About Swan River Ballet

On this page: Mission Statement | Training with RAD | Staff

Read our Important Notices

Staff members of Swan River Ballet

Mission Statement

Swan River Ballet school aims to bring the joy of the dance to students by providing experienced teachers in a friendly, co-operative environment at Hamilton House.

We feel it is important to provide all the facilities and resources to ensure that learning to dance is safe and stress free, allowing each student to achieve a level of expertise according to their capabilities and ideals.

To gain the most advantage in our chosen art form, we aim to develop students self-discipline and overall confidence.

Hamilton House

Students and parents have access to:

  • Three exquisite well-equipped studios
  • Large waiting rooms
  • Change rooms
  • A courtyard with a landscaped garden
  • Ample parking
  • Large community kitchen
  • Uniform shop
  • Gym
  • as well as bedrooms for country students and guest teachers

There is also a separate three-bedroom residence for a live-in dance teacher.


Training with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD)

The RAD offers an internationally recognised portfolio of examinations and assessments designed to encourage, motivate and reward students of all ages and abilities, outlining a progressive structure for learning and achievement in dance.

In Australia, the RAD Vocational Graded qualifications are endorsed by the state of Western Australia for credit towards the Certificate of Education.

At tertiary level, dancers can continue their educational qualifications at any of the following courses:

  • Diploma in Dance Training studies

  • Professional Dancers Teaching program

  • Certificate in Ballet Teaching studies

  • Master of Teaching Dance

  • Certificate of Higher Education

  • BA (Hons) Dance Education

  • Studies of Benesh notation

These courses are available before, during and after dancers’ professional careers.

For talented pre-professional dancers, the prestigious Adeline Genee Competition opens the door to opportunities in the professional dance field.

For further information, visit royalacademyofdance.org

About the RAD

With over 13,000 members’ spread across 89 countries, The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is one of the largest and most influential dance education and training organisations in the world.

The Academy’s patron is HM Queen Elizabeth II. RAD Membership supports the advancement of dance and includes professional dancers, students, teachers, benefactors and friends.

Established in 1920, to improve standards and re-invigorate dance training initially within the UK, the Academy helps and encourages its teachers to perfect their teaching skills and pass on this knowledge to their students.

There are currently over 1,000 students in full-time or part-time teacher training programmes with the Academy and each year, the examination syllabus is taught to more than a quarter of a million students worldwide.

The Academy maintains close links with all those involved in the industry, at every level. From the internationally recognised ‘Faculty of Education’ degree programmes to those younger students participating in our summer schools. At whatever age or stage, anyone with an appreciation of classical ballet and jazz is able to participate in the work of the Academy.


Staff

Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson | Linda McKeon | Avie C-W | April Vardy | Ella Goodall

Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson RAD RTS

Principal

Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson headshot

Michele commenced dancing at the age of 5 with Audrey Nicholls & Eve King School of Ballet in Melbourne. She completed her RAD graded exams with Honours, then studied Russian ballet in England for 3 years. Upon returning to Melbourne she continued with RAD Vocational studies.

In Karratha she founded Estelle's Dance & Performance Academy with her daughter, Estelle, in response to the community desire for a RAD ballet school. The school operated from 2000 – 2009 and trained over 300 students per year in Ballet, Character, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop and Contemporary. Yearly exam sessions in RAD and CSTD syllabi and the substantial end of year production at the Walkington Theatre were the school's main focus.

As a Registered RAD teacher, Michele enter students for the first RAD exam sessions in the Pilbara. Now more than 800 students in the Pilbara have successfully participated in ballet exams and she believes success in the exams enhances student's confidence.

While Michele was the Principal of Estelle's Dance & Performance Academy in Karratha, she attended numerous RAD courses and seminars with her students such as the annual Autumn Vocational Program, the Spring Grades Course and Summer School at WAAPA. It is her belief that students in Karratha should receive the best possible training in ballet and that distance should not be detrimental to the dancer.

