Meet the Team

Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson, Principal & Registered Teacher – Royal Academy of Dance (RAD)
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 students 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. Over 1,000 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.

In 2014 Michele performed with her child, Charle, 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 Charle in Perth City Ballet’s production of “Swan Lake”.

Michele as principal of Swan River Ballet continues to mentor teachers & students to cultivate many opportunities for those who love Ballet.

Avie, Co-director of Swan River Ballet
Avie began dancing at Estelle’s Dance & Performance Academy in Karratha at the age of two. Being taught RAD Ballet, CSTD Tap and Jazz Avie found a love of performing, examinations and choreography at a very young age.

Moving to Perth (Boorloo) in 2010, Avie soon began training at Silhouette Dance studio participating in many classes including Ballet, Contemporary, Singing, HipHop, Lyrical, Tap and Jazz. During this time they also began their teaching journey and also found a love of acting and musical theatre.

Their passion for dance led them into accepting a place at Transit Dance in the contemporary pre-professional course in 2017. 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.

Since moving back to Perth in 2018, Avie has had many opportunities in dance, Musical Theatre, Screen and Stage Acting and circus. Some of their credits include musicals such as We Will Rock You, Jesus Christ Superstar and having a Principal role “Victoria” in CATS the musical  in 2019. Since 2020, Avie has also found a love of circus and aerials joining the Kinetica Circus Senior Performance Group in 2022. They can be found in some of the Kinetica shows and gigs including recently performing at Perth Fringe 2024 in Hall of Fame & 2 Outrageous. Through all their incredible experiences, Avie loves to share their passion of performing and all they learn in their opportunities to the students at Swan River Ballet and continues to learn and teach the joy of dance.

Emma Hunter, Ballet Teacher
Emma started her ballet training at the age of 6 with Academie De La Classique under the direction of Carmen Tulloch, training with the Cecchetti Method of ballet before switching to RAD and completing all major exams in both RAD and Cecchetti. During her early years Emma also trained in Jazz, Tap and Contemporary and went on to further her studies to complete her Certificate III & IV in Dance with the West Australian Academy of Performing (WAAPA) Arts. It was during this time where her passion for ballet & contemporary really started to take hold, leading her to move to Melbourne to pursue full-time study in 2007.

In 2009 Emma graduated with an Advanced Diploma of Dance (Classical Ballet) from the National Theatre Ballet School under the direction of Beverly Jane Fry. Shortly after she moved to London working with Vienna Festival Ballet performing in Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty directed by Peter Malik. Emma briefly returned to Perth and trained with Beth James at the Western Australian Conservatoire of Classical Ballet before returning to Melbourne in 2012.

During her time in Melbourne Emma worked as an independent artist with Melbourne Dance Theatre (now known as Victorian State Ballet) and was a founding company member of Melbourne City Ballet. Her career highlights have been performing at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and in the Sydney Fringe festival twice as well as sharing her passion for dance with the younger generations for the Melbourne City Youth Ballet.

During her time with Melbourne City Ballet she performed soloist roles in Carmen and Coppelia as well as being the lead dancer during the Melbourne season of Placebo in ‘Grief’ and ‘Catharsis’.

In 2015 Emma began working for Bloch and was promoted to Store Manager within 6 months of employment at the Camberwell store. Working in this new environment, Emma was able to share her skills and knowledge with new ballet parents, full time students and teachers. She also found joy in equipping students with their first pointe shoes and helping others with pointe shoes of all ages.

After 10+ years living away, Emma moved back to Perth and began studying a Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy – Honours). It is her passion to guide the younger generations on safe dance practices, so they may enjoy longevity in their chosen path as dancers. Emma still enjoys fitting pointe shoes through her work at Costume and Ballet Centre in Mount Hawthorn.

Emily Pittendreigh, Acro & Contemporary Dance Teacher
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.