Bendigo Dance

Shining through Dance!

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Andy Banks Photography attends all classes for Photo Week. It's an exciting time to see our concert start to come to life with new costumes!

AUSTRALIAN TEACHERS OF DANCING Examiner Mrs. Penny Butler with our National Character exam candidates at the end of our 2019 Exam day.

Our students are taught using the ATOD System of training and have the option to sit exams each year.


Thankyou to everyone who came along to our first ever Preschool concert yesterday,
READY SET PARTY! We had lots of very proud dancers, teachers and parents! Children as young as 2 years of age performed at JB Osborne Theatre.

You were a truly wonderful audience, we hope we filled your morning with laughter, pride & joy! We are very proud of the children who all behaved beautifully. We hope they enjoyed their morning, even if they were a little shy this time and sat in the audience and watched with their family. Massive thanks to Hannah, Julia, Alyce, Damien, Sheryll, our DanceStep helpers Ali, Sasha, Taylah, Olivia and of course our guest performers who all brought the show together as a team.


Our Senior Ballet & Contemporary students were extremely fortunate to have Teaching Artists from the Sydney Dance Company take their first classes this term! They learnt contemporary technique and reportoire from the upcoming performance of Cinco at Ulumbarra Theatre!


Term 2 commences today!

I hope the holidays were amazing and you got some rest! Welcome to all of our new families, we hope you love SSD as much as we do!

Thankyou to everyone who attended our Easter Festival performance, we had a great attendance and the dancers had fun which is the most important thing!

I had the most amazing 3 days of professional development at Victorian Dance Festival which is always inspiring and great for bringing new elements to our classes. We were extremely fortunate to have The Joffrey Ballet & Travis Wall return from the USA for workshops! Some of the other professional development sessions I undertook at VDF were Anxiety, Well being, Injury prevention & safe dance practices which I will pass on to my team.

Yesterday we had a really powerful day as a Team working on our values, musicality, Examiners notes & expectations for ATOD exams from a recent Training day & finished with lots of fun learning new Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet content for this term! We were happy to welcome our new teacher Jo, who will be teaching all of Zoe's classes (after the commute from Melbourne became to hard with the demands of uni). You can learn more about Jo on our website. 

In the afternoon we had our first DanceStep session with our class assistants which was very rewarding. It is a pleasure to mentor these beautiful young role models and empower them to be leaders at SSD & beyond. I would love more dancers 10 years & over to join our small group and benefit from the DanceStep program.

We finished the day with Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet Taster classes which were filled with lots of fun & joy! Details of our Preschool concert which will be held on Sunday June 23 is in our SSD Ready Set Dance Parents Facebook group. We will be inviting a few extra classes to perform as guests at this concert! Stay tuned!

I have done LOTS of costume shopping over the holidays! If you are paying costume levies, please bring your costume bag to the studio asap (see handbook for details if you need to buy one). 

We are looking forward to an exciting term and trying on lots of costumes!

See you at the studio!

Sincerely, Sharon Saunders

Sydney Dance Company Contemporary Workshop
Sharon Saunders Dancers Studio
Monday April 29 from 6.45pm-8.45pm
Cost $35

Delivered by Sydney Dance Company’s Teaching Artists, students will be offered the unique opportunity to experience how the Company creates and performs new and original movement. Sydney Dance Company will guide participants through a contemporary technique warm-up, teach company repertoire and lead participants through a composition task utilised by the Company to generate new movement for Rafael Bonachela’s work Cinco.

This workshop is also open to dancers throughout Central Victoria.

Limited places available through Trybooking. Minimum age 11 years.

SSD Families please read details on Movitae or Email regarding participation.

Photo credit: Pedro Greig

We couldn't be more excited! We are now the Official location for Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet in Bendigo! After 12 months of fun with Ready Set Dance we have decided to extend our preschool program for budding ballerinas!

