Tales of Beatrix Potter. Rehearsals at The Congress Theatre

Our story 
South Coast Ballet

The idea of South Coast Ballet was born during the national lockdowns of 2020 & 2021. We saw first-hand the impact of months of ‘Zoom training’ on dance students and wanted to create an environment that would reignite their passion for ballet training and allow them to thrive.

Our goal was to demonstrate to ballet students that their craft was so much more than just endless hours of repetition in class. We aimed to connect the ballet class to the professional stage, aswell as to showcase all the techniques and skills they have learned over the years in their intended environment.

And from that idea, South Coast Ballet was born.

Throughout 2021 and early 2022, we hosted workshops sharing classic ballet repertoire with ballet students from around the South East. This gave them a chance to identify with the principal ballet dancers they saw on stage.

Our first full-length production, ‘The Tales of Beatrix Potter’, featuring a talented cast of young dancers from across East and West Sussex, was staged at The Congress Theatre, Eastbourne in November 2022. Following this success, we returned to the Congress stage in 2023 with our production of ‘The Nutcracker’.

South Coast Ballet welcomes ballet dancers from any dance school, studying any ballet syllabus. Contact us for more information.


Rachael Mitchell | Artistic Director

Rachael undertook her dance training in her hometown of Eastbourne achieving Advanced exams in multiple genres. She dance with Southern Youth Ballet from its very first show in 1996 until 2012, dancing many solo and principal roles, as well as performing alongside the Birmingham Royal Ballet. She then became a choreographer and ballet teacher for the company.

Rachael qualified as a dance teacher with the ISTD and has combined this with a career in the fitness industry. She has freelanced at many dance schools in the East Sussex area with many of her students progressing on to train at top dance colleges and work professionally all over the world.

Through the creation of South Coast ballet, I aim to provide dance students with more performance opportunities with their ballet, rather than purely their weekly classes. To put all those hours of practice in context, so that they are encouraged and motivated to carry on their ballet training in their own dance schools and into the future.

Rachael Mitchell. Artistic Director of South Coast Ballet
South Coast Ballet Teachers

Claire Christou | Choreographer 

Having started ballet in South Africa, and continuing when she moved to the UK, Claire has always loved to dance. She completed her BA Hons at Middlesex University, training under Anna Went and Lesley Main.

Following this, she went on to teach and travel to Hong Kong, and back to South Africa, before settling in Eastbourne and completing her dance training with both the ISTD (DDE) and IDTA (Licentiate)

Claire has been a freelance teacher in the South East for over 10 years and has also helped set up Eastbourne Dance Space, an award-winning adults-only dance studio in Eastbourne.

Most recently she has started up her own enterprise, Jewelled Bird Dance, running workshops and dance intensives for adults on the south coast, and writing a blog about her experiences as a dance teacher.

“I am excited to be working alongside Rachael at South Coast Ballet, creating a wonderful experience for dancers running alongside their current dance training.”

Becky Knight | Technical Director 

Becky began her dance training at the age of 2, obtaining all major exams in Ballet,

Modern, Jazz, and Tap, completing her dance teacher training at the Deborah Lamb Theatre School. As a freelance teacher, Becky has taught all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain, and Thailand. She teaches Ballet, Modern, KS3, GCSE, and BTEC

dance at a secondary school in East Sussex as well as running a very successful dance company. Currently, Becky’s pupils are studying at Trinity Laban and past pupils are performing in the West End. Becky also runs workshops and CPD workshops working in partnership with other performing art specialists. She teaches Adult Ballet at Ratton Academy of Performing Arts where she is known as “Bollywood Becky”. She also teaches at RAPA Dance in Eastbourne and runs workshops with Hastings Thrives.

Becky our Stage Manager


Alison Barnard

Alison’s dancing journey started at the Margaret Meir School of Dancing under Margaret Meir and later Helen Thomas. 

My dancing took me into vocational training at 16 at Doreen Bird College and then my teaching career followed, gaining the ISTD Mavdor Scholarship. After a long and varied teaching career, I am now an ISTD tutor trainer alongside freelancing within the local area. 

After gaining my ISTD Fellowship qualification, I have been an Imperial Ballet Examiner since 2012, an achievement I feel very privileged to hold. I have since had the pleasure of being invited to teach and adjudicate at the ISTD Ballet awards and partake in various society events. 

‘Always remember to hold onto your dreams and you’ll never believe where they might take you!’

Philippa Jarrett

Philippa trained at Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts under Noreen Bush and Bridget Espinosa. 

After finishing her training she went to Virginia, USA joining the Bristol ballet and studying for a BA in dance. 

Upon returning to Europe she joined the Ballet de Flandre where she undertook teacher training and started working at the Jarret School of Dance in Brussels. 

Philippa spent many years dancing, teaching, and choreographing for ballets at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and the Gent Opera House. 

She now lives and teaches in Guilford. 

‘Behind the Curtain’

Behind every successful performance, there is a tremendous amount of work that takes place backstage. We wouldn’t be able to bring our productions to the stage without the support and hard work of our incredible team of volunteers.

Our amazing team of chaperones is headed by Angela Robinson, ‘I have been a volunteer chaperone for over 20 years, renewing my training every few years. I enjoy watching the dancers gain confidence throughout the rehearsals and making friendships that last a lifetime built on their love of dance. I also help behind the scenes with the enormous amount of paperwork. It certainly keeps me busy in my retirement.’

We are also indebted to our fantastic wardrobe department who personally fit and make alterations to every costume seen on stage – for our last show ‘The Nutcracker’ this amounted to over 240 costumes!!

Get Involved 

Would you like to be involved in our productions?

We are always on the lookout for people to help and volunteer as there is always so much going on behind the scenes.

We also have sponsorship opportunities available for local businesses. If this is something you and your business could help with, then we would love to hear from you.

The Congress Theatre