Hobart Dance Academy

0418 343 776

© Hobart Dance Academy

HDA team

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, at 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

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.

Tennille Burdon

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”.

Mariel Butterworth

Mariel has been involved in the performing arts her entire life; winning numerous awards and scholarships for dance, singing and drama. Mariel’s love for dance commenced at the age of 3 where she began training in jazz, tap, theatrical and lyrical styles under the guidance of Sonny Jose. Over the years Mariel has also been guided and largely influenced by her singing teacher of many years Sharon Prero, as well as classical ballet teachers Ken McSwain and Fiona Szczerbanik (nee Combey). In Mariel’s teenage years she extended her dance training with Tim and Jenny Rogers to include all forms of ballroom dance. Mariel largely attributes their direction and support to the outstanding results that she was able to achieve for both medal examinations and competition work.
Over the years Mariel’s passion for creativity has been evidenced by her ability to not only choreograph a number of award winning routines, but also in being able to assist students develop their performance qualities to their full potential.Mariel joined the teaching faculty of HDA in 2013 where she introduced tap dancing to the range of styles taught at the Academy.
In addition to all things dance, Mariel graduated university in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws, and in 2015, after completing her Diploma of Legal Practice, went on to gain Admission to the Legal Profession.

Kate Woods

Kate began dancing at the age of three and her love and passion for dance and technique has grown ever since.
Kate has owned and operated Centre Stage Dance Company for the last 11 years and has seen it grow from 20 students to over 200 in that time. In 2018, Kate handed the reins of Centre Stage Dance Company over to Ali Richardson-Hickey at Hobart Dance Academy. Kate is excited to be teaching tap exam classes and solos at Hobart Dance Academy.

Angela Ireson

Angela Ireson is one of Tasmania’s most experienced dance teachers and choreographers and has been training dancers as well as choreographing musicals and Eisteddfod dance routines for over 30 years. Angela received her training locally with Jill and Wendy Baron and Sonny Jose as well as overseas at the Pineapple Dance centre in London and at Carnegie Hall and ‘Steps on Broadway’ in New York. Prior to her teaching career, Angela spent many years working extensively as a dancer /singer/ choreographer in musicals, cabarets, television (local and national), revues, conventions and in theatre restaurant. She competed in many dancing competitions locally and nationally and was the recipient of many awards including the state Championship Award in tap dancing. She was also awarded life membership of the ‘Old Nick Company’ for her services to the company as a choreographer over a period of 11 years. Angela was employed by the Department of Education as a teacher of dance from 2002-2010 and has been running her own dancing school the ‘Angela Ireson Dance Theatre’ for the last 25 years, however, she also enjoys freelance teaching with other dancing schools. In 2007/08, she was employed by Billy Elliott Australia Ltd. to act as a tapping and ballet instructor for the musical ‘Billy Elliott’ that ran in Melbourne and Sydney. Angela is a member of Federal Association of Teachers of Dancing.

Ashley Goodsell

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. Now teaching at Hobart Dance Academy fulltime, Ash has 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 be apart of the HDA family with constant support and guidance which has made me the dancer I am today."

Mark Cipollone

Mark started he’s dance training at the age of 21 at Dance Factory and was awarded a 2-year scholarship to complete he’s Diploma of Dance and performance. He has also trained at National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA)– Tumbling and acrobats for dancers and at The Victorian college of the Arts (VCA) (classical guitar). Film and T.V Credits include, Carla Cametti PD (Mini Series). Episodes for ‘Winners and losers’, ‘Scooter’ and ‘The Footy Show’. Mark Has also appeared in TVC’s for Fox8 ‘The Ultimate School Musical’, ‘Honda’, ‘Coles’, ‘Chemist Warehouse’ and ‘Bertolli’. Mark’s Singing/dance credits include Tokyo Disney land, Norwegian Cruise lines, contemporary dance work “Beat n Move Euphoric’, Jazz Dance Company “Ignite the Dark” – The Colour of night, Australian and Abu Dhabi tours of  ‘Hello Music Land’ and ’hairy Maclary’ – the musical. He has choreographed: the stage production of ‘Pandora’s Dolls’, runway/model shows including the ‘HBIA Awards’ for Victoria University, ‘French embassy’ - cancan, ‘Bar 20’ – Robotic Intention, Masters of Choreography. Audition choreographer for ‘giggle N hoot’ and resident choreographer for Numerous Clubs through ‘Blue After Glow Productions’ and ‘House of Burlesque’.


