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About the Esk Academy of Dancing


I have an unshakeable belief in the value and benefits of movement, especially dance, in contributing to physical and emotional health throughout people's lives. This was the founding principle of the Esk Academy of Dancing.

Since the very start of my career I have felt extremely fortunate in being able to do the job I love most: teaching dance of many genres to a wide range of pupils. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing pupils enjoy their continually growing abilities, increasing their wellbeing and confidence.


Yet my story started much earlier from very unexpected beginnings. At the age of 4, I was apparently taken to dance classes run by an elderly cousin because I tended to walk with my toes turned in! Little did I know that from such a chance happening and tiny beginnings, dance would become the mainstay of my life.

By the age of 10, I was helping ‘teach’ the others in highland and novelty dances. At that point, my cousin said it was time I moved on to a proper school and I was sent to the top school in Edinburgh, which opened new horizons to a world of ballet, tap and a range of other types of dance. Interestingly, I discovered many years later that I was distantly related to the famous Adaline Calder, the owner of that school.

The more I learned, the more exciting life became! By the age of 14, I was given the opportunity of dancing professionally in pantomime when a member of the troupe had appendicitis and a replacement was urgently required. I became a full-time teaching student at the age of 15 years and went on to gain my first teaching degrees at 18 years old.


Although I was invited to become a junior partner by a major examiner in England, what I really wanted was to open my own school in Scotland. Towards this aim, I continued to gain experience, dancing professionally in Edinburgh and London, and taking teaching degrees to advanced level in theatre (classical ballet, tap and jazz), Highland, Scottish country dancing, and ballroom.


I have never regretted my decision to found the Esk Academy of Dancing in Montrose, and thereafter being able to move into my own purpose-designed premises, establishing Montrose Dance Centre with its spacious dance facilities as the new home of the Esk Academy of Dancing from 1987.

5. In London – the Esk Academy receives the British Ballet Organization’s award for the be

Receiving BBO Award in London - Top scoring Scottish School


In addition to teaching and producing a wide range of Esk Academy performances and ballets over the years, I have directed International Dance Workshops with renowned Artistic Directors worldwide. I was a UK examiner for over 30 years, rising to become an international examiner when I taught and examined extensively as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, being the UK Director of Ballet Australasia (BAL) for 12 years. Many of my pupils have become professional artists, teachers and directors worldwide.

I have enjoyed many years of involvement in teaching and supplying pupils for Scottish Ballet productions, and in addition have undertaken the choreography for a number of local amateur operatic societies and Tayside Opera. Previously, I also worked with ex-polio cases sent from Edinburgh, and over the years I have enjoyed working with youth groups and members of the community to improve not only physical health but also mental health and wellbeing.


Other highlights have been our annual invitations to take a group of pupils to gain the experience of performing for the public in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and also our pupils being asked to dance in Arbroath with Pasha Kovalev on the "Strictly Come Dancing" UK Tours.

7. Rehearsing for Strictly.jpg

Rehearsal for the "Strictly" tour

On stage in Arbroath with Pasha


Fostering social commitment

Today my passion still thrives as I continue to enjoy teaching and training students to professional level and helping many, including the elderly, get the most out of life by exercising in the correct way – all with a healthy dose of fun!

I hear that experts in the medical world have discovered that ballet is the greatest form of exercise to promote good health – with which naturally we agree!



Beryl Couper

  • Member of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing - Ballroom Dance

  • Holder of Advanced Ballet Teaching Certificate of the British Ballet Organisation

  • Holder of Advanced Tap Teaching Diploma of British Ballet Organisation

  • Member of United Kingdom Alliance, Highland Branch

  • Holder of Full Teaching Certificate of Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

  • Former International Examiner




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