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Meet the 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.

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.

Elise Watkins

Elise comes to HDA with a personal collection of tap shoes that out-numbers days in the week! She is passionate about all things tap and really enjoys helping students gain confidence while developing correct tap dancing technique. Elise also teaches other styles of theatrical dance and particularly enjoys creating entertaining song & dance numbers.
Elise is a caring and dedicated teacher and this has seen her students win many awards. When she’s not in a dance studio you’ll most likely find her watching 80’s and 09’s sitcom reruns.

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.

Talia Fidra

Born in Sydney, Talia Fidra began dancing at the age of 4. While training under Prudence Bowen, Atelier, in The Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, she won the silver medal in the 2016 Adeline Genee International Ballet Competition. During Talia’s early years, she was chosen as the first ever Australian Capezio ambassador. In 2017, she began full time training at the Queensland Ballet Academy on the Paulette Carson Scholarship.

Fidra joined the Queensland Ballet Company in 2018, as a young artist, at age 17, the youngest contracted dancer in the companies history. In 2019 she was promoted to company artist.

Her repertory with the Company includes corps de ballet roles in Queensland Ballet’s Nutcracker by Ben Stevenson, La BayadeĚre by Greg Horsmen, Cinderella by Ben Stevenson, Swan Lake by Ben Stevenson, Giselle, Greg Horsmen’s Sleeping Beauty, Balanchine’s Serenade, Kenneth Mcmillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Liam Scarlet’s Mid Summers Night’s Dream, Dracula Choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor and Etudes by Harald Lander. Contemporary works include Bespoke 18’ - 21’. Fidra also performed the first artist role as a "Spanish Dancer" in The Nutcracker, and a soloist role for the Company’s Sleeping Beauty as the “Beauty Fairy”. She has appeared as a guest artist with the Queensland Pops Orchestra “New Years Eve Gala” 2017, Le Corsaireě Pas de Deux, and Jack Lister's contemporary Pas De Deux.

Talia has performed on many world class stages including, Lincoln Center Theatre, The Sydney Opera House, The National Centre for the Performing Arts, Shanghai Hongqial Performing Arts Centre, among others.

During 2019-2021 Fidra taught ballet to the QB Junior Friends and was an ambassador for the Company featuring in social media platforms, marketing photoshoots, filmed events and educational workshops. Fidra was also a guest teacher for the QB junior friends at local ballet schools around Queensland. QBA featured Talia in several teaching seminars as guest speaker and ballet dance demonstrator across Australia for ballet technique and character dance throughout her student years.

Fidra has taught and choreographed ballet solos and contemporary pieces her whole life; including on herself, in many competitions such as the 2016 YAGP finals, New York.

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