Flare Dance Company


Tonia Beggs

Tonia’s love of dance stems from watching Musical theatre productions in her hometown of Ballarat.  She commenced Jazz ballet classes at the age of 10 and went on to learn Classical Ballet (RAD), contemporary and tap from age 13. Throughout her high school years she performed in school and community productions, as well as competing in eisteddfods and completing VCE dance. After moving to Melbourne in 2003 to attend La Trobe University, Tonia searched for a way to continue her love of dancing. In 2007 she started Street & Ballroom Latin tuition, learning the basics in a range of Latin styles. Her focus has since been on learning and performing Latin dance styles whenever time permits! Her favourite Latin styles are Salsa (L.A. & Cali styles) and Reggaeton (Latin hip hop), though she has learnt Zouk Lambada, Cha Cha, Tango & Bachata along the way. Flare Dance Company is just what Tonia has been looking for, combining a sense of community together with an opportunity to share with others her passion for dance.

Catherine Day

Catherine started dancing when she was 13 at the public high school in Kalgoorlie, WA. She mainly danced jazz and contemporary and a year of acrobatics before starting gymnastics at the age of 15.  Catherine moved away from her family at the age of 17 to pursue contemporary dance and gymnastics studies in Melbourne.  Catherine completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Dance) with Distinction at Deakin University in 2013. Catherine now coaches gymnastics at Wesley College. Catherine has been dancing with FDC since 2011 and has loved every minute of it.

Sarah Evans

For information about Shermaine’s background, please refer to the Artistic Directors' page.

Helen Gizabehir
Fanny Hanusin

Fanny Hanusin studied theatre-making at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her dance training is in improvisational movement and physical theatre. She has toured to the Adelaide Fringe Festival with experimental dance theatre company Hybrid deFlex, and performed live at The Logies in Indigeridoo, a dance piece from the acclaimed hit comedy series We Can Be Heroes. Fanny’s bilingual movement solo show, Pempek, was selected to premiere in Ambyar Indonesian Arts Festival.

Her first performance with the Company was in 2011’s Headlines where as well as dancing, she also played a sassy news reporter. She is interested in further exploring comedy, spoken text and vocalisation in dance. Fanny enjoys being part of the Company because it provides a creative and open environment for people who are passionate about dance and also has a philanthropic spirit by giving back to the community.

As an actor, Fanny has received theatre’s premier Green Room Award as best actress. Her highlights include performing with the MTC (Melbourne Theatre Company) and starring in Bogan Pride, a cult musical comedy TV miniseries. She has also appeared in numerous TV shows such as Prank Patrol, Offspring, The Slap, and Better Man.

Apart from performing, Fanny works in finance and fundraising for the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Other interests include Auslan and singing. She currently volunteers for Voices without Borders, a choir project that aims to include asylum seekers in the community through singing.

Shermaine Heng

For information about Shermaine’s background, please refer to the Artistic Directors' page.

Kaela Isley

Born and raised in New Zealand, Kaela began dancing at the age of eight. Kaela was accepted into the International Ballet Academy at 16 years old. After studying dance full-time for three years, Kaela graduated with Distinction from the International Ballet Academy in 2005 with a Diploma in Dance Performance. Kaela has also choreographed and produced her own original piece which was performed by International Ballet Academy students in 2005 with great success and gained special mention by New Zealand dance icon, Russell Kerr. Kaela's extensive performance experience includes dancing in the finale of Australia’s Got Talent 2011 and in the International Ballet Academy’s Graduation and Choreographic productions. This is Kaela’s second year dancing with Flare Dance Company and she thoroughly enjoys dancing in its annual production. Kaela loves challenging and expressing herself through dance and is certain it will always play a big part in her life.

Emily Jackson

Melbourne born Jonathan commenced traditional martial arts training at the age of 10 and went on to achieve the highest rank in his school. He joined the Melbourne University Dancesport Club, where he was Vice-president in 2002. It was during this time that Jonathan first experienced the joys of partner dancing and the thrill of connecting to another with music. In 2004, he entered the competitive ballroom dance scene. Since then he has partnered with various dancers and won competitions across Victoria. With his partners, he has choreographed and performed pieces for corporate, social and Performing Arts/ community events. In 2008, he travelled to Europe and the US to further extend his dance training. He has taught at numerous studios around Melbourne including ‘The Space’ and ‘Passion Studio’.  He has also introduced dance short courses at Melbourne, Monash and RMIT Universities. Jonathan performed in many shows with ‘Travel Art Dance Company’ (an improvisation dance group) in 2009 to further develop his skills.