Ready Set Ballet is a magical 30 minute ballet program for 2-5 year olds! Check out our website page for details.

Ready Set Dance started on Nick Jnr on January 21 and we are fortunate enough to have lots of new content to teach this year!

To find out more click here and sign up for more information if desired.

Maiden Gully Carols 2018

Our Ready Set Dance kids were so great performing at the carols in December. Who would have thought that so many shy children would jump up on stage and perform so confidently in such a short time. Huge thanks to their teachers and Ready Set Dance central for creating an incredible program!

Dear Teachers, Dancers, Families & Friends,

I would like to extend a huge thank you to each and everyone of you who helped make our concert so wonderful! 

I honestly could not be prouder. Each and every group was well prepared by my amazing team, confident & performed to a very high standard for their age group. Even our Ready Set Dance and Enchanted Kids were confident on stage (and so adorable)! Big hugs to James who missed the performance due to sudden illness.

Our senior students performed at a new level! On Friday Emma asked them to perform like they were on a Cruise ship and I continued to remind them on Saturday. They came out and nailed it with some very challenging choreography and had a ball! This year they were introduced to heels and it wasn't easy. It's a whole new ball game performing in heels, especially with such a fast routine! They were a bit worried if they could make it, but they certainly did! Next year they will perform a heel routine in their Elementary Jazz exam. That will be a breeze now!

Driving home to Barham this morning I was reflecting on how strong all age groups have become and of course credit goes to our teachers but I also feel that the huge improvement has come from the past 3 years studying the ATOD Syllabus. Also the amount of Professional Development and Team Training I have invested in during that time. The other factor is Movitae. This resource is invaluable and ensures teachers can access the syllabus 24/7, students can also access their exercises they need to practice plus catch up or practice new choreography. The ATOD syllabus is world renowned, professional and progressive which ensures every student is receiving a quality dance education by qualified educators. In a country where dance is not regulated this is very important. We teach Safe Dance practices in a Child Safe environment. Our children from 2 year olds with Ready Set Dance through to Adults are in safe hands. Ready Set Dance isn't just heaps of fun it is created and approved by Dance and Preschool professionals to have learning outcomes for every song. We are in a very exciting phase with Nickelodeon investing heavily in the program. Our ATOD affiliation ensures our children from Test 1 through to Teachers are given age appropriate content that is sequential and moves dancers through levels to become strong confident dancers and people!

Once again I must thank my wonderful teaching team! I can honestly say that we have a cohesive and supportive group of beautiful people who support each other and me! They live our values, care for their students and spend countless unpaid hours preparing each year. They will be creating over the holidays and thinking ahead for 2019! I am thrilled to have all teachers continuing and excited to have Annaliese & Zoe joining our team with the support of regular guest teachers Peta Hungerford, David Williams & Ash Rokesky. I cant forget to thank our Class Assistant and Leadership Program participants who help every week and at special events like exam weekend and the concert. They are a wonderful support to teachers and students.

Thanks to the parents for entrusting your children to us. It is an absolute honour and privilege to be given the gift of having a small or often much bigger part in their development whether it be for a few months or 20 plus years! We hope you feel part of our SSD Family. Thanks for all the beautiful grooming, getting to class on time and of course reading your concert handbook (you can put that away now) and keeping up to date with news and emails!

To my dancers, thankyou so very much for listening, being prepared, coming to class when it was a challenge to get there, being kind, trying your hardest and making SSD a beautiful place to be. You should be so proud of yourselves. To my older students remember the level you performed at and make that your standard from now on. Don't settle for just practising in class, treat every exercise and run through as a performance and the sky is the limit!!!

Huge thanks to the Backstage crew, we could not do it without generous people like you! You sacrifice watching your child from the theatre, run all day and night and make sure it looks effortless to get the dancers on stage. We know that couldn't be further from the truth and it takes great team work and coordination! I know you would have been tired on Sunday too!

