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Meet the team

Creative Team

Stephanie Ridings - Artistic Director

Stephanie is a writer and theatre maker working across a range of genres. Her own work includes The Fear of Fear, commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre; The Road to Huntsville, a China Plate Bitesize commission and winner of an Arts Voice award, published by Nick Hern Books; Dylan’s Parents for Live Lunch at the Royal Court; and Unknown Male, co-produced with Birmingham REP, winner of the Peter Brook/Mark Marvin award. She frequently works with Coventry-based organisations Talking Birds and Theatre Absolute.


Lou Lomas - Creative Producer

Lou is an outdoor arts producer and project manager with over 11 years experience. Lou is currently working with Talking Birds Theatre Company, Imagineer Productions (Bridge 2019-2021 and Bridge2Bamboo 21-22) The Fabularium, Coventry Dance and XTRAX. Lou is aslo a regular HPL lecturer at Coventry University. Lou was the associate programmer for the Festival of Imagineers, and co-producer of Shop Front Festival in Coventry with Theatre Absolute and Orit Azaz . Lou was the former senior producer (Advanced programme) for Coventry City of Culture Trust 2021 Bid. Lou is passionate about the development of outdoor work and supporting companies/artists working outdoors . Lou is currently a board member for Outdoor Arts UK.


Lisa Franklin - Project Co-ordinator and Access Producer

Lisa Franklin is an artist and producer based in Coventry. Most recently, she has worked as Access Producer on Paul O’Donnell’s Symphony of Us and Community Engagement Producer on Her Day Opera. Lisa also worked as Projects Coordinator & Digital Producer with Theatre Absolute. Lisa’s artistic practice explores the natural world, the language of growing, connection and the everyday ordinary and she often works with living materials. She is a Springboard Artist at the Belgrade Theatre, a Dynamo poet with Nine Arches Press and has recently completed a residency with underGROWTH. 


Orit Azaz - Outdoor Show Director

Orit is an artistic director, theatre maker and facilitator with a passion for creating large scale performances and events that bring communities together to share new experiences and conversations. Over the last 15 years, much of her work has been outdoors, including with the UK’s leading contemporary circus company Nofit State, as artistic director of series of large scale, open air, circus theatre interventions, including Parklife, Barricade and Open House; Birmingham Cathedral to create a distinctive celebration of its 300th anniversary, Something Good and Measures of Us; and Imagineer Productions as artistic director of Bridge and Bridge2Bamboo.


Christopher Green - Host / MC

Christopher Green is an artist. Their work covers a range of performance, writing and creation skills across cabaret, comedy, popular music, broadcast, theatre, and digital platforms.  You might know them for the characters Nashville superstar Tina C. or Artificial Hip Hop pensioner Ida Barr, or their work on BBC Radio 4.  


Jessica Murray – Choreographer 

Jess Murray is a dance artist, producer, educator and researcher specialising in tap dance. Her inspiration comes from ‘Hoofing’, which places musicality, improvisation and self-expression at the heart of the tap dancer's craft. Jess has produced and hosted live music tap jams (Tap Rhythm Jam, London Tap Jam, Tap Dance Festival UK) and is Artistic Director of Tap Rhythm Project, which has delivered performance and participatory activity in the Midlands and Northwest since 2006. Jess is currently undertaking a practice research Ph.D researching ‘Improvisational Dramaturgy for Dance and Music Collaboration’, and is the founding director of Tap Dance Research Network UK (CIC).


Junior Laniyan - Associate Choreographer 

Founder of the London Tap Jam, Ademola Junior Laniyan has performed numerous times at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, in Out Of The Blues (UK Tour), New York on Tap, Cross Currents Turned on Tap and Finding Synaesthesia (London & Salzberg Jazz Festivals) with Heather Cornell. He’s also worked alongside Robbie Williams in Robbie Williams Live at the Royal Albert Hall and played the title role in the touring show Master Juba. Junior's international credits include Copasetics (Switzerland), The Ernesto Nazareth Chorinho Festival (Brazil), Los Sones Negros (Madrid) with Flamenco legend Juan de Juan, La Serana Festival Internacional de Jazz (Chile) with Cristián Cuturrufo and El GAM (Chile) with Natalia Ramírez Morales. He has also performed in Riverdance in Germany, China, Korea and the UK and can be seen in the Riverdance Live From Beijing DVD. As an actor he played Pvt Bell in 28 Days Later and The Photographer in Kill, Kill, Faster, Faster, and has appeared in numerous television productions. Junior's tap choreography credits include Sky 1’s Louis Spence’s Show Business, Net A Porter’s online Autumn Winter Shoes Campaign and a commercial for Zain, shot in Lebanon. He was also a member of the creative team for the Londons 2012 Olympic opening ceremony 

Rachel Bunce - Film-maker

Established filmmaker Rachel Bunce works across the UK to create films specialising in the arts. She has made short films for a huge number of artists and organisations including Salisbury Playhouse, Stan's Cafe, Rural Touring Dance Initiative, Action Hero and David Edgar. Rachel has documented many Midlands-based arts festivals, including Shoot Festival, Moonfest, Bitesize and critically acclaimed Fierce Festival.


