season. His many roles with the Company include almost all the male Principal Character roles, including Drosselmeyer (The Nutcracker), Von Rothbart (Swan Lake) and Step-Sister (Cinderella). He has created many roles for The Royal Ballet. He trained at the Linda Shipton School of Dance and at Bird College, Kent, before joining The Royal Ballet Upper School and graduating into the Company. He left the Company in 1999 to co-found K-Ballet Company in Japan, and danced with English National Ballet for two years before returning to The Royal Ballet in 2004. He has enjoyed a long dance partnership with Darcey Bussell, creating a role with her in Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à grande vitesse and partnered her in her Farewell Performance from the Royal Ballet, at the Royal Opera House in June 2007 dancing the role of Man, to her Woman, in Song of the Earth. Also partnering her in Viva la Diva Arena Tour on Strictly Come Dancing and at the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University Campus Suffolk and was awarded the Critics' Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical). He supports a wide variety of charitable causes, mainly in his home county of Suffolk (Suffolk Community Foundation) and was involved in the creation of World Hunger Day. He is a patron of the Choreographic Development Fund at Dance East, Chelsea Ballet and is on the board of Dance East.

Shirley Coen (Principal and Chief Executive) joined the College in 1998 as Finance Director. She was appointed to the boards of directors and trustees in 2002 by Doreen Bird and was promoted to the post of Principal / CEO in 2005. She graduated from Oxford Brooks University with a BA honours degree in English and Education. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and a Trustee of the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre. Since her appointment the College has grown from a small, specialist dance college with 100 students to a one which has 600 full time students. Correspondingly, turnover has increased from £1 million to £6 million. The college has moved from a group of buildings which were not fit for purpose to an attractive campus with state-of-the-art facilities which make it an outstanding place to learn and work.

Luis De Abreu (Deputy Principal and Artistic Director) is originally from Jersey and trained at the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts, under the direction of Doreen Bird. He went on to train in drama at the Poor School. Other training has included a Script and Story Structure Course, Approaches to Physical Theatre at Middlesex University, a Mask Workshop with the Pleiades Company and Kasm Mask, and Commedia dell'Arte. He has also completed an MA in Physical Theatre at the University of Surrey and Royal Holloway University of London, and a PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University College. He joined the College as a Drama Tutor in 1996 and was later promoted to Head of Drama and Performance Studies. He was also Agency Manager for Bird Personnel Management from 1998 - 2005. He was appointed Deputy Principal and Artistic Director of Bird College in 2005. He wrote and designed the Foundation Degree in Creative Industries: Acting for Bird College which was successfully validated by University of Greenwich for five years, as well as the Pre-Vocational Foundation programme in Dance and Musical Theatre. De Abreu was appointed an Executive Director and Trustee of Bird College in October 2008 and Deputy CEO in June 2015.

His performing credits include Today, When We Are Married, Ways and Means, Hands Across the Sea, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sweet Charity, South Pacific, God Spell, Half a Sixpence and Measure for Measure. He was also one of the original Bird Theatre Company members. As a director, credits include Hands Across the Sea, Bouncers, Barnum, The Wiz, The Owl and the Pussycat, Line, Teechers, Infidelities!, Road, Habeus Corpus, Private Wars, Commedia dell'Arte, Children of Eden, The Life, I Love Uou, You're Perfect, Now Change, Fascinating Rhythms, Who Could Ask for Anything More?, Bat Boy, Kiss Me Kate, Songs for a New World, Legends, Icons and Idols, 42nd Street, Sweet Charity, Elegies, Noitamina, Crazy for You, Fame The Musical, Burlesque and other Distractions, Hello Dolly, Footloose, Broadway Then and Now, West Side Story, Curtains, Hooray for Hollywood, Cabaret, Hot Mikado, Joie De Vivre, Addams Family, Wonderlands, Seasons, Chorus Line, Cirque, Parade and Damn Yankees! Other productions include choreography and direction for Dentro Da Minha Cabeça and choreography for Metamorphosis (Dance Theatre). Publications include A Career into Dance for CDET.

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