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Emma Laverty

Emma Laverty is a proud Boorooberongal Clanswoman of the Darug Tribe and has been living on Ngunnawal Country since 2014. Emma began dancing in 1989 and began teaching dance in 2003 after leaving high school in year 9, struggling with domestic violence and later being offered a job by her then dance teacher. It was this mentorship and early life experience Emma bases her community practice on. Emma holds a Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management, Certificate in Meditation & Human Development, Certificate in Chair Yoga, Certificate in Holistic Counselling, and is a Certified Keep Kids Safe in Dance Teacher. Emma has been an Independent Artist since 2008 working with the community and schools. Highlights include working with Australian Dance Party, Liz Lea and Tammi Gissel, acting as a Curatorial Advisor to the National Portrait Gallery (2021), ACT Public Education Awards Finalist (2020), ACT Children’s Week Certificate of Excellence recipient (2021), ACT Public Education Awards Nominee (2022), Yilga by Emma Laverty - Belconnen Community Gallery "Respect" Series (2019), Rise Above Cancer Convoy - "Not so Full Monty" Choreographer (2019). Emma has contributed to numerous boards including being an AusDance ACT Board Member (2019 – May 2021) and an ongoing Australian Dance Party Board Advisor. Most recently (2022) Emma represented the ACT, supported by ACT Government and artsACT, in SA at Purrumpa, the largest national gathering of First Nations art and culture in 50 years. In early 2022 Emma established Project Dust, a community First Nations dance group which is quickly growing. 


Neale Whittaker

Neale has spent the last 15 years developing his own unique brand of movement, fusing contemporary, commercial and street style techniques. This unique style led him to choreograph and perform on hit TV programs like SYTYCD, Dancing With the Stars, Australia’s Got Talent, ABC3’s Dance Academy and The ARIA’s. In 2010 Neale and his business partner James Barry created PHLY CREW, Australia’s leading comedy dance company, representing Australia at HipHop International and World of Dance, they are well known in Sydney for creating productions like The Phlycrew Show, PhlyCrew 2.0, Phly Crew Live and featured as grand finalist on Australia’s Got Talent. Neale’s talent for teaching and choreography has lead him to instruct workshops all over the world including, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. This lead Neale to becoming one of School Spectacular’s Hip Hop Choreographers. He continued his working relationship with many choreographers and has performed/choreographed in many unique experiences including those for; BMW in Beijing, Katy Perry, ARIAS performance with Tones and I, Rembrandt Live choreographed by Kelley Abbey and featured soloist on Australia’s The Voice for Jennifer Hudson.




Mike Harrison-Lamond

Mike Harrison-Lamond is the Director of the Australian Academy of Dance, alongside partner Nathaniel Harrison-Lamond – together, they have built the school over the past 15 years. Mike has a background in design and communication, having worked for firms in Australia, the UK and Canada. He also has done extensive work for all levels of government and the non-profit and NGO sector. Mike has always had a passion for the arts, and has been connected with the industry from a young age – having performed in a number of shows when he was younger, then becoming a designer, to more recently producing and staging shows.In July 2019, Mike and Nathaniel took a 15 year lease on two buildings and went through a 6 month process to create new dance studios to train in. In the adjacent building, the pair are setting up a black-box theatre, a training ground for their students, as well as the local performing arts community (including other dance schools!). It is Mike’s dream to have a performing arts venue that is run by artists, for artists – and for it to become an ongoing part of the local arts landscape. While Mike comes to the Dance Arts Alliance from a different path than the other members, his experience working within the arts industry, and his advocacy work inside and outside government has helped him provide support to the group.Mike is extremely grateful for the honour of being the Chair of the Dance Arts Alliance, to work alongside dedicated, driven and professional Committee members, as well as talented Dance Studio Owners within the Alliance membership group. It is Mike’s hope while in the position, he can help build the reputation and achievements of the Dance Arts Alliance while supporting an industry to unite and have a clear voice.


 Aimee Whittaker

Aimee started dancing at age three and quickly fell in love with ballet. Her continued love for the industry led to performances with Luna Park, Sydney Comedy Festival, P&O Cruises, So You Think You Can Dance, a brief stint in a contemporary company, and performing with Dance/Comedy group Phly Crew as a core company member as well as teaching ballet and contemporary classes at local dance studios. Aimee has completed a Diploma in Dance Teaching and Management, a Cert IV in Training and Assessment, three separate Pilates instructor qualifications, and has become a registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance. Her experience training young dance teachers led to a realisation of the flaws in communication between fellow teachers. From this, Aimee developed a platform for dance teachers and studio owners to connect with others outside their immediate network, and a space for new dance teachers and dancers returning from overseas contracts to ‘put themselves out there’ in the dance teaching community in Australia. In 2020, Aimee released ‘Dance Plus’; a website dedicated to connecting the dance community in Australia and providing support and education for dancers, dance teachers, studio owner and parents. 


Stephen Tannos

Stephen was born in Sydney and has trained extensively in all styles of dance as well as singing and acting. His career kickstarted with roles in both Cats, Fame - The Musical and in the cast of large-scale production of the opera ‘Carmen’, Choreographed by Kelley Abbey in 2013. Stephen has also enjoyed much commercial success as a performer working with artists such as Ricky Martin, Natalie Bassingthwaite and Jess Mauboy. In 2009, Stephen was selected to be a part of the Top 20 in the 2009 season of the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance Australia and his choreography has been featured on So You Think You Can Dance Australia and The Voice AU. He has also developed music videos for Artists such as Alpine, RUFUS, Vaudeville Smash and Beatz. Further, in 2016 Stephen once again collaborated with Marko Panzic to choreograph and co-direct The Dream Dance Company’s ‘Genesis’, to great critical acclaim. 

Kelly Groves

Kelly Groves is a Business and Social Media Strategist with a passion for business growth and education for small business owners. A current dance teacher herself, Kelly’s experience across many pockets of the Performing Arts Industry has enabled her to specialise her services to support dance studio owners, businesses and professionals in defining their business strategies, taking them to a new level of diversity and reaching their full potential. Industry Award Winning, Kelly is passionate about helping business owners run their business on their terms whilst achieving long term goals. Working with businesses both locally and internationally, Kelly thrives on debunking the layers of a business and by doing so, driving them into a new phase as we adapt into new ways of thinking to market, scale and support Performing Arts Industry professionals long term. 

Rhi Sugars

Directed by Rhi Sugars, The Atypical Educator is a Neurodivergent led inclusion support consultancy, which aims to bridge the gap between the Neurodivergent and Neurotypical communities.Born with chromosomal differences, Rhi is an early childhood educator with over 16 years experience working with children aged 0-12. Throughout this time, Rhi saw the need and potential for inclusion support that is guided by lived experience and created The Atypical Educator to meet that need. Through sharing her unique perspective as an AuADHD person, Rhi is able support educators in understanding the needs of their Neurodivergent students, assist them

to unpack and address challenging behaviour and guide them in creating inclusive classrooms and teaching practices. Rhi also supports the parents of newly diagnosed children in understanding their child’s diagnosis and how best to advocate for their needs. Rhi aims to empower adults to not only feel confident when it comes to inclusion but for them to enjoy it too. When not in Atypical Educator mode, Rhi is mum to her 2 Neurodivergent children, Dallas and Evanna, and can often be found camping by the beach on Yuin or Darkinjung country with the kids and her partner, John.

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