Over the past 7 years Mark has been guest teaching and Choreographing for many reputable companies and schools around Melbourne and currently travels weekly interstate to teach at Centre Stage Dance Company and Hobart Dance Academy in Tasmania. He is thrilled and humbled to be able to share he’s knowledge with you and the next generation of performers!

Samantha Charlton

They say you should never work with children or animals…well Sami is crazy enough to do both. Sami spends her days working as a Veterinary Nurse and is now bringing her compassionate & friendly personality to HDA. With has over 15 years of dance experience having danced since she was 4 years old, Sami has always had a keen interest in the performing arts and feels most at home when she is on the stage. As well as dancing Sami spent 7 years with Exit Left where she has performed in Annie, High School Musical and was the lead role in 13 the Musical.
Sami loves her HDA family and is very excited for the year ahead.

Fiona Szczerbanik

Fiona began classical ballet at the age of 5 in New Guinea and continued ballet, growing up in New South Wales and Canberra. When Fiona was 13, her family moved to Hobart and she began jazz with Carolyn Stephens (who founded Hobart Dance Academy) and continued ballet and lyrical with Ken McSwain.  After assisting Ken teaching class, she began teaching both jazz and classical routines for groups and soloists. She was fortunate to continue her dancing and teaching for HDA while completing an Arts/Law degree and then a Bachelor of Education.
A highlight of her time dancing at HDA was the many years of pas de deux (partner/duo work), she was able to perform with Ken. Fiona is delighted to be able to share her love of dance and technique again at HDA, with the young classical classes on Saturday.

Emma Bavage

Emma enjoys teaching ballet at HDA.  She began highland dancing at the age of 2 ½, competing for the first time at the age of 3 and for the last time a few years ago.  She trained in Launceston under Kim Roe for ballet (BAL syllabus), highland dancing, jazz, folkloric and lyrical (called neo classical in her day) and Vicki Press for tap.  She’s always danced and continued to dance in Sydney and Melbourne in her 20s when she moved interstate for work.  She loves singing in the car with her two girls but never on the stage as she can’t hold a note. 
Emma’s favourite sentences are “point your feet” and “where’s your smile?” and she is exited to share her love of dance with the students of HDA.

Emma Tyzack-Price

Emma was born into the performing arts and has been involved with dance after stepping foot into a dance studio at the age of 3. Under the guidance of wonderful teachers and mentors, Emma has completed RAD, BAL and ACB Ballet exams and BAL Jazz exams, competed in annual competitions and has performed in numerous productions, concerts and musicals.


Emma believes in continual learning and has completed a Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management in 2015, a Bachelor of Business in 2016 and is currently completing her RAD teacher qualifications. Emma has been teaching for the past 11 years and has a passion for nurturing the love of dance and movement in young dancers!

Averil Dare

Averil has been dancing for 17 years and has trained in all styles of dance. She began her journey at Centre Stage Dance Company as a student in 2008 when the school opened and was awarded dux of the school twice.
She enjoys passing on her knowledge and love for dancing onto the younger students and is excited to work with Hobart Dance Academy.

Alice Lette

Alice has been an HDA dancer since the age of five. She has experience in ballet, neoclassical, jazz, hip hop, song and dance and musical theatre. Alice enjoys all styles of dance, however has a particular passion for song and dance/musical theatre.


Alice has spent the last four years in Queensland and has recently relocated back to Hobart to be closer to family. She has had many years of experience teaching children of all ages and various styles of dance. Alice adores teaching and is family centred in nature. 

When Alice is not teaching the gorgeous fairy and prince ballerinas, she works as a Registered Nurse, caring for premature and unwell newborn babies at the hospital. She loves music, the beach and spending time with her loved ones.


Alice strives to create a happy and safe space for little people to express themselves through movement, whilst encouraging kindness towards their classmates. Alice is extremely excited to be returning to her HDA family and cannot wait to share her passion for dance with our little fairies and princes.