Amy Kakoura - Music Director

Amy Kakoura is a performer, composer and musical director based in Coventry. She’s worked across many disciplines and engaged with people from all walks of life to create and direct musical pieces - most recently for the Coventry City of Culture opening procession and Talking Birds theatre. Voice and acting has taken her from the UK stage to the other side of the globe as a lead vocalist and musical theatre performer, and she was recently a featured artist on BBC Radio 3’s Words and Music. With a heritage spanning Greece, Ireland and England, Amy transports her voice from ancient medieval chant, to folk, jazz, soul, musical theatre, contemporary and world music. She’s thrilled to be able to light a fire under the music that makes the Midlands tick!


Janet Vaughan - Designer

Janet has designed site-specific and touring performances for unusual spaces, devised theatre and new writing. She is Co-Artistic Director and Designer at Talking Birds and her freelance design career includes work with Theatre Absolute, the Belgrade Theatre and a pop-up shop kit for the ground-breaking vInspired/Retail Trust Retail Ready People project in 2013. Janet’s designs were chosen to represent UK scenography at the Prague Quadrennial World Scenography Exhibitions in 1999 and 2015, and she is part of Julie’s Bicycle‘s first cohort of Creative Climate Leaders. She is a school governor, keen allotmenteer and a board member at Open Theatre and Ludic Rooms.


Thomas Langford - Production Manager


Tom Langford is a highly experienced, award-winning production manager with experience managing projects across a range of art forms and across a range of indoor and outdoor spaces. Originally working in live art, Tom has spent his 20 year career in the creation, production and touring of a broad range of performance-based activities. Tom’s recent work includes the production management of various activities for Coventry City of Culture Trust, including the mass spectacle opening event Coventry Moves.


Dance Captains

Jes Rowe

Jessica started dancing at the age of 5 at the Classic Academy of Dance, winning awards in tap, ballet, theatre craft and freestyle. After that, Jessica trained in Theatre and Professional Practice at Coventry University, which lead her to become a freelance drama and dance practitioner; weaving movement into every opportunity. For the past 7 years, she has performed with and now co-manages outdoor theatre company The Fabularium, who use music, song and movement within their work to entertain audiences internationally. In addition she facilities drama and dance in primary schools with One Day Creative, allowing her to explore a range of dance cultures; from Brazilian carnival dance to Chinese ribbon dancing! Recently she has enjoyed exploring pole and ariel work. Jessica is so excited to be revisiting her love for tap and can’t wait to get the region Tappin’ In!


Thomas O Flaherty 

Thomas is a dance teacher and performer based in Birmingham. His dance practice focuses on tap improvisation based on American tap, tango, salsa, Afrobeats and body percussion. He started dancing in the 1980s with street dance, followed by African and Latin in the 90s and in the 2000s was introduced to jazz, swing and tap. Thomas's passion is teaching absolute beginners how to dance. He believes everyone can dance and that it is a great way to express yourself, share joy and release stress. 


Kerry Perks-Sismandis 

Kerry Perks-Sismanidis began her dance training at the age of 2 ½ years old. At 16 she opted to go to Doreen Bird College in London to gain a Dance Diploma and all the Teaching Associates in ballet, tap & modern, and went immediately into her first professional contract aboard many cruise ships. Some years later Kerry founded K.P.S. Productions, producing choreography for many shows in luxury hotels and cruise liners around Europe. K.P.S. Productions regularly hosts seminars for entertainment teams assisting with skills development and production enhancement. Kerry takes her industry experience to the classes and productions at Telford Academy Of Performing Arts.


Rebecca Crookes 

From a very young age, Rebecca has had a passion for tap dance. She started her training at Vanessa’s School of Dance (Belper, Derbyshire) and now teaches the adult tap classes there. Derek Hartley was a great mentor for her growing up and developed her love for the art and its rhythms even further. At the age of 19, Rebecca joined “Tap Attack” and competed in the World Tap Dance Championships in Germany gaining a bronze medal for their Formation routine. Since then she has continued to develop her skills at various tap festivals and intensives with Tap Masters such as Roxane Butterfly, Avalon Rathgeb and her greatest inspiration, Sarah Reich. She has been performing professionally for the past 10 years in many roles dancing, singing and acting and also regularly performs at her own gigs and Tap Jams. Rebecca is now the Associate Lecturer for Tap Dance at Performers College in Birmingham and is the Artist Director of Tap Dance for the I-PATH Syllabus. She is very excited to continue her teaching journey and be part of the Tappin’ In Project.


