About Us


Principal: Shona Bennett


Holder of CUA40313 Certificate IV
in Dance Teaching & Management
Registered Teacher of Cecchetti Ballet Australia and Jazz Dance New Zealand
Member of NZADT

With an Licentiate in teaching, Shona is fully qualified and registered to teach ballet.  She is also a registered teacher of Jazz Dance NZ.  In 2011 Shona passed her Licentiate Teaching Exam and is holder of Certicate IV in Dance Teaching and Management.

Shona began her training in Dunedin at the age of six with Helen Bray and went on to study at the NZ School of Dance as a teacher trainee, withdrawing from the course due to serious injury.  Once recovered and still with the passion to teach, she trained under Helen Bray to sit her first teaching exam. Since opening in 1994 with one class, the school has steadily grown, instilled with the philosophy that all children and adults should enjoy the world of dance and how it can benefit their lives.

Shona's future goals are to sit further teaching exams, continue to learn about dance physiology, anatomy and injury prevention, and to continue building on the high standards of achievement at the school, above all sharing a love and enjoyment of dance with all her pupils.

Our Teachers


Jemma Dougherty

Cecchetti Advanced 1 Ballet
I’ve been dancing at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz since 2006 and teaching here for 4 ½ years.  I am currently working at Cotton On Kids.  I’m so excited to be continuing teaching this year and to see my students through their exams and the end of year concert.  I hope to have another great year and learn more of the Cecchetti syllabus in preparation for the teaching exams I will sit this year and in the following years.


Meredith Walker

Cecchetti Advanced 1 Ballet
I started ballet lessons at the age of 5, and have been dancing at the Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz for 7 years, where I now take classes in ballet and jazz. I have been volunteering as a teacher helper for Tiny Tots for the past four years and am very excited to begin teaching my own class this year. I am currently in my final year of high school and recently completed my Advanced 1 ballet exam. I can’t wait for another great year at BSBJ and to meet all the new students!


Emma Holloway

Advanced 2 BBO, BBO Advanced 1 Jazz, Advanced 1 UK Tap
I am a Sydney born dancer, trained in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Character, Contemporary and Hip Hop.  I started working as a dancer at the age of 17 and completed numerous overseas contracts in India and Taiwan as well as performing throughout Sydney and around NSW.  I began teaching in Sydney, taking Jazz and Hip Hop classes at ‘Macquarie Dancers’ and ‘All Stars’ dance studios. I started attending classes at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz in 2008 when I moved to Dunedin.  In 2011 I began teaching a Tap class at the school and Musical Theatre in 2012 and 2013.  I also started teaching Jazz in 2013, preparing students for their exams and the end of year concert.  Since being in Dunedin I have also performed in the Big Night In production at the Stadium in 2011 and been a part of the Otago Dancers since 2012 dancing at various Rugby, Cricket and Basketball games including the NZ Breakers and the All Blacks.  In 2015 I flew over to Los Angeles to perform our show at Disneyland.  I’m really looking forward to the year ahead at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz, I'm can't wait to see the returning students and meet the new ones and look forward to getting started on their new grade work.


Kilda Northcott

Growing up in Kawerau, I studied dance and performed end of year shows with the Ruby Conway School of Dance.   I then went on to study fulltime in Auckland at The New Zealand Dance Centre directed by Russell Kerr and Basil Pattison, followed by study at The Bodenwieser Dance Center in Sydney, Australia & modern dance at The Merce Cunningham School in New York, New York, performing in both those cities. Returning to Auckland in the late 1970's I became a founding member of Movement Theatre in Education & then The Limbs Dance Company.  I returned to Sydney in 1983 and joined Darc Swan directed by Chris Jannides who also founded Limbs.  In 1989 I returned to New Zealand to become a founding member of The Douglas Wright Dance Company then freelanced as a performer/teacher of dance in and around New Zealand.  Based in Wellington, I taught contemporary dance at The Wellington Performing Arts Center.  I was also co-director & co-choreographed works with Lyne Pringle as part of Bipeds.  I then moved to Dunedin where I have been since 2006. I am about to return to the stage (after a total right hip replacement) with Douglas Wright in his latest work  'A Kiss Inside' at the International Arts Festival in Wellington in March. I am looking forward to returning to Bennett School of Ballet & Jazz to teach contemporary.


Student Helpers

Back left to right: Sophie Silcock, Madeline Simons, Ana Finnie
Front left to right: Lucy Woodhouse, Abby Knowles

Student Achievements

A number of our students have excelled in their training and continue to pursue careers in dance

    Presently working as Cruise Director for Coral Princess after career as dancer/dance captain/assistant cruise director on cruise ships around the world.
    Graduate of the National Theatre Ballet School in Melbourne, has been working in the field of Pilates/Yoga training.

    Winner of the 2005 Cecchetti Scholarship to attend Summer School in Melbourne

  • Graduate of Contemporary from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London and National Theatre Ballet School, Melbourne.  Currently on contract with Laban Dance Company (London).  Winner of the 2006 Cecchetti Scholarship to attend Summer School in Melbourne, also winning a part scholarship while at Summer School in 2006.  Third place in the Junior Section and Audience Choice Award at the National Ballet Awards held in Christchurch, September 2008.

    Winner of the 2007 Cecchetti Scholarship to attend Summer School in Melbourne.  Graduate of NZ School of Dance (contemporary).  Danced with Footnote Dance Company as freelance dancer. Currently freelance dancer in New Zealand.
    Graduate of WA Conservatoire of Classical Ballet (Perth). Graduate of Lee Academy of Dance in Sydney. Worked with The Wiggles, dancing and promotional work in India.  Contract starting in April 2017 with Moulin Rouge, Paris.
    Graduate of Whitireia New Zealand with a Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance).  Danced in Les Folies de l'Amour and Silhouette Pro dance ensembles. Performed in a commercial for Huawei, with Scarlett Johansson. Dannielle has also studied circus skills in Wellington.

    Graduate of Australian Ballet School, Melbourne.  Chosen for an exchange programme with Canada's National Ballet School and the School of American Ballet.  Currently has contract with Australian Ballet Company and was the 2015 Bloch Ambassador. Third place in the Senior section at the National Ballet Awards held in Christchurch, September 2008.  Received a two week scholarship to attend Summer School at Ballet Victoria, Melbourne.  Winner of the 2008 Cecchetti Scholarship to attend Summer School in Melbourne.
    Passed her Associate Teachers Exam in the Cecchetti Method.

    Passed her Associate Teachers exam and Associate Diploma Part 1 & Part 2 in the Cecchetti Method.

    2017 started full time dance training at Transit Dance in Melbourne.


Each year the Dance School holds a production

  • 2018     Snow White
  • 2017     Hansel and Gretel
  • 2016     Aladdin
  • 2015     Cinderella
  • 2014     Peter Pan
  • 2013     The Snow Queen
  • 2012     The Christmas Carol
  • 2011     Wild Wild West
  • 2010     Aladdin
  • 2009     Cinderella
  • 2008     Peter Pan
  • 2007     Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • 2006     Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • 2005     Wild Wild West
  • 2004     Christmas Carol
  • 2003     Snow Queen



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