About us

Meet the Team

Debby Cook


Licentiate IDTA, ETM, ZUMBA, YOGA Trapeze and Fitness, Rainbow Yoga, BWLA, British Gymnastics, Later life chair based exercise

Debby is the Principal of the Dance School. Having established the school in 1991 in Culcheth, Warrington. On leaving college Debby graduated in Fitness and Leisure management and continued her training in Dubai followed by dancing at Disney World! On her return to the UK she decided it was time to pass on her knowledge to the younger generation and Northern Starr Dance and Fitness was born. Debby prides herself on creating a fun, friendly, family atmosphere at all classes. She regards all of the teachers as family as well as colleagues. Debby keeps herself up to date by attending regular training courses and of course West end shows!

Gillian Paton

Commercial, Lyrical and Modern teacher

Gill is one of our most experienced teachers and has been teaching at Northern Starr for 30 years allowing pupils to thrive and develop from her expert tuition. She is renowned in the school for knowing exactly what suits each dancer best. She has performed in many theatres and was contracted to dance abroad in Athens, working as part of the entertainment team. 

Gill also teaches all styles of dance both practically and theoretically at GCSE and BTEC level 2 standard in High Schools.

Alex Lee

Studio and Fitness Manager

Freestyle, Zumba and fitness teacher

As our fitness professional Alex joined us as Zumba boomed at Northern Starr. She quickly became part of the team and gained all of her other qualifications while training with us. Alex teaches dance and all our various fitness programmes. She has a large following of Zumba Gold ladies and is known for being a bouncing ball of energetic fun!

Emma Thompson

Musical Theatre, Jazz, Lyrical and Modern teacher

Emma started her dance career at Northern Starr and went on to study dance full time at West Cheshire College. She then worked as a professional dancer, including the role of head girl, with Cleo shows in Madeira, Portugal. Later, becoming a choreographer within the company. 

Emma brings original ideas to her choreography along with technique and style to everything she does!

April Martin

Ballet, Lyrical and Contemporary teacher, BA Hons in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

April has worked with multiple choreographers and dance companies such as Tavaziva, Gaby Agis, Ri Ri’s Dance Academy, Gary Clarke, Matthieu Geffre, Eliot Smith Dance. She has also worked with the English Youth Ballet Company.

Carly Walsh

Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz and Musical Theatre teacher

Carly has danced with Northern Starr from the very first class and then continued her training at West Cheshire College. She then went on to dance and sing professionally abroad for many years in Menorca, Majorca and Cyprus, for Thomson Holidays.

Kate Valetine

Freestyle, Disco, Modern and Lil Starz teacher


Kate has been at Northern Starr for over 30 years. She brings a plethora of Freestyle dance knowledge to the school. During her time at Northern Starr she competed at a range of high level disco competitions. Kate has taught curriculum dance and has many years of school experience. Kate believes that dance is all about the journey and children of all abilities can thrive in a nurturing environment.

Amy Glover

Freestyle Teacher

Amy has trained in ballet, tap and modern as well as disco and freestyle dance for over 20 years. She delivers national curriculum dance to both Key Stage 1 and 2. Northern Starr has given her opportunity to dance at numerous events around the UK.

Claire Pownall

Street and Urban teacher

Claire has been dancing at Northern Starr since the age of 7 completing exams and entering competitions to then go on to pass her teaching qualification. Claire went on to broaden her dance experience gaining a contract to work for the TUI entertainment team in Cyprus. Northern Starr has been a part of Claire’s life and her family’s for over 20 years and believes it has helped to make her into the person she is today.

Zara Frith

Contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical & Freestyle teacher


Zara has just completed her BA Honours in Dance Performance at Chichester University. Whilst teaching at our studios she is also working towards her PGDE specialising in Dance. Zara brings the latest style and movement to her choreography.

Beth Leyland

Acro Teacher

Beth trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Beth has worked as a professional dancer and was a part of numerous Dance Companies and jobs as a performer. Beth then moved on to gain her PGCE Teacher Training in Performing Arts, and now works full time as a Further Education Performing Arts Teacher. Beth gained her Acro Certification in 2017 from Acrobatic Arts.

Garion Frith

Acting and Music Teacher


We are very lucky to have Garion, a graduate from the Manchester school of theatre, East 15 acting school and the national youth film academy. As well as running 1-1 sessions in all aspects of acting and auditions, Garion assists in the music production and performance areas of all our stage schools and shows.