I would love for you to comment on social media or movitae about your favourite concert memory! Those moments are precious and I would love to share them. I will share lots of photos from the past few weeks and at the Theatre (with the help of Kellie) over the coming weeks.

Much love, Sharon Saunders

Ready Set TV!

Recently Sharon Saunders attended the Ready Set Dance conference in Sydney and met some of the Nickelodeon family! 

We are super thrilled to be going on this exciting journey with Nickelodeon and Ready Set Dance! We will continue to focus on the 3 C's Coordination, creativity and confidence and encourage all preschool parents to check out this incredible program that recently won the BEST NATIONAL ACTIVITY FOR PRESCHOOLERS at the What's on for kids awards! 


We are very privileged to have David Williams join our Team as a Guest Teacher. David has just returned from Camp Protege in Canada with Stacey Tookey and Kathryn Mc Cormack, 2 of our favourite instructors from the USA whom we met at Victorian Dance Festival. 

Read all about David on our Team page.


SSD Ballet & Contemporary teacher Emma attended Come Together Dance Convention on the Gold Coast recently. The event is run every 2 years by The Australian Teachers of Dancing to bring together educators and dancers from all associations. The weekend was full of industry leaders including Paul Malek, Lisa Howell & Mark Pace (to name a few). 

We are committed to our Child Safe Policy and professional development. Emma will pass on her learnings to our teachers to ensure safe dance practices continue at our Team Training this term. She is pictured here with Mark Pace after a practical class.

MARK PACE – Guest Presenter and Dance Instructor

Teaching Fellow, Professional Dancer, Dance Academic

Mark Pace has over 30 years of dancing, teaching and guesting experience in various international ballet companies, school settings and has spoken at various conferences.

He is a professional dancer and dance academic, currently teaching with the University of Edinburgh as a Teaching Fellow on the programme MSc in Dance Science and Education. He is currently in his first year as a PhD student with the University of Edinburgh and holds a Masters in Dance Science and Education with Distinction (UoE), a BA (Hons) in Dance Education (University of Surrey), the State Dance Diploma (DE) and Certificate of Aptitude (CA) from France and a Diploma for Dance Teaching and Management (ATOD).

Originally from Australia, Mark began as a student with Julie Ryan, later studying under Gailene Stock and Gary Norman. At the age of 16 he was accepted in to the Australian Ballet School where after only one year joined the Australian Ballet under the direction of Maina Gielgud where he reached the rank of soloist by the age of 21. Later awarded a grant to study at The Paris Opera School, Mark performed internationally with the Australian Ballet (Melbourne) later joining Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Bayerisches Staatsballett, and finishing his career with the Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin.

Other dance projects include international guesting, coaching, creating and assisting choreographers with ballet companies such as the Paris Opera, Shanghai Ballet, Central Ballet of China, National Ballet of Vietnam, among others.

As a pedagogue, Mark’s work includes many educational roles, teaching dance in vocational and non-vocational school settings and higher education. He has also taught primary and secondary schools students in France and Australia creative movement and choreography by developing a practice that employs links to the industry and brings importance of theory in to practice.

Mark is currently one of the leading advisers revising the classical ballet syllabus for the Australian Teachers of Dancing (ATOD) and has sat on various juries for dance including Diplome d’Etat and EAT in France. He has also been a member of various funding commissions including the Commission Interregional for Dance and the Ballet de l’Opéra National du Rhin.

LISA HOWELL – Workshop Presenter

Physiotherapist, Ballet Specialist, International Speaker, Trainer

Lisa Howell is the owner and creator of Perfect Form Physiotherapy. She started the practice in 2005 with the mission to create the highest quality physical therapy care in a nurturing environment. Lisa’s focus is on education to prevent injury and maximise performance rather than waiting for injury to occur.  In addition, she creates resources and presents workshops focused on empowering dancers to heal themselves.

