AN ENTREPRENEUR has opened a new dance academy at the age of just 18.

Sophia Elias from East Grinstead officially launched her academy called Nexgen.

It operates out of Solan Fitness, a gym within the Atrium in King Street, East Grinstead.

Sophia started Nexgen in May 2017 when she was only 17.

She has been dancing since the age of two, starting with ballet, contemporary dance and tap.

She later attended local dance schools, including Hayley Bullock’s Street Dance classes, and then trained at Sarah Benton’s Step Up and Sing Academy where she learned musical theatre and singing.

She started Nexgen to inspire others with the same passion for dance as her to get dancing.

She has a very positive go-getter attitude to life and her passion to help youngsters through dance and her love of children led her to create Nexgen.

She said: “One of the reasons I wanted to start Nexgen is that I see too many kids with their heads buried in social media 24/7 or watching TV, and no longer interacting with others.

“Some kids mix with the wrong crowd and sadly get into drugs and alcohol.

“Nexgen gives them something really positive to do in the real world and teaches them a useful skill too.

“But most of all, it’s great fun!.

“So I say ‘Nexgen not Netflix’ and ‘Dancing not Gaming.’

Nexgen started with three students in May but now has around 30.

Dance classes only take place two days a week but the company is growing fast and proving very popular.

Nexgen is so called because Sophia is teaching the Next Generation how to dance.

Brit School graduate Adison Austin joined Nexgen to teach the upper academy for people aged 16 and above.

Sophia’s plan is to introduce performing arts and singing.

She also wants to take Nexgen to London and across the UK as a franchise.

Mum Minie Elias helps Sophia run the business and has played a big part in its success.

Minie is an entrepreneur too who owns Aspiring Angels Professional Ironing Service.

She has run other self-built businesses.