Since 2010 Michele has taught in a number of ballet schools in Perth including Graduate College of Dance, Silhouette Dance School, Dynamic Performing Arts and Diana Waldron Ballet School and Academie Etoiles.

In 2012 she was nominated and accepted as a member of the WA Royal Academy of Dance Panel. As a Panel member Michele has been involved in the RAD Festivals, the Summer Dance Program at WAAPA, the Solo Seal Presentations and many other RAD courses for students and teachers.

Michele flies up to Karratha on a regular basis to support Terre Rouge Ballet School and ensure the school has the most comprehensive knowledge on all RAD courses, programs, and syllabus matters.

In 2014 Michele performed with her son, Anton, in Perth City Ballet's production of 'Giselle' showing that performing is fun at any age. In 2015 she was able to be on stage with two of her children Avie and Anton in Perth City Ballet's production of "Swan Lake".

Michele is excited to take on a new role as principal of Swan River Ballet which will work in conjunction with Terre Rouge Ballet. The family has decided to invest in the premises at Hamilton House, close to South Fremantle, as it allows for many possible ventures for the whole ballet teaching and learning experience.

Linda McKeon

Teacher & Physiotherapist

Linda McKeon headshot

Linda began dancing at the age of six in Bridgetown, Western Australia. She participated in classes in ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap continuing into adulthood, at various schools in Perth and Bunbury. In her early 20’s, Linda spent six months as a dancer in a cabaret-style show for Australian International Entertainment, based in Japan.

Following this she began studying Physiotherapy at Curtin University and has since worked in Private Practice in Bunbury, Karratha and now Perth. Linda is a qualified Pilates Clinician, using exercises to rehabilitate injured bodies and improve performance. As a Physiotherapist, Linda uses hands-on therapy, acupuncture and taping techniques to relieve pain and rest overworked areas. At the same time educating dancers on basic anatomy and function and providing exercises to improve muscle memory and technique.

Whilst in Karratha, Linda spent six years teaching with Terre Rouge Ballet, including classes in RAD Grades and Majors, contemporary and strength and conditioning. She has travelled to participate in courses on RAD syllabus as well as Dance Physiotherapy. Linda enjoys combining the understanding she has of ballet and dance with Physiotherapy skills to help dancers (and non-dancers) understand their bodies better to improve technique now and have greater longevity.

Avie C-W

Jazz & Contemporary Co-ordinator and Teacher

Avie C-W headshot

Avie was introduced to ballet at the age of two at the first RAD dance school in Karratha. Spending many hours at the school, Avie completed her RAD exams from pre-primary to Grade 4, as well as CSTD tap and jazz before the age of 11. In 2010 Avie began pointe classes and completed her Grade 5 RAD. It was at Silhouette Dance Studio where she began assistant teaching, and continued, for the next 4 years. During this time she trained in classical ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical and singing as well as competing in various competitions and completing many RAD, Jazz Addict, and ATOD Hiphop exams. After graduating high school in 2015, Avie began full time training at Swan River Ballet completing her Advance 1 RAD and continued teaching independently as well choreographing.

Her passion for dance led her into accepting a place at Transit Dance in the contemporary pre-professional course. During this year Avie performed in six dance productions including; Falling in Reverse by Jayden Hicks, Dada by Paul Malek and Lachlan Hall, Follow by Nic Eva and Charlie Pratt-White (as part of Melbourne Fringe festival), Young choreographed for UNDRGRND, People Rant choreographed by Adam Wheeler and Aeon by Dominique Cowden (a finalist in Dance Architect) as well as completing her Certificate IV in Contemporary Dance.

Although dance is her driving force, Avie has found a love for acting, finding herself in recent titles such as Library of Love, Hounds of Love, ABC's The Heights, FILCH and The Story of Koko. She has also succesfully landed lead roles in two short films being filmed in mid 2019. As well as film, she also performed in the sellout immersive theatre show “Do Not Collect $200”, directed by Harley Hefford and in 2018 performed in Jesus Christ Superstar with Platinium Entertainment & the 24Hour PLay Genertator with WA Youth Theatre Company. Avie's success with Jesus Christ Superstar landed her a place in the We Will Rock You 2019 Tour as a Yuppie and a Gaga and then landing her dream role of Victoria in Cats the Musical. She wishes to use what she learns from both her acting and dance background to teach children about performance, creativity and finding the enjoyment in the performing arts.

