All our teachers strive to instil confidence & a love of dance in all their students. Their experience & backgrounds allow them to maintain a positive & nurturing learning environment.

Marina Macfarlane

Director, Principal Jazz Teacher

A registered American Jazz Affiliation Teacher, Marina has been teaching Jazz at all levels since 2001, and has also directed, choreographed and managed many dance shows over the years.

Just like many of her students today, Marina started dancing from primary school age, and carried on right through high school. She completed examinations in RAD ballet, character, and ISTD Jazz. As a university student she managed to find time to dance in the Oomph Dancers’ Troupe for TV’s Ready to Roll music show in the early eighties, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce & Administration Degree. At that time, she also performed at the opening of the Michael Fowler Centre and the NZ Music awards.

Marina continued on to teach aerobics for ten years in New Zealand and England, representing Britain in the World Group Aerobic Championships in Sao Paolo in 1990.

Marina regularly up-skills her knowledge by attending teacher’s courses, workshops and conferences, including IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine and Science), various Pilates and Dance Conditioning workshops, and most recently a Franklin Method Workshop with Morton Dithmer.

Marina is a very experienced teacher who has a great understanding of how to bring out the best in each student, from the very young through to teenagers and adults, helping them to achieve their potential in an enjoyable, yet well structured environment.  Marina is also mum to Daniella, and aunt to several past and present LOD dancers and current teachers, including Milvia & Gabriella.  She has been privileged to be part of her daughter and nieces’ dance journeys, through LOD Dance Studios, into further dance training and as part of the LOD family.

Natalie Woodhall

Director, Principal Ballet Teacher (RAD RTS)

Natalie has loved to dance for as long as she can remember, and throughout her schooling completed her RAD ballet exams, and also her advanced level jazz exams. After being accepted into full-time training at the New Zealand School of Dance, she decided to complete her RAD Certificate in Ballet Training Studies & become a qualified ballet teacher. Along with her dance background, Natalie also has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology & criminology. This extended study in areas including childhood developmental psychology and music history has also proven to be very useful in the dance studio.

Natalie has over 15 years worth of teaching experience under her belt, but also firmly believes in the importance of continuing her professional development. She regularly attends courses with leading dance professionals & is passionate about passing on this knowledge.  Most recently, this included workshops with Lisa Howell, Morton Dithmer of the Franklin Method as well regular RAD teaching seminars.  A couple of years ago she decided to put herself back into the student seat, and completed her Intermediate 3 AJDA Jazz exam gaining honours with distinction.  Natalie has also recently completed her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training with NZ Yoga Collective NZ.

Natalie strives to be a consistently motivating teacher, developing in her students a passion and love of dance that, with the right nurturing will continue to grow. She has also been an RAD Mentor for CBTS & PDPTC teacher trainees.  She has found this new challenge inspiring & loves being able to support the next generation of quality dance educators as well as dancers.

Natalie is also mum to Daisy, who has recently begun her own dance journey – being one of the first students to begin our Ready Set Dance pre-school programme, and subsequently our Let’s Dance Combo class.

Milvia Mersi

Milvia has been dancing since she was four years old. Over the years she has completed her RAD ballet examinations and achieved her solo seal in AJDA in 2012.

Milvia started teaching ballet with Natalie while studying a BCom degree in Accounting and Commercial Law at Victoria University & immediately fell in love with it. During the course of the last ten years Milvia has developed a real passion for teaching both ballet and jazz.  She has since completed her RAD Teacher Registration and Junior Jazz Teaching Certificate.  Milvia is known for her passion and warmth in the studio, especially with our junior students.

Daniella Macfarlane

Daniella fell in love with dancing at the age of 6. Since then she has completed examinations for RAD Ballet and AJDA Jazz, receiving the NZ Top Student Award for AJDA Advanced 1, Advanced 2 & Advanced Solo.

