OUR TEACHERS

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

BCA; Reg. AJDA
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

BA; RAD RTS; RYT200
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.

Bethany Edridge

BappA; DipPA

Bethany has loved the Arts since she was a child. Throughout her school career she completed exams in RAD Advanced Ballet, NZAMD Contemporary, AJDA Solo Seal Jazz and attained her AJDA Junior Jazz Teachers’ Certificate.

Having taught since her high school years, Bethany strives to use a holistic approach to dance, in order to nurture confident learners who are self-disciplined, self-motivated and strive for the best that they can achieve. She believes in using the role of dance to aid the development of the whole person; producing responsible dancers who go out into with world with a positive outlook, behave in a professional, diligent manner and above all have self-confidence.

While teaching and dancing at the studio since 2010, Bethany also completed her Diploma in Musical Theatre and her Bachelor of Applied Arts, Performing Arts, majoring in Commercial Dance. Bethany has performed as a singer/dancer in many musical productions and has choreographed for musicals at Taupo-Nui-a-Tia College, Wellington College and Queen Margaret College.

2016 saw Bethany complete her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies.  In 2017 Bethany undertook further study, this time in Radiation Therapy.  Although this meant a different direction in career path, she feels fortunate she is still able to continue her passion for dance and teaching during her study at LOD Dance.

Fiona Hulands

Fiona trained as a dancer from the age of nine, in ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary. Australian born, Fiona moved to New Zealand at age 16 to train at the New Zealand School of Dance completing her Diploma in Dance Performance. After graduation, she went on to danced professionally in Australia, Japan and the United States.

Highlights of her career included performing principal and soloist roles for Mystic Ballet CT USA including Brian Enos contemporary piece Os Quindos de Ya Ya .

Fiona has previously taught in Australia, the United States and most recently in Berlin as part of the Royal Academy of Dance Berlin Summer School.

Fiona has completed her her Professional Dancers Postgraduate Teaching Certificate through the Royal Academy of Dance. She is excited about extending this knowledge to all the LOD students.

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.

Gabriella Mersi

Gabriella began dancing when she was four years old at Andrea Pender Dance Academy, continuing on with Natalie and Marina as a new chapter began and LOD Dance Studios formed. Growing up she completed exams in both RAD Ballet and AJDA Jazz and took part in the Junior Associate programme at NZSD.

Continuing in her chosen field of Contemporary dance, Gabriella went on to full-time training and completed a degree at UNITEC in Auckland.

Gabriella is an active member of the contemporary dance community here in Wellington, and is also currently studying with Polestar Pilates. She is excited to share her passion and knowledge with the students at LOD, and to nurture and encourage all those who find joy in movement.

Shenna Dunn

Canadian born dancer Shenna Dunn has been pursuing her passion for dance since the age of four. Currently in her third and final year of Commercial Dance training at Te Auaha – The New Zealand Institute of Creativity, she is working towards a Degree in Performing Arts. Shenna loves the opportunity to dance every day, improving her technique, performance and choreography skills in many genres of dance.

In 2018 she has had the opportunity to perform choreographer Malia Johnston’s ‘Art of Colour’ in the opening ceremony of Te Auaha. In 2017, she was Dance Captain for Whitireia’s First Year Commercial Dance show, having the responsibility of overseeing 14 dancers in 21 numbers. Shenna choreographed a lyrical jazz piece, ‘Lost in a Book’, which was chosen to be performed in the Year One Commercial Dance Show.

Shenna has danced with LOD Studios since 2003, training in RAD Ballet from Pre-Primary to Grade 8, RAD Vocational Ballet Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate Levels, and in AJDA Jazz from Introductory Level 3 to Advanced Level 2. LOD provided the foundation for her dance skills and cultivated her passion for dancing. She now enjoys the opportunity to teach dance, encouraging a love of dance in the younger students.

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 continues her study at Te Auaha, working towards 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.

Emma Western

Emma began her training as a dancer at the age of 5 in Palmerston North. Starting with Ballet and then leading onto other styles of Jazz, Contemporary and Tap, her passion for dance blossomed.

Growing up she participated in many competitions around the North Island, winning many awards and scholarships to further her dance career. She has trained in RAD Ballet, completing her Advanced 2 level and sat many NZAMD Modern Exams, recently completing her Solo Jazz Diploma.

Emma is currently studying at Whitireia, and will complete her Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) and Bachelor of Creativity in 2019. She hopes after finishing her degree to go to the West End in London, following her passion for performing and making a name for herself.

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