April Vardy

Adult Ballet Teacher

April Vardy headshot

April Vardy began dancing at the age of four at North Shore Dance Academy, the local ballet school in St.Ives, Sydney. At the beginning of 2013 she moved to Perth to complete a Bachelor of Dance at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and then in 2016 completed an Honours degree as part of LINK Dance Company also at WAAPA, graduating in November 2016.

Since then she has choreographed a dance work as part of Fringe 2018 called ‘Shall we get comfy?’ at Paper Mountain for three sell out nights! Performed at PSAS with Brooke Leeder & Co. in ‘Structural Dependency’ in December 2018. Performed and choreographed a solo dance work, as part of a doublebill in Fringe 2019 called ‘Susan & The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it’.

April most recently choreographed and performed ‘In Cahoots’ as part of Fringe Festival 2020, which was awarded WA overall winner of the Dance & Physical Theatre category. Since graduating April has also taught at a number of schools around Perth including, La Salle College, John Curtin College of the Arts, Rossmoyne Senior High School and Swan River Ballet.

Emily Pittendreigh

Teacher

Emily Pittendreigh headshot

Emily started Classical Ballet at the age of 3, quickly developing a love for dance and deciding to pursue it as a career. Emily trained with The Studio of Classical and Contemporary Dance under the direction of Melissa White before Amy Barningham later took over the studio.

As well as classical, Emily has trained in Contemporary since the age of 11, along with dabbling with Jazz and Tap in her younger years. Having the opportunity to share the stage with Principals from the Western Australian Ballet Company, and the Dresden Semperoper Ballet Company have been amongst her Career highlights. On completion of her schooling years Emily moved to Fremantle to do full time Ballet and Contemporary Studies. In 2017 she moved to NSW to train full time and gain more diversity. She now has experience in a wide range of styles including Jazz, Musical theatre, Heels, Commercial, Hip hop, Tap, Acro, as well as maintaining her Ballet and Contemporary skills.

During her time in NSW, Emily has gained her Advanced Diploma in Dance along with Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management. As part of completing her studies at Lee Academy, Emily taught all dance styles there as well, and this has fostered a true love of Dance teaching and she is excited to work with, and share the love of dance with younger generations.

Ella Goodall

Assistant & Junior Teacher

Ella Goodall headshot

Ella found her love for dance when she was just 3 years old. Whilst ballet has been her main focus, Ella has experienced all other types of dance, such as Jazz, Tap, Acro, Contemporary and Irish Dancing, further enhancing her knowledge and understanding of dance.

Ella completed her Pre Primary Exam and Primary Jazz 1 Exam at Betty Bentley, where she was awarded distinctions and honours. As Ella got older, she then moved to Katharine Mantle Performing Arts academy, completing all RAD exams from primary to advanced foundation - achieving distinctions in all exams.

Ella’s love for dance continued to flourish as she began competing in competitions at 10 years old, travelling to Tasmania, Sydney & the Gold Coast. This gave Ella the opportunity to work collectively & cooperatively with a wide variety of dancers, which today reflects in her skillset and teaching methods.

Dance is more than just a hobby or cocurricular activity, as Ella also has incorporated dance into her education. Ella attends John Curtin College of the Arts, where she studies both Ballet & Contemporary. Through her schooling, Ella travelled to London and Montpellier in 2017 to partake in ballet workshops with the Royal Academy of Dance. Ella has also completed her Cert 1 in dance and is currently studying for her Cert 2 in dance at John Curtin College of the Arts.

Ella believes that dance should be fun and accessible to all, and hopes that all students enjoy dance as much as she does.