In 2005, Daniella was accepted into the NZSD Regional Associate and Junior Associate Programmes, training as a Classical Major. She then went to Sydney in 2014 for full-time dance training, completing the Certificate IV in Dance at Ettingshausens Pro.

Her professional dance career has seen her work as a Production Cast Dancer for Celebrity Cruises. She was a Specialty Dancer in the inaugural cast for the Celebrity Equinox in 2015-2016, and was chosen to perform as a Lyra Aerialist in the ‘Elysium’ Production Show. Then in 2017 she danced for the Celebrity Millennium.

In 2018 she completed her Polestar Pilates Mat Teacher Training Course.

Daniella is now in Auckland dancing commercially for Diamond Entertainment (so keep an eye out for her if you’re in the area!). She is excited to be furthering her dance career and we look forward to having her guest-teach at L.O.D. to pass on her industry knowledge and experience, and her passion for dancing.

Kim Ongley

Working as a dental hygienist might be Kim’s fulltime job, but her lifelong passion is Ballet.   Kim has danced right from an early age, and has continued to dance through adulthood.  She studied RAD Ballet at a Vocational level through high school and also went on to sit her RAD Grade 7 and 8 through LOD Dance as an adult student.

Being inspired by numerous ballet teachers, Kim decided a few years ago to complete her RAD Teachers Training, gaining her CBTS in 2016 and was excited to be offered a position with LOD.  Kim understands the importance of continuing professional development, and has since attended the RAD International seminar, with guest tutors that included Lisa Howell as well courses with RNZB for the past 2 years.  This extended growth means she can continue to inspire the next generation of dancers.

Kim is passionate about passing on her love of dance, and always has time for her energetic and enthusiastic students.

Beth Sammons

Beth was born and raised in Hamilton. There she started Jazz at age of 7 and shortly thereafter added Ballet to her studies. As Beth got older her passion for dance flourished due to her family’s loving encouragement for her expressing herself through art. Due to this support it was only a natural step for her to pick up Tap, Contemporary and Hip Hop leading Beth to study at Limelight Dance Academy for 11 years.

Beth finished her studies at Te Auaha in 2019, earning a  Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance). She would like to one day perform in a variety of areas in entertainment, as she enjoys being part of a magical atmosphere. Beth finds her passion in creation and hopes to choreograph well into her future.

Tayla Hunt

Tayla has always had dreams of becoming a professional dancer and began taking lessons at the age of 4 in Hamilton. For 16 years she trained extensively in RAD ballet and NZAMD jazz, contemporary and hip-hop. She then moved on to full time dance training in Wellington and has recently completed her third year in the Commercial Dance course at Te Auaha where she will graduate with a Degree in Performing Arts.

Since making the move to Wellington Tayla has had the pleasure of being a part of many performance opportunities including performing as a soloist in ‘Women of the Wood” directed by Leigh Evans, “The Art of Colour” by Malea Johnston, a music video for the American duo “Euringer” and most recently putting on her own show “Menace”. She has also performed in the annual Cuba Dupa festival and her First Year Commercial Dance show.

As she has currently finished her training, Tayla hopes to take everything she has learnt over the past few years and pass it on to future students.

Megan Hayes

Megan has been dancing since she was five years old, starting with jazz and picking up tap in her early teens. She has completed her AJDA exams up to Advanced 1 Jazz and Level 7 Tap, and her passion and hard work provided an opportunity to assist with teaching with the junior tap classes at her dance school for several years.

Her studies took her to Dunedin where she undertook a BA in English literature and computer science, and brought her musicality and performance flair to a local taiko drumming group; her dream is to one day orchestrate and choreograph a collaborative tap-taiko number. Returning to Wellington, she picked up tap lessons again, and is working towards her AJDA Level 8 exam this year.

Megan has a passion for performance and loves the fun and freedom of dancing. Her favourite thing about teaching is encouraging confidence in her students, as well as introducing them to the fun of tap.