Bendigo Dance

Shining through Dance!

Our Team at Sharon Saunders Dancers Bendigo

All employees have a working with children check and current First Aid qualifications. 

We are committed to ongoing learning and professional development and Child Safety Standards.

Sharon Saunders -Owner/Principal

Sharon grew up in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, she began dancing at the age of three years. Sharon studied Jazz, Tap, Ballet and Calisthenics. In later years her biggest influence in dance was studying Classical Ballet and Jazz with Peter Faux of Peter Faux Dance Ensemble in Melton. She also loved Youth Theatre and was involved in many productions as an actor and dancer.

Sharon discovered her love for teaching at the age of 17 when she started assistant teaching with Peter Faux; she married and moved to Bendigo in 1988 and started a family soon after. Sharon has worked in Pharmacy and cosmetics, also as a host with Humphrey B Bear, and as a dance teacher for over 30 years!

In 1992 Sharon opened her own dance school in Marong Hall. From there the school grew with a second school at Healthworks in Kangaroo Flat. The Marong and Kangaroo Flat studios grew rapidly while under her direction and soon merged in Kangaroo Flat. Sharon later built her own purpose built studio in Kangaroo Flat where they still are today. Sharon was a member of The Australian Theatrical Dance Inc for 20 years. Sharon is now an Affiliate member to The Australian Teachers of Dancing Limited and excited to share their syllabi with her students and take advantage of their ongoing professional development opportunities. Sharon is also the Licence holder of Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet in Bendigo & winner of the 2019 Golden Twirl Award!

Sharon loves all aspects of dance; it is her life! She is honoured to share her passion of dance with others – this is evident through the countless number of students who have danced until adulthood at SSD and worked as teachers). Lifelong friendships are constantly formed by Parents and students at SSD. Sharon’s mission was always to provide quality dance education in a caring and friendly environment.

Sharon continues to run SSD with great passion and enjoyment. She also keeps a close eye on all dancers often relief teaching different classes and is always working behind the scenes to ensure our SSD runs smoothly and efficiently!

“… I love to share my love of dance with children and am grateful to the parents who entrust their children to my care. It is an absolute joy to watch young children grow in dance, life skills and confidence! So many Magic Moments."

Hannah Mc Bain -Teacher 

Hannah has been a dedicated student at Sharon Saunders Dancers since she was 2 years old. She was born into our SSD Family as her sister Ashlea was a student for many years too, meaning her parents have been at SSD for well over 20 years!

Hannah has been a student of SSD for 18 years & is currently studying Hairdressing. Hannah studied the Australian Theatrical Dance & Australian Teachers of Dancing Syllabus in Classical Ballet and Jazz Ballet genres. She was a student assistant teacher and worked closely with Sharon for 12 months prior to teaching for the past 2 years. Hannah has built a great rapport with students and parents and adores our school! She is an adored teacher in our Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet classes. Hannah was a finalist in the READY SET BALLET Teacher of the year 2019.

Julia Wellard -Teacher 

Julia began dancing at the age of 5 and has been following her passion for dance ever since at Ann Maree Dancers & Start Studio. Dancing is her most favourite thing in the world and enjoys sharing her enthusiasm with her students, as well as helping them grow into beautiful dancers. This is Julia’s second year teaching at Sharon Saunders Dancers, and cannot wait to see what this year brings after loving every second of teaching last year. Julia loves every style of dance there is from modern contemporary to Broadway jazz; however, her favourite style of all time is tap! Julia holds a Tap Dancing Diploma with the Australian Academy of Theatrical & Ballet Dancing syllabus. She recently performed in Bendigo Theatre Company's 'Wicked' and is excited to pass on her Musical Theatre Skills to her students.

Julia’s vision for her teaching is to not teach dance as sport, but instead as art. Julia believes dance is a beautiful form of physical art rather than sport and wishes to educate her students of how dance should be paired with passion and emotions. Julia has been teaching at SSD for 3 years and will be teaching Hip Hop, Tap, Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet in 2020.

Annaleise Gaffney- Teacher

Annaleise began her dance journey at age 3, training in all styles at her local dance school (Beverley Margaret School of Dance) in Rockingham, WA. When Annaleise was 15 she decided that her interests lied heavily in ballet and went on to complete her Advanced 1 Borovansky exam and received Honours and a scholarship for the following year. Around the same time contemporary dance was introduced into her training. Finding something new she enjoyed and found incredibly interesting Annaleise then continued her journey in contemporary dance and it became her main focus. Completing most ATOD exams by 2016, she graduated high school and then started at Transit Dance at age 18 in Melbourne, VIC. Currently, Annaleise has just completed her second year of full-time contemporary (Diploma of Dance Elite Performance) under the guidance of Transit Dance faculty. 

Whilst pursuing dance as a full-time career, Annaleise's other interests include teaching, choreography, photography and videography. Annaleise loves teaching and sharing her knowledge amongst her students, she considers then family. 

