Shining Through 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 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

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 teaches our ballet and contemporary classes.

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! She is an adored teacher in our Ready Set Dance classes plus Enchanted Kids, Ballet & Jazz classes.

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 contempory to Broadway jazz; however, her favourite style of all time is tap! She has studied tap with the Australian Academy of Theatrical & Ballet Dancing syllabus and will soon complete her Diploma.

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 is very excited for 2019 classes and can’t wait to start!

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. She currently teaches at Hunger for Dance in Balaclava and is excited to share knowledge with the students at Sharon Saunders Dancers in 2019.

Zoe Tuttelby- Teacher

Zoe began dancing at the age of 5 and quickly picked up all styles including jazz, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, acro, commercial, ballet, music theatre and tap and she completed a year of full time dance at Patrick Studios Australia in 2017. Throughout the years she has choreographed and participated in all of her school musicals and also landed the role of Iris Kelly in Fame (Stage Masters 2015) and Ensemble in The Wiz (Stage Masters 2016). Zoe has also been part of the televised Victorian State Schools Spectacular and also danced in the television commercial ‘Girls Make Your Move’.

Zoe has a huge passion for teaching and thinks it is the most rewarding experience to be able to pass down all of the many years of knowledge she has gained. She has been a teacher for 5 years and currently teaches at Hunger for Dance in Balaclava. She cannot wait to work with all of the students at SSD next year and watch them shine like stars and grow throughout the year!

Jordyn Petrusma- Teacher

Jordyn started dancing at age 6 and has been with Sharon Saunders for 10 years. She studied ATD & ATOD Jazz, Tap, Ballet and Contemporary while dancing at SSD, with her favourite being Tap.
In 2018, she took a year off dancing and completed year 12 at Catholic College Bendigo and is looking to study Paramedicine at LaTrobe University in 2019. She is more than thrilled to be back dancing again in the new year and I can’t wait to be part of the Ready Set Dance Team!

What I love most about being at Sharon Saunders is the massive dance family I am lucky enough to be a part of and being able to express who I am through dance with the encouragement and support of my teachers and my dance girls!- Jordyn

Peta Hungerford- Guest Teacher

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."

Ready Set Dance and Enrolments coordinator - 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 will work with Sharon in the office co ordinating everything SSD and Ready Set Dance. 

Alyce adores teaching young children and loves to get back and see 'her' dancers when the opportunity arises. She understands the huge benefits of dance education for preschoolers & particularly the Ready Set Dance Program. 

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.

Guest Teacher:

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.

Student Assistants

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.