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Overseas university spotlight: Performers College Essex (UK)

Performers College is a specialist training institute that has been preparing students for careers in dance, musical theatre and acting for the last 30 years.

In fact, an impressive 10 of its recent graduates were featured in one of my favorite movies of all time -- Barbie.

With campuses in both Essex and in Birmingham, it's also part of the BIMM University group of colleges.

I was fortunate to visit the campus in Essex, which is the more rural of the two -- but less than an hour away from London.

Here are some of the highlights!

Performer's College Essex

Campus and academics

At first, I was curious about why the school was located in rural Essex County; however, I later saw that it was designed that way to eliminate distractions as well as the need for students to travel from studio to studio, and it also provides a more affordable cost of living than the big cities.

Here, students can really focus on their craft; plus, it's only 20 minutes away from the beach!

Nevertheless, London is still right on the doorstep, less than an hour away by train.

This area is packed during the 2-week Freshers period, with karaoke, bands, bingo and more
This area is packed during the 2-week Freshers period, with karaoke, bands, bingo and more

Performers is accredited by the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT), and all you need to do is check out its extensive list of student destinations to see the quality of the training.

Campus cafe
Campus cafe

One point that stood out to me about Performers College Essex was the faculty; they genuinely enjoy working there, and many have been there for more than a decade.

From West End performers to renowned choreographers, the faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and industry experience to the table.

First-year ballet class
First-year ballet class

Another thing I thought was really cool was the fact that every ballet class has a live pianist!

Gym and extracurricular area
Gym and extracurricular area

The college offers two degrees, the first of which is the BA Musical Theatre & Dance, which has high contact hours (25-27 per week), so students should be ready to put in lots of work.

Students can also take two optional classes on top of their normal studies, including gymnastics, extra acting, yoga, ensemble singing, etc.

It's the main degree on campus, with about 500 students in total.

However, it's also selective; it receives about 1,300 applications every year, enrolling about 160 students from that.

Practicing for a production
Practicing for a production

The other degree is the BA Acting for Stage, Screen & Digital Media, which has around 26 students.

This degree culminates in an exciting red-carpet screening of short films, plus a fully produced play.

Both events are attended by industry guests to help springboard into the profession.

Warming up for a jazz dance class
Warming up for a jazz dance class

Nevertheless, throughout the degree there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to perform, including dance conventions, end of year shows, musical theatre showcases and more.

Students can also work professionally alongside their studies, as opportunities may pop up.

To enroll in either program, students do have to audition, but international students are able to do so online.

And while most of the students are from the UK, they are actively looking to increase their international student population.

Summary: Performer's College Essex

The culture at Performers College Essex is welcoming, and the community is close-knit.

Faculty push students to reach their max potential, and their industry experience and connections are invaluable.

This college would be a great fit for someone who wants practical, hands-on training in a focused, creative environment -- with all the benefits of having London just a stone's throw away, too.


Interested in applying for college or grad school in the UK?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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