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 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 proudly 3 students are currently working as SSD 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."
Steph Riley- Teacher
Steph started dancing with Sharon Saunders at 4 years of age. Steph has been dancing for 22 years and loves passing on her experience and knowledge of dance to her students. She has completed Jazz, Tap and Ballet exams with First Class Honours through the Australian Theatrical Dance (inc). Steph has been teaching with Sharon Saunders Dancers for the past 8 years and currently teaches jazz and tap class to all age levels. In 2008 Steph completed both VCE dance and VET Certificate II in Dance at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.
Steph’s personality is infectious and energy is loved by all who take her class. The commitment shown by Steph over 20 years at SSD is much appreciated.
Steph is studying nursing at Federation University and work with Bendigo Health. Steph is an important member of the SSD family, having grown up here! Steph will continue to teach our Adult classes and relief teach when needed.
Emma Brown - Teacher
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 completed Year 12 at Bendigo Senior Secondary College and has been a student of SSD for 16 years. Hannah has passed exams each year in Classical Ballet and Jazz Ballet since joining our school. She has been a student assistant over the past 2 years and has built a great rapport with students and parents. in 2017 Hannah worked closely with Sharon in 2017 in preparation for her own classes in 2018. Hannah has a great rapport with all students and adores our school!
Julia Wellard -Teacher
Julia has been dancing for the past 13 years at Ann Maree Dancers & Start Studio. She has been assistant teaching for the past 3 years. Julia is a very passionate dancer and loves every style of dance, from Modern Contemporary to Broadway jazz; however her favourite style of all time is Tap! She has studied Australian Theatrical Dance (inc) syllabus and just completed VCE Dance. She has a deep love of performance - especially Tap dance and Musical Theatre and is excited to evoke a similar passion for dance within her students.
Julia continues to be heavily involved in the Bendigo Theatre Company, performing in ‘Boy from Oz’ in 2016 as a part of the ensemble, and earlier this year with Bendigo Theatre Company’s, youth theatre group, Tribe in its premier show of ‘Barnum’, within the principal cast, playing the role of ‘The Blues singer’, she was also appointed the role of dance captain within the production.
Julia is excited to join the team at Sharon Saunders Dancers, she can’t wait to meet the students and start classes in 2018!
Beginning her dance training 'late' as compared to most, making her grandmothers dream come true, Peta started dancing at the age of 14 and never looked back.
Very soon after she took on dancing, Peta moved into assistant teaching and quickly into teaching where her passion was split straight down the middle.
Straight out of high school, she went on to complete a Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management and went into full time dance teaching.
feeling that the performance bug wasn't quite out of her system, Peta went back to full-time performing arts at Dance World before moving to study under Todd Patrick in his foundation year of the now highly renowned Patrick Studios Australia.
A commercial career ensued and Peta has performed not only Nationally but Internationally as well. A career spanning corporate events, live shows for music artists, music videos, television, working closely with nationally acclaimed choreographers, cruise ships and more, after injury brought her home early from a cruise contract, Peta realised just how much she missed teaching and passing on her passion and knowledge to students.
After returning back to teaching full-time, the opportunity arose to open a school under her own name and she is about to celebrate her 5th year of Hunger For Dance.
Peta has seen many students through to dance careers, from the very beginnings to students who have pursued full-time training and dance careers, all the way to them being awarded scholarships to AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) in New York City, as well as taking her students through to Nationals through competing, national and international scholarships, and teaching both full-time students and more recreational students technique and competition work.
An extremely passionate teaching artist, Peta prides herself on making sure every student, no matter what age, feels a deep sense of connection, drive and accomplishment. With 20 years teaching experience as well as becoming a certified Rhythm Works Instructor for students with additional needs, Peta manages to form a special bond with all students that cross her path.
"I am extremely passionate when it comes to teaching students and the quality of education they receive. To me there can't be any substitute for knowing students as individuals and creating for them to perform and feel the absolute best they possibly can."
David Williams is a contemporary dancer that grew up on a Walnut farm near Rutherglen along the Murray River. He studied dance at the Victorian College of Arts Secondary School and New Zealand School of Dance where he got the opportunity to perform works by Jiri Kylian, Michael Parmenter, Leigh Warren, Garry Stewart and Malia Johnstone.
In 2007 David joined Black Grace Dance Company an all-male pacific island dance company where he performed in the Grass Roots Tour on the North and South Islands of New Zealand. In 2008, also with Black Grace, David went on tour throughout New Zealand and to New Caledonia, Canada, United States and Australia (WOMADelaide). In 2009 he toured with the company to Germany and Switzerland performing in a mixed repertoire under the direction of Neil Ieremia. David also took part in a performance and teaching residency in Guam, hosted by Guam Humanities Council. This project was established to work with the indigenous people of Guam to promote dance and culture within their community. In the same year he participated in the UrbanYOUTHMovement, undertaking intensive mentoring and guidance in a performance project for young people. In early 2009, David danced the principle role in the premiere of Gathering Clouds at the Auckland International Festival. Before finish up with Black Grace Dance Company in 2010, David toured through Hawaii, North America and Canada. He finished the tour by taking part in a creative collaboration at the Banff Centre in Canada, which was in partnership with Red Sky, a Native American dance company. David joined Sydney Dance Company at the invitation of Rafael Bonachela at the end of 2010, touring ‘We Unfold’ to Melbourne and Brisbane. Joining Expression Dance Company as a principle artist under Natalie Weir’s direction, David was fortunate enough to perform principle roles in Where the heart is, R&J, Scripsi Scriptum and Don’t. David was honored to perform at the Australian Ballet 50thGala birthday performance. Two highlights for David during his time with Expressions Dance Company would be the collaboration with Queens Ballet and Dancenorth for the Brisbane Festival, performing works by Natalie Weir (The Lament) and Cameron McMillan (Hummingbird) and working on a four week collaborative process based in Basel, Switzerland.
David’s professional dance career has given him the opportunity to tour the globe, work with inspiring choreographers and perform in leading contemporary dance companies. David feels very lucky to still be connected to the dance community through teaching and previously role as a representative of Energetiks. David believes that giving back to the community is extremely important and rewarding.
Jess is a graduate of WAAPA where her credits included Chris Hargensen in Carrie, Serena in Legally Blonde, Thalia in Matthew Robinsonʼs Atlantis, Little Becky Two Shoes in Urinetown, & West Side Story. Most recently, Jess has appeared as Diana Morales in ‘A Chorus Lineʼ (Mad About Theatre). In 2015, Jess played the role of Macy in the short film ‘Library of Loveʼ alongside Glee & Scream Queens creator Ian Brennan. The film received its world premiere in the Palm Springs International ShortFest in 2017. Other credits include Nine (Manila Street Productions), and the Australian & international tour of Paw Patrol Live! (Nickelodeon/Life Like Touring). Jess has taught dance & singing for the past 7 years at several studios throughout Victoria and Western Australia. She specialises in ballet, theatre jazz, jazz technique, and voice. Jess teaches ages 5 through to full time students, with students competing successfully throughout the state and gaining acceptance into performing arts high schools.
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.
We are blessed to have caring and dedicated dancers who volunteer their time to mentor and assist in junior classes. Georgia, Caitlin, Keeley, Alyssa, Ali, Taylah & Sasha have been students for many years and love to help our junior students in class. They are great role models and a credit to both their families and our SSD family.