Ali Richardson-Hickey

Ali has been dancing her entire life. She began her dance training in a wide variety of styles including Jazz, Classical, Lyrical and Acrobatics with Ken McSwain at the age of 6. Ali was already assisting Ken to take classes by the age of 13, and at 16 Ali began teaching classes without supervision. She quickly realised that teaching is her true passion and this experience led her to complete a Bachelor of Education and become a classroom teacher. Whilst working fulltime as a classroom teacher, Ali has managed to play an extremely influential role at Hobart Dance Academy.

Ali’s choreography is well renowned and has won numerous prizes at the Southern Tasmanian Dancing Eisteddfods. Although she adored her teaching job, Ali’s lifelong dream has been to become the Owner and Director of Hobart Dance Academy. In 2015, Ali last, fulfilled this dream. Her love for dance and for her students is immense and she is delighted to be taking on the role of Director of Hobart Dance Academy.

Ken McSwain

Ballet Master
Ken began dancing with Val Trembath in Western Australia after several years training in gymnastics. After a short time, he was transferred to Madame Kira Bousloff, Director of the West Australian Ballet School. Ken became one of the first professional dancers in the West Australian Ballet Company. He then danced as lead Principal Artist with Ballet Victoria, the Sydney Ballet Company and the Perth City Ballet Company.

During his time with the Perth City Ballet Company he was appointed Ballet Master for the Company. Under the tutorage of Dianna Waldron, he was also able to complete his R.A.D major exams through to and including his Solo Seal. Ken then moved to The Tasmanian Ballet Company to work with Kenneth Gillespie, as Principal Male and Ballet Master, eventually becoming Artistic Director of the Company.

Throughout his performing career, Ken has danced the lead roles in major ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker Suite, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty as well as most of the other major classics. On retirement, he moved to Hobart and began teaching with Carolyn Stephens; the founder of Hobart Dance Academy.

Mariel Butterworth

Tap Teacher
Mariel has spent her entire life performing in one way or another, winning numerous awards and scholarships for Dance, Singing and Drama. At the age of 3 she began training in Jazz, Tap, Theatrical and Lyrical styles and then extended this training in her teenage years by spending time with Tim and Jenny Rogers to learn all styles of Ballroom dance.

Mariel was also guided and influenced by her singing teacher of many years Sharon Prero, along with Ken McSwain and Fiona Szczerbanik who trained her in Classical Ballet. Over the last 8 years Mariel has choreographed a number of award winning dance routines for competition work and has managed to do so whilst completing an Arts/Law Degree at the University of Tasmania.

More recently Mariel joined the teaching faculty of HDA in 2013 where she has introduced Tap dancing to the range of styles taught at the Academy.


Tennille Burdon

Lyrical Dance Teacher
Tennille works with the Lyrical classes at HDA. She enjoys music and movement, particularly when they come as a package deal. Her classes are aimed at creating technically strong dancers who use their brains, and their hearts.

A perfectionist and a dreamer, she is always creating and loves to nurture creativity in the students she works with. Tennille spends her days choreographing routines and has won a couple of prizes for that. Her favourite words are “one more time”.

Sara Pensalfini

Drama Teacher
Sara has a BA in Theatre Performance from the Arts Academy, Ballarat. Here, she also studied Musical Theatre Performance which included Voice, Movement and Dance units. As a teacher, she has developed and delivered programmes for ReAct Drama School and the Helen O’Grady Children’s Drama Academy, as well as Drama and Music Therapy programmes for Cosmos, Oak Enterprises, The Parkside Foundation and BSDS (Melb).

Her professional career began as a child in Western Australia where, for the ABC, she acted in scores of TV and radio productions.

Throughout her adult life, Sara has consistently used her skills and training to gain employment in the fields of theatre, film, advertising, the arts, training, health and education. She has twice been invited to adjudicate the Clarence City Drama Eisteddfod and regularly works as a consultant in the Screen Industry to assist with the casting and direction of child actors.


Ashley Goodsell

Dance Teacher
Ashley has been enrolled in dancing since the age of 3, learning a variety of styles of dance including jazz, ballet, tap and lyrical.

Ashley first began dancing with Hobart Dance Academy at the age of 11 to further knowledge and training in classical ballet, and has now moved to HDA full time for both dancing and joining the teaching staff.

She has also been involved in competition work, winning scholarships and awards for solos in all styles throughout the years. “I am very passionate about what I do, and am so happy that I get to play such a special role in the HDA family where I myself have had constant support and guidance which has made me the dancer I am today.”

Kelsea Welch

Dance Teacher
Kelsea has danced at HDA for eleven years now. Her time at HDA began when she was ten years old. Before she became a part of the HDA family Kelsea tried dancing elsewhere but it wasn’t until she got to HDA that she felt truly happy. Over the years Kelsea has taken Jazz, Song and Dance, Lyrical, Classical and Hip-hop.

“My time at HDA has been extremely special. Not only do we learn to dance, but also we build wonderful friendships and learn valuable lessons. In 2012 I was honoured to be named the Dux of HDA. I am really looking forward to continuing my time at HDA, not only as a student, but as a teacher too. I think it is very exciting and it will be wonderful to be a part of other dancers’ journeys with the Hobart Dance Academy.”

Acacia Bingham

Dance Teacher
Acacia has been a Highland dancer since the age of 4 and a part of HDA since she was 9 years old. She began choreographing, polishing and performing her own works in 2011.These include her own solos, duos, trios and group choreography both with HDA and in other avenues.

As a Highland dancer, Acacia has successfully completed 11 NDA dance exams, each with a 90% result or higher.

Acacia is not only a dancer – she has performed in musicals including ‘RENT’ and ‘Witches of Eastwick’, numerous contemporary and modern plays including ‘Away’, and a pantomime consisting of 45 shows, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Acacia has been wonderfully dedicated to Hobart Dance Academy for the duration of her time here and is so excited to be introduced as a teacher, and for a fresh new approach to our beloved academy.


Kate Stephens

Dance Teacher
Kate started dancing when she was 3 years old enrolling in classes which included styles such as jazz, tap, hip hop and lyrical.  Kate then also took up ballet to further her technique and help improve her dancing throughout all styles.

Kate began dancing with Hobart Dance Academy in 2015 and in 2016 joined the teaching staff. Kate has also recently qualified as a Jazzercise instructor and is undertaking her second year at university studying a Bachelor of Psychology.

Kate is one of the most versatile and organised people we know who has thrived working with our young ones.  Kate can always be relied upon with an amazing attitude for life.