Teresa Pattison

Teresa’s world has a range going from early professional work choreographing and performing in pop videos, working with bands to more latterly, after having children and moving back to North Staffordshire, developing dance in schools and choreographing school and college productions. I spent many years teaching GCSE and A Level Dance and BTEC Performing Arts. She  has worked at Dance Attic teaching tap at The Dance Theatre Academy and taught Jazz for Arlene Phillips at Pineapple Dance Centre.  In 2020 she was appointed Ambassador for the Royal Opera House in Stoke-on-Trent after winning a national choreographic competition, and started her company  


Seed Commission Dancers

Natalie Haslam


Natalie is a dance artist, choreographer and producer, based in the West Midlands. She tries to inject a sense of fun into everything she does and likes to spread her joy of dance in both professional and community settings. She especially likes jazz, tap and musical theatre dance styles and likes to work with text and language in her work. Most importantly, she believes that everyone can enjoy and be inspired by dance! Natalie is really excited to have been given a seed commission as part of Tappin’ In and looks forward to developing her choreographic voice using tap in outdoor settings. Natalie's other roles include support worker for DanceXchange’s Critical Mass 2022 (for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games); teacher and social media creator for Ascendance (Dance with Parkinson’s); producer for ‘Lichfield Dances’ (a large free-to-attend community dance day) and producer/curator for Lichfield Screendance Festival.


Sydneé Thompson

Sydneé is a performing arts graduate and soon to be Master of Dance and Choreography who cannot wait to get out into this huge, uncertain and beautifully creative thing we call real life! When it comes to work, Sydneé's interests come in the form of story telling through movement, film, speech and sound. Sharing our life experiences and allowing people to walk 5 minutes in someone else's shoes is something that she aims to achieve with her work - to invite people into empathy and move from being spectators to living, breathing members of this world we all share. The work Sydneé is sharing during Tappin' In is called 'The Body That Speaks', encompassing ideas of family, lived experiences and new adventures, explored through the use of morse code and body percussion, to discover the stories that our physical bodies remember and how we share this with others. 

Creative Facilitators

Ty'rone Haughton

Ty'rone (tuh-rone) Haughton is a Jamaican-born, Leicester-based poet, performance facilitator and public speaker. As a former looked-after child, Ty’rone dedicates his time to advocating for children in care by working as a panel member for various Local Authorities in the Midlands and creating work with care experienced people. Ty’rone has worked with theatres and organisations across the country such as the Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Coventry City of Culture, Women and Theatre, Leicester Curve and The National Holocaust Centre. Currently, Ty’rone is writing his debut poetry collection ‘Hoods’, due for publication Autumn 2022.


Alison Belbin 

Alison graduated in Drama from Birmingham University in 1983.  Since then she’s worked regionally and nationally, in theatre and non-theatre spaces as a performer, director and deviser/writer. Companies worked for include Women & Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Red Ladder, Big Brum, Hearth, Sante, Other Way Works, Foursight, Belgrade and Pentabus. Her radio drama work includes playing Beverley Hanson in The Archers  and winning the 2016 Norman Beaton Fellowship which led to a 6 month contract with BBC Radio Drama. Her work in TV includes Doctors, The Cure and Jerk.  Her community drama work includes community plays, working with women on probation, young people and groups in residential and day-care settings.  Alison has been dancing since a child and loves tap dancing! 


Emma Waterford 

Emma Waterford is an arts facilitator, actor, improviser and cabaret performer. She is Co Artistic Director of Crows Nest Theatre Company, an Associate Artist of White Rabbit and one third of The Bluestocking Society. As a facilitator she has created workshops for companies including the Southbank Centre, The Royal Albert Hall, Entelechy, The Albany Theatre and The Northfield Arts Forum. She has performed in the West End, UK Tours and recently with Folk Dance Remixed, a company that creates unique fusions between Folk and Hip Hop styles with live music.


Gabriella Gay

Gabriella Gay is a Trinidad-born page-stage poet, artist, teacher and creative producer who is regularly commissioned to perform, write, organise events and facilitate workshops for a wide range of organisations include the BBC and the NHS. She is the founder of Stoke’s Roaming Poets and Kwanzaa Collective UK. She is an associate artist at B-arts, Restoke and a trustee of the New Vic Theatre. Gabriella has made numerous TV and radio appearances and her work features in shows, exhibitions, advertisements and the Visit Stoke official video. Gabriella was the lead writer for You Are Here (2016) a promenade show devised and performed at the Wedgwood Institute which explored intimate and extraordinary journeys of migration, culture and belonging. 

Gabriella is interested in publishing in unusual ways and explored her interest in working in overlooked spaces in her recent TEDx talk (2020) at Keele. In 2019, Gabriella became the Writer in Residence of Hanley car boot sale for six weeks. Underlying all of Gabriella’s written, performed and socially engaged work, is the power of building strong connections and community.


Bethany Rivers 

Beth is an author, poet, tutor and mentor. She has taught creative writing for over 15 years and also runs Mindful Words courses for the bereaved. She has published two poetry pamphlets: the sea refuses no river, from Fly on the Wall Press and Off the wall, from Indigo Dreams Publishing. She has also written a book on the creative writing process, Fountain of Creativity - Ways to Nourish Your Writing, published by Victorina Press. Beth runs offers one-to-one mentoring for anyone who wishes to write and sets up community groups to enhance wellbeing through creativity and literature.