An old mill in Selkirk is a long way from London’s West End, at least it was until enterprising duo Katie Robinson and Marie McCullough moved in.
On Saturday, Sam Angell, former West End star of Billy Elliot, officially opened Creative Stage’s new studio in Riverside Mill, from where the two professional performers and dance teachers will run various classes for all ages.
Marie, who has lived in Selkirk for the past 13 years, and Katie, originally from Oxton, formed the business in September 2012, having both performed in the West End and around the world.
Katie said: “Performing arts is a small world and I knew Marie through a friend of a friend, and when I was back in the Borders I went to see a piece Marie had choreographed, and she mentioned that she was looking at doing something like this.
“I was working in Italy and we ended up having Skype sessions to put our ideas together and we just went for it when I came back.”
Their office was initially Marie’s kitchen, with the pair putting on performing arts classes across the Borders.
Despite the opening of their own dedicated studio, they will continue to offer classes across the area, but the huge studio space, with mirrors and ballet barres, will allow them to run new dance classes too.
“We can do a lot more in here than we could before,” said Marie.
The highlights of their year are summer and Christmas shows.
Marie said: “It is hard work putting on two shows a year, but it is nice for parents to see what their children have been learning in class.”
Katie added: “We really try to make the shows as professional as possible, and bring in professional sound technicians and so it gives the chance for the kids to work with microphones, stage lighting and a professional crew.”
With extensive professional contacts Marie and Katie have also arranged for a leading casting director to work with children in a musical theatre and audition workshop.
And while the business is focused on learning and having fun, for those keen to pursue performing arts as a career, the pair have also created an agency for local talent.