A former pupil of Dromore High School is set to open a new school of his own - a Stage and Media school in Lisburn.
NiStars – the Northern Ireland Studio of Television Arts Radio and Screen is opening the new facility with an Open Day due to be held this Saturday, January 11, from 2pm-5pm in Pond Park Primary School.
NiStars was founded in 2011 by former Dromore High School Pupil Ande Gray – Presenter and Choreographer of CBBC TV show The Culture Club – with his vision being to give young people the opportunities that he didn’t get when he was growing up.
He’s certainly done that with NiStars students having performed at some of the biggest events in the country, including recently at the Belfast City Hall Christmas lights switch on, when 15 of his dancers performed in front of 12,000 people.
“At Dromore High School we had a fantastic Drama department ran by Mrs Ravey,” said Ande. “I still fondly remember our school plays.
“I made my stage debut there when I was 13 in a production of Bugsy Malone. But other than the school plays, we had very little opportunity.
“Since then I have gone on to make a career for myself and now work exclusively in the arts and media industry.”
TV Presenter, Choreographer, Director, Actor and Dancer are just some of the jobs listed on Ande’s lengthy CV – he’s worked for companies such as the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, as well as various professional theatre companies - and his work has taken him all over the UK.
“I had some great mentors growing up that really helped point me in the right direction; and I decided with NiStars it was time to share some of the knowledge I have learnt over the years with the next generation.”
Other noteworthy successes in NiStars portfolio are that of 15 year old Kirstin Aston – who joined NiStars last March after winning the talent show Strand Stars that the company runs, who has since then gone on to appear on both Cool FM and Downtown Radio with her original music, and also support Northern Ireland music legend Peter Corry in concert.
“Kirstin has been a great success story, and she exemplifies everything I tried to achieve when I set up NiStars. Here was a girl who had never sang outside her bedroom before she joined the company because of nerves, and now she’s been heard singing by nearly a million people.
“NiStars isn’t just about performance skills, it’s about giving people the confidence to believe in themselves – and when that works well the results can be fantastic.”
To find out more visit www.nistars.com.