Elizabeth Kerr

Elizabeth Kerr has choreographed and taught dance world wide and now resides in Victoria. She specialises in Contemporary, Jazz, Tap and Musical Theatre. She is FATD trained, starting dancing at the age of 4, and is a qualified teacher in all FATD disciplines of Ballet, Tap and Modern. During her 12 yrs as a professional artist she has travelled far and wide with her work. In 2002 she was commissioned to create a contemporary dance piece in Ontario Canada and has been back twice since, working in the Funk and Hip Hop sector.  While in Canada, Elizabeth was also a freelance teacher at The National Ballet School of Canada’s teacher training program.

In 2004, Elizabeth worked in England teaching A level dance and was a freelance choreographer within the Swindon Teachers Network of Swindon Dance Company for two years.  During her time in England she was privileged to work in collaboration with Rambert Dance where she extended her contemporary dance repertoire. Elizabeth is currently a VCE and VET Dance teacher in Essendon and in 2011 rekindled her passion for choreography and performance when she joined Flare Dance Company.

Jane Khoo

For information about Jane’s background, please refer to the Artistic Directors’ page.

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca learned classical ballet from the age of four, loving the grace and discipline it taught her, as well as the opportunity to dress up in fairytale costumes at the annual production. Hungry to experience other genres of dance, she joined Melbourne University's Flare Dance Ensemble in 2007 and tried contemporary, jazz, house, Broadway, lyrical, and even break dancing. Most of all, the ballerina discovered a zeal for urban and hip-hop styles. Rebecca continued to grow and develop with Flare by joining the Company in 2012, and she attends as many production rehearsals and casual classes as she can fit in between working in marketing, travelling, and eating everything in sight.
Emily Lehmann

Emily started dancing at age seven, when she first learnt to ‘kick ball change’ to 90s classics like ‘Sexy Eyes’ and ‘Where Do You Go’. It was then that the seed was planted and Emily went on to train in modern jazz, classical ballet, tap and contemporary. Throughout her school days, she performed and choreographed solo and group works for regular productions, participated in the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge and completed VCE dance. Emily discovered and joined FDC in 2013 and believes she is part of something quite special. She loves the culture, flexibility and opportunity that FDC provides to adult amateur dancers seeking to create and perform. Outside of FDC, Emily works in PR and communications for the research sector. She likes to travel whenever she can and enjoys skiing, pilates and yoga.

Oshin Mercer

Oshin's passion for dance began at the age of 5, starting in classical ballet (SFD) for fun. In high school, she decided to try out more styles including contemporary, jazz, hiphop, pointe and tap at Dancentre Bayside. She has competed in SFD competitions and eisteddfods and has almost finished a 2 year course of VET dance at Sandringham College. Since 2012 she has been a dancer/model (modelling hats) for a company called Maarvelous millinery and has had many amazing experiences from dancing in front of the public at the city square (2012) performing at the Melbourne Zoo (2013) and performing at the Melbourne Arts Centre (2014). Oshin is currently training 7 days a week at 3 different schools so she can develop her technique and find her most creative side into dance by learning different choreography from various choreographers to challenge herself and her abilities. She cannot imagine life without dance, It is her biggest passion. Oshin is still only 17 so once she finishes school she hopes to do something along the lines of contemporary dance and hopefully fulfil a career in the dance industry!

Elena Osalde

Elena was introduced to the Royal Academy of Dance and Russian ballet techniques at an early age in Mexico. She later studied jazz under the instruction of the Cuban choreographer Jorge Lizaso. Elena was also introduced to tap dance by the musical theatre choreographer Roberto Ayala while also experimenting with contemporary dance and other artistic forms of expression during her university years. Elena completed a Bachelor of Computer Science and a Master in Business Administration at Tecnologico de Monterrey, where she also received a Diploma in Cultural Diffusion for her participation in the representative choir, tap and jazz ensembles. In Australia, Elena is currently undertaking a Certificate in Dance and Performance. She has been an active member of the Flare Dance Company since 2012, where for the first time she is choreographing within one of the most encouraging atmospheres.

Shihoko Pearson

Shihoko started learning and performing for Studio One Dance Academy in the country town of Mansfield in 1997, and dance has been her creative outlet since. Whilst seeking to broaden her dance experience, and moving to Melbourne to commence tertiary studies, she joined Flare Dance Ensemble at the University of Melbourne in 2003, performing in Footnotes (2003) and Rhythmicity (2004) where she held a committee role as Vice President. After a minor break to complete a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (2006), Shihoko returned to dance the following year with Flare Dance Company, where she has performed in our annual productions since. Shihoko’s favourite styles are jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary. In 2014 she was invited by Travel Art Dance Company to play the title role in Australasian Chinese Theatre's production "The Search for Xiao Li's Head - A Magical Tale of Female Re- memberment", a unique collaboration of improvisational dance, storytelling, and live music on an outdoor stage. Still a practising physiotherapist, her current interests are undertaking Italian, netball, gymnastics at Wesley College, literature and fine dining.

Govind Pillai

Govind began dancing at the age of 7, specialising in Bharatanatyam, a style of Classical Indian Dance. He is drawn to the intricate rhythms, footwork, and lyrical aspects of this ancient art. For the last 5 years, Govind has been a lead male dancer with the not for profit Samskriti Dance Company (Sydney). He has performed at festival line-ups such as the National Multicultural Festival (Canberra). Govind is also a passionate solo performer, who has choreographed and performed solo works for festivals and community dance events such as the Fine Arts and Cultural Themes Festival (Sydney). His latest solo project has been to perform a feature-length (150minute) solo dance production that was staged in Sydney in Feb 2009 to live music. Govind is also the Melbourne dance correspondent for Sydwhaney, a popular Classical Indian Arts website. Govind enjoys exploring how diverse dance styles and cultures can be blended to create new and innovative work. Govind is also a Management Consultant working with a Melbourne-based consulting firm.

Alana Pryor

With the dream of wearing a tutu and pointe shoes, Alana Pryor began dancing at the age of 6 years in ballet and jazz styles under the instruction of Janine McCucheon and Bronwyn Stiles in New Zealand. Alana then completed the New Zealand Modern Dance Syllabus - Advanced level. As an adolescent, Alana excelled in theatre, singing and dancing in her school productions as well as musicals of local amateur theatre companies. Her passion was fuelled by her peers and mentors at the Havelock North High School, well-reputed in music and theatre. Over the years, Alana has trained in jazz, funk, ballet and contemporary dance whilst juggling her busy work and study schedule. Her interest in performance prompted her to pursue a degree in Classical Studies and Theatre at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. After completing her tertiary studies and moving to Melbourne two years ago, Alana is delighted to be able to embrace dance training fully again. Alana, who describes herself as a “small town beach girl” because of her upbringing in Wine Country, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, loves the stage, the thrill of performing and the underlying history and theories of staged performances. This receptionist hopes to dance for as long as she can. As Alana continues to work towards fulfilling her dream, she now aspires to learn Latin dance styles such as the Tango in South America to discover and appreciate the historical basis and culture of the moves.

Matilda Slatter

Matilda has been learning dancing since she was 10 years old, training in Jazz, Cabaret, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Funk and Acrobatics at Alison Marshall’s All That Jazz dance school in country Victoria. At the age of 13 she became an assistant teacher and at 16 was teaching classes at the school. She moved to Melbourne in 1998 to study full time dance at the Dance Factory where she gained a certificate 3 in Commercial Dance and Performance.  Between travelling and working overseas she has continued to study other styles of dance including Belly Dancing, Salsa, Street Latin, Tango and Hip Hop. Matilda currently works as a Fitness Instructor, Pilates Mat instructor and Dance Teacher.  Missing performing and dancing with a group Matilda was over the moon when she found and joined FDC in 2011 and has enjoyed every minute with them since.

Christina Smith

Christina was born with a flair for the dramatic, training in classical ballet, contemporary dance and drama from her early school going years. She continued to dance and act whenever circumstances allowed between schoolwork, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. At university she also started learning ballroom and latin dancing. She'll try her hand at just about any form of the arts at least once and she knows that whatever happens she'll still be dancing when God comes to bring her home.

Anna Stieger

Anna has started dancing at the age of four in the dance school of her mother in Switzerland. Over the years she performed in numerous productions of the school and also started to teach dance.  At the age of 20 she started a professional dance study program in Rorschach, Switzerland for 2 years and then moved to Holland to study Contempory dance at "Codarts" and received her Bachelor in Dance in Education. Since graduating from "Codarts" she has danced in productions in Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Her love for traveling have brought her to Australian shores 5 years ago. She has since become a Personal Trainer and Mat Pilates instructor and more recently trained in "Garuda". She was very happy to have found FDC and is excited to present her first work this year.
Jessica Tivendale

Jessica Tivendale was born in Canberra and grew up in Devonport, Tasmania and has been living in Melbourne for the past 8 years.  She has been dancing for more than 17 years and has learnt under former Australian Ballet dancer Caroline Small and the late Paul DeMasson.  Jessica has completed degrees Contemporary Arts (Dance major) at Deakin University and Occupational Therapy at La Trobe University and currently works part of the time as a paediatric Occupational Therapist at the Creative Learning Centre as a learning difficulties specialist, and the other part of the time as the operations manager for Candlelight Productions, an arts production company.  Jessica has three passions in life - dance and a desire to see others experience the