Lisa has a strong personal history in many forms of dance and is well respected both nationally and internationally for her work with young dancers, professional dancers and dance teachers. At the 2007 IADMS conference her poster on pre-pointe assessment was joint-winner of the award for the poster making “The Greatest Contribution to Dance Medicine” and she continues to develop programmes to educate and inspire young dancers to become the best that they can possible be.

Lisa is also a qualified instructor in The Pilates Method and has had extensive personal involvement in various forms of Dance and Yoga. Throughout her professional studies and career, she has continued her involvement with dance and uses her personal experience as a constant learning tool to advance her knowledge.

Lisa started her main

website  in 2008. This site is an amazing resource for any dancer, and is dedicated to helping dancers all over the world fulfil their potential by enhancing their technique and preventing injury!

The site has all kinds of free information including videos, articles and quick tips to help dancers perform at their peak potential. It also provides access to all of the dance education resources developed by Lisa, including: The Perfect Pointe Book, Front Splits Fast and The Teacher Manual.

Today, Lisa runs workshops and speaks at conventions globally and has published over 15 programmes and 20 different workshops to accelerate performance and prevent injury. She  runs a blog that inspired 300,000 people last year, and has been featured on the 7:30 programme broadcast by the ABC to educate on the risks of overstretching. More than 550 teachers from 22 different countries have completed her Level 1 teacher training, and she constantly strives to provide the information and resources to help all dancers achieve their dreams.

PAUL MALEK – Guest Presenter and Dance Instructor

Artistic Director and Founder, Transit Dance, Entrepreneur, Choreographer, Inspirational Speaker, Motivator

Paul Malek’s passion lies in creation, youth dance, multimedia and the development of opportunities for Australia and world dance. As the Artistic Director and Founder of Transit Dance in Melbourne, this prolific entrepreneur, is the mastermind behind such dance businesses as Underground, Immersed Melbourne Dance Industry Gala, Dance Chat, Project Y, Boom Media, Collaboration The Project and Project Base.

Paul’s choreographic credits include, So You Think You Can Dance Australia, (SEO 3 and 4), Dancing with the Stars, Yours Truly, Hair the Musical, and a plethora of highly acclaimed theatrical dance productions. As Artistic Director of Transit Dance Company he has received outstanding reviews for his last two dance works, BOYZ (Midsumma Festival 2016) and Every Inch of Me (2015).

Actively engaged in the Australian dance community, Malek was the artistic director of The Victorian Dance Festival from 2012 – 2017, and an active board member of Australian Teachers of Dancing International. An inspirational speaker and motivator, he is also a much loved MC, hosting not only the Victorian Dance Festival, but the Come Together Dance Convention, Underground, Dance Chat Live, and Immersed Dance Industry Night. He also hosts empowering workshops at various companies, dance schools, high schools and primary schools across Australia.


After an another incredible weekend at Victorian Dance Festival we will be attending VDF Warrnambool! 

Travis is the winner of the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography. He was the runner-up for the Fox reality show So You Think You Can Dance Season 2, and is currently a resident choreographer for the national dance competition show. He is a five-time Emmy nominated choreographer for his work on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. He choreographed the music video for Carrie Underwood's "Something In The Water", which won the CMT Video of the Year, as well as stage shows for Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato. Additional TV credits include choreographing the 82nd Academy Awards, Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Special on ABC, the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and an episode of Pretty Little Liars featuring Maddie Ziegler. Feature Film credits include choreography for The Wedding Ringer starring Kevin Hart and the contemporary numbers for the feature film Step Up Revolution. He had the privilege of working with First Lady, Michelle Obama on her Let's Move Campaign where he created the GimmeFive routine that was performed on Ellen and at The White House. Travis teaches with NUVO Dance Convention. @TravisWall.

On this weeks episode of The Business of Dance Podcast, I have as my guest the wonderful and talented Sharon Saunders of Sharon Saunders Dancers. We get to learn more about Sharon and dive into our favourite tech tools as studio owners as well as branding tips! To listen to this episode simply visit:…/business-of-dance-p…/id1276431018

Once again we are heading to Victorian Dance Festival to be educated and inspired by Australia and the worlds leading dancers, choreographers and educators. VDF is an important part of our professional development each year to ensure we continue to evolve our dance classes and be up to date with the latest resources, technology, dancewear, resources, safe dance practices and choreography!

Dancers 8 years and over are encouraged to join us! Full details here.

Sharon Saunders Dancers, Bendigo have gone digital!


We are thrilled to be able to extend and enhance our student’s learning with Movitae’s digital technology made especially for dance schools. Movitae enables us to communicate and share the latest school information, class videos and notices with our school community quickly and easily, and means you have everything in one place! Teachers will be sharing the latest conditioning exercises, class techniques and practice assistance which students can access from home or anywhere!


Our Movitae online environment empowers parents to participate in the learning process and allows us to develop the potential of every student whatever point they are at in their dance journey.


Access is given to new students after their first class when they have confirmed enrolment with payment.

Content can be shared each week with individual students, classes or the whole school. This allows teachers to share their latest exercises or steps directly to the class and ensure the students retain the knowledge through home practice.

To find out more about Movitae go to

Follow them on social media for updates and more information.

Sharon Saunders Dancers- Paint the Stage!

Ulumbarra Theatre- November 25 2017

Our dancers certainly filled the stage with colour and excitement at Ulumbarra Theatre! It was a joy to see so many excited dancers in the weeks leading up to the concert and definitely at the theatre!

Our 2018 Concert Date is Saturday November 24 at 7pm.

Ministry of Dance Workshops

Recently we visited Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance in North Melbourne. SSD Students aged between 6-17 all joined together in 2 fantastic classes. We started with a Jazz Technique class which was very valuable and enjoyable. Then dancers were challenged and loved learning intricate chorey from Mary Poppins!

As a studio owner I was so proud of all of the students who participated. There were all from varied ages and abilities and worked so well together. 

Thankyou to the parents who gave the children the opportunity to join us. A group of our dancers had an exciting detour on the way home. They had snow fights on Mt Macedon!

We are heading to Melbourne!

We are very excited to announce that we have been invited to Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance for 2 free workshops!!!! 

SSD students (7 years & over) can book at the studio for Sunday August 27 2017 Jazz and Musical Theatre 11am-1pm.

Contemporary Workshop- May 201

With Adam Wheeler - creator of ATOD Contemporary Syllabus 

BIO: Adam Wheeler had just joined the Team at Transit Dance. He is a Stompin’ & Victorian College of the Arts Alumni. Adam’s passion is in the development of youth and emerging dance practice. The future of a strong and vibrant Australian contemporary arts landscape is in our next generation of dance makers and thinkers. Throughout the last 15 years he has founded Yellow Wheel, Victoria’s premier pre-professional dance company and is an Artistic Associate of Stompin’. Adam has also created and produced dance works with companies such as Chunky Move, Tasdance, 2NDTOE , Yellow Wheel , Stompin’, Steps, QL2 and Fling Physical Theatre.

Other career highlights include performing in Opera Australia’s The Ring Cycle (2013), the Australian Ballet’s Out There Project, Festival Directing Short+Sweet Dance Melbourne/Sydney and The Australian Youth Dance Festival and developing a Contemporary System of Training for the Australian Teachers of Dancing, which is now taught all over Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Celebrating 25 years of Love

Ulumbarra Theatre Bendigo- Saturday November 26 2016 – Sharon Saunders shared her feelings of ‘why’ she still loves running her dance school and explains the many benefits of dance that go far beyond the steps. This is a copy of her speech to the audience of over 500 people and 150 dancers and crew.

Each year I try to rush through presentations so everyone can get home early but tonight I would like to take a few minutes to share with you ‘Why’ I do what I do.

This is the condensed version!

We are all here tonight because my parents paid for me to learn to dance. From 4 years of age, mum drove me to ballet class each week. She bought me a beauty case, which I still have to keep my ballet shoes in. She did my hair, made my costumes and drove me to ballet exams nearly an hour away. She took me to Bloch arcade in Melbourne to buy my first tutu. I started running dance concerts at home! Little did mum know 30 years later she would still be making costumes, but in troupes sets and she would still be watching my dance concerts!

Fast forward many more years I travelled to Peter Faux Dance Ensemble and met the man who made a huge impact on my life and yours! Without Peter’s knowledge, faith and guidance I doubt we would be here tonight. He taught me so much more than dance as I hope we do for all of you. Dance can certainly change lives.

25 years ago I was a young mum and decided to run some classes at Marong. My husband Damien said that’s ok as long as it doesn’t affect the family!!!

It kind of did and it hasn’t always been easy. There are always challenges and there have been a few times when he would have loved to tell me to give it up but he loves me and knows that Dance is my life! I wouldn’t be who I am today without my dance school. It is in my blood and I love it. I have to thank Damien, Jackson and Alyce for being so supportive. You are the ones who allow me to do what I love. Alyce is following in my foot steps and teaching in Ballarat. She is also making a huge difference to the lives of downs syndrome dancers at emotion 21.

Why do I continue to love dance?

I find it really hard to put into one sentence.
There are so many reasons and here are just a few:

It’s about the little girl who wakes up and says “mummy is it Monday today’? Because she knows Monday is dancing day and she will have her leotard on before breakfast!

It’s about the new student who was too shy to join in or speak to us who is on stage here tonight.

It’s about the student who joyfully dances down the aisles of IGA for all the world to see.

It’s about the young dancer who puts on concerts at home just like I did must to my brothers disgust. He will never forget them!

It’s about your child who happily tap dances around the house and drives you crazy! They are off the couch and living life!

It’s about giving opportunities to others. I had the pleasure of inviting Marc Brew to teach at our school after he became a paraplegic and now he is changing the world of integrative dance and working worldwide.

It’s about the friendships that are forged at SSD. Unlike school, many students progress through their dance classes together and strong bonds develop. So many students and dancers will be life long friends.

It’s about nurturing dancers to be confident, resilient, and hard working people. It’s about building strong young adults who can make great choices and keep out of trouble.

It’s about the joy dance can bring to ladies who come to class each week and forget about their problems. They can challenge themselves and have fun with friends all while exercising and laughing!

It’s about families like Lois and Chris Mc Bain who brought their eldest daughter Ashlea to me over 20 years ago and are still coming to dancing each week with their youngest child Hannah. Their grandparents never missed a concert. It is such an honour to be trusted throughout a childhood.

It’s about the 4 year old who was a little lion in one of our early concerts. Now that young girl has blossomed into a bubbly, much loved teacher. Steph now teaches her mum in the ladies class.

Its’ about the community we have built at SSD where we support each other in good times and difficult times.

Quite simply it’s about the little dancer who proudly says to me ‘I did it’! Yes you did and I am so proud of you!

I wasn’t the best dancer in the class and I was probably the shyest. I loved dance and worked hard to be the best I could be. I will never stop learning and am constantly looking for opportunities to grow as a teacher and share my knowledge with my staff and students’. Dance has made me the person I am today.

I know dance will make a difference to us all.

If each dancer takes away one life skill or special memory we have done our job. It may be as simple as having confidence in their first job interview or to stand out for their beautiful grooming and poise. Dance sets us up for a lifetime of opportunities and as Paul Malek says– Endless Possibilities! I want to sincerely thank you all for allowing me to do what I love everyday!

Sharon Saunders


Affiliate ATOD

ATOD Exam day Bronze Medal examinees with Mrs Witchell - October 2016