Johanna Chapman- Teacher

Jo has been training in dance her whole life in Adelaide, and has recently moved to Bendigo from Darwin. 

After completing her two most recent major Cecchetti exams as a student-teacher, she has spent the past 5 years teaching classes of all ages and genres, including Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop and more. Jo is in her final year of studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education. 

In 2020 she will teach Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Ready Set Dance & Ready Set Ballet.

Emma Brown - Relief Teacher

Emma is a classically trained singer and dancer, having studied Cecchetti Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz with Julie Heydon and Bendigo Dance Academy for 16years, and singing with Marjory Somerville for 8years. Emma has performed in many local Community Theatre Productions and has also won countless awards in Eisteddfods over many years. Emma works full-time as a hairdresser and makeup artist in Bendigo. Emma has been our ballet and contemporary teacher for many years and will be a backup for us in 2020 as our relief teacher in all genres.

Early Childhood Advisor - Alyce Saunders

Alyce has been a member of SSD since before she was born! As the daughter of Sharon she has been an integral part of SSD and working behind the scenes for over 10 years (particularly ensuring our concert runs smoothly)!. She has been a Dance teacher for Emotion 21 working with Downs syndrome children & Adults. Also teaching at Dancemakers Ballarat and at SSD before moving north. Alyce is an Early Childhood teacher in NSW and works on administrative tasks and is a backup teacher if required for Ready Set Dance. 

Alyce adores teaching young children and loves to get back and teach dance when the opportunity arises. She understands the huge benefits of dance education for preschoolers & particularly the Ready Set Dance Program. She is an advisor to our Ready Set Dance Team.

Anita Scott - Guest Teacher

Anita began dance training with the Solymossy Russian Dance School and then Victorian Ballet School Fitzroy with Dianne Parrington, Arthur Turnbull and Luba Baksheev in RAD, Russian Classical, Contemporary (Martha Graeme Technique) and Russian Folkloric Dance. Went on to study and train fulltime at the National Theatre Ballet School St. Kilda with Gailene Stock, Gary Norman and Michaela Kirkaldie. Directed and/or choreographed plays, musicals and dance throughout Primary and Secondary School whilst being involved in many Free-Entertainment in the Park (FEIP) and Moomba events. Attended the Australian Film and Television school with Bob Phillips and had extensive experience in film and television including appearing in Good Guy/Bad Guy with Jackie Chan and Man from Snowy River. Appeared in many episodes of Man from Snowy River, Neighbours, Snowy, State Coroner, and recently in the American film series ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Glitch’.

Studied stage makeup at the National Theatre London.

Directed and choreographed several shows for Bendigo Theatre and Arts (now Apollo). Choreographed and trained the Mei Hua team at the Chinese Bendigo association for 6 years. Choreographed several troupe and solo items for Competitions including: Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, Italian, Greek and Polish.

Won the Choreographic award at the Bendigo Comps in 2014 (Chinese National Dance including Lion). Choreographed Fiddler on the Roof Bendigo 1995 and 2018 (Russian and Jewish Dance techniques)

Completed Level 1 and 2 of the International Dance Syllabus by Alida Seagal. Teaches National dance regularly at Pre-school to Secondary School levels. Choreographed several dances for the last 3 years of the Festival of Lights at the Great Stupa (Korean, Chinese). Emergency Classical Ballet teacher for local ballet schools.

Anita brings a wealth of expertise to our Classical Ballet classes and will be a guest teacher several times a term.

Vocal Coach

We are thrilled to announce another appointment to our Faculty! Ash Rokesky will be our Vocal Coach for our Wednesday Musical Theatre class and working students on improving their vocal skills twice a term.

Ash is a wife and mother to a baby boy Bailey. She has a passion for singing, performance and dancing. 

She studied as a vocalist at a Creative Arts College in Sydney, and since then has been teaching singing privately and in schools for the past 8 years.

She loves seeing students not only grow in their vocal ability, but also in self-confidence. Singing can be an incredibly vulnerable activity, but gives students a real opportunity to unlock gifts inside of themselves that they have not yet discovered, allowing them to also flourish in other areas of their life. Ash currently works at Victory Christian College as Vocal Director & Singing Teacher. She previously worked at Footsteps as a Dance Teacher in schools around Melbourne and taught Jazz/Hip Hop & contemporary.

Ash also danced at Sharon Saunders Dancers for 13 years and is excited to work along side future students as they develop in their creative gift.

Sharon Saunders Dancers has been our dancing home since my girl (now 12) was in pre-school and we couldn't be happier! With special needs sometimes an issue at extra-curricular activities, Sharon has made every effort to more than accommodate our needs with a smile. The yearly concerts have been our favourite yearly activity which we absolutely wouldn't miss and being a back-stage helper has made me feel part of the dancing family too (despite my late of dancing coordination, lol).
I couldn't recommend this dance school more highly - come and join the fun! Susan SSD Parent