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


Emma Donaldson

Advanced 2 BBO Ballet, Intermediate Cecchetti Ballet, Advanced BBO Jazz, Advanced UK Tap, Advanced BBO Character
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 in Sydney and around NSW. I began teaching in Sydney, taking Jazz and Hip Hop classes. I started attending classes at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz in 2008 when I moved to Dunedin and began teaching classes for Mrs Bennett in 2011. In 2013, I started taking Jazz syllabus classes, preparing students for their exams and I now take classes in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Musical Theatre, Stretch and Conditioning, Adults classes and prepare students for competitions with solos and troupes dances.

I have kept performing since moving to Dunedin, was in the Big Night In at the Stadium in 2011. I was also part of the Otago Dancers for 4 years, dancing at various corporate and sporting events and flew to Los Angeles to perform at Disneyland in 2015. I have been involved in the Musical Theatre scene in Dunedin for a since 2014, choreographing the likes of Mamma Mia, Grease - The Arena Spectacular, Mary Poppins, Wicked and Chicago to name a few.

I’m really looking forward to the year ahead at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz, I can’t wait to see the returning students, meet the new students and get started on teaching the new grade work.


Ana Finnie

Jazz Dance NZ Advanced 1

I started at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz in 2008 and my passion for dance started to grow. In 2017 I started as a teacher helper in Tiny Tots classes to share my love for dance with the younger students. In 2020 I got the opportunity to teach my own classes. I have enjoyed seeing the kids learn and grow and am looking forward to seeing returning and new student show their creativity.

Kate Ward

Advanced 1 Ballet, Advanced 1 Jazz

I started ballet lessons at Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz in 2010, where my love and passion for dance began to grow. In 2020 I started as a Tiny Tots helper to expand my passion for teaching and to watch the younger students find their own love for dance. I finished at Otago Girls’ High School in 2023 and I am currently taking a gap year to focus on teaching dance. As well as teaching, I have taken on various styles of dance at BSBJ including ballet, jazz, tap and musical theatre.

I am so excited for the opportunity to teach many of my own classes and help the younger students prepare for exams and the amazing end of year concert!

Phoebe Harris

Advanced 1 Cecchetti Ballet, Intermediate Jazz, Senior Gold Tap

I started at the Bennett school when I was 4 years old where I discovered my love for dance. Over my time at BSBJ I have taken classes in various different styles such as Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, and Russian Character. In 2020 I began my journey as a Tiny Tots helper, where from there I developed an enjoyment of working with the younger students. I am now going into year 13 at Trinity Catholic College, and I am thrilled to be teaching my very own tiny tots class this year. I am looking forward to meeting all the young students, and I hope to encourage their love of dance to grow just as mine did.


Kilda Northcott

I grew up studying RAD Classical Ballet, passing the Intermediate level and performing in the end of year shows with the Ruby Conway School of Dance in Kawerau, in the Bay of Plenty.
I studied Classical and Contemporary dance full time in Auckland, at the New Zealand Dance Centre directed by Russel Kerr (Classical and Repertoire) and Basil Pattison (Contemporary).
In the early 1970s I went to Sydney, Australia to further my studies in Contemporary Dance at The Bodenwieser Dance Centre in Sydney Australia and then onto America to study Modern Dance at The Merce Cunningham School in New York and performing and collaborating in both those cities.
I returned to Auckland in the late 1970s and was a founding member of Movement Theatre in Education and then The Limbs Dance Company. I returned to Sydney in 1983 to join Darc Swan directed by Chris Jannides who also founded Limbs and collaborated with other choreographers and companies in Australia.
In 1989 I returned to NZ to become a founding member of The Douglas Wright Dance Company.
I then freelanced as a performer/teacher of dance in and around NZ which I continue to do as of 2024.
On returning Aotearoa in 1989 I based myself in Wellington, where I taught Contemporary Dance at The Wellington Performing Arts Centre.
I was also co-director and co-choreographed works with Lynne Pringle as part of Bipeds.
I then moved to Dunedin where I have been based since 2006. Initially, I taught Contemporary Dance at Dance Theatre Arts, director Caroline Claver.
I am now based at the Bennett School of Ballet and Jazz.
In 2021 I collaborated with Auckland based Alyx Duncan on a film/movement work ‘Fear Becomes Her’ which was completed in June 2021 and will be out in film festivals in the near future, as well as being accepted to be shown/exhibited at Pa Homestead/Gallery in Auckland this year, 2024.
Over the last couple of years I have been involved with outside and inside ‘site specific works’ co-ordinated by Ali East and Miriam Marler and with the Ake Ake Theatre Company in two productions – a Matariki inspired collaboration ‘The Guest House’ written and directed by Jessica Latton, Ake Ake Theatre Company and Macbeth in Summer Shakespear in the Park.
I am also looking forward to being involved in the restaging of the Douglas Wright work ‘Forever’ reinhabiting my role as ‘The Nurse’ which is to be part of the Auckland International Arts Festival in 2026.
I have a son, Iharaira and I am grandmother to Aurora, Hunter and Otis.
Once again, I am looking forward to returning to mentor the 5pm Contemporary class where we can have fun as well as inspiring our movement potential.

Student Helpers 2023

Back left to right: Zoe, Lily, Ruby, Eleanor
Front left to right: Larisa, Matilda, Cameron

Absent: Jasmine

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.

    2017 started full time Circus training at The Circus Hub in Wellington.

    2018 started full time Classical Ballet training at NZ School of Dance in Wellington.

    2018 started full time Contemporary training at NZ School of Dance in Wellington.

    2021 started full time Classical training at Conlan College in Sydney Australia.

    2023 started at Unitec Auckland to study Contemporary Dance.

    2024 started full time Classical training at NSW International Ballet Academy (formerly Conlan College) in Sydney Australia.


Each year the Dance School holds a production

  • 2023     Cinderella

  • 2022     12 Dancing Princess 

  • 2021     Snow Queen

  • 2020     Wild Wild West

  • 2019     Christmas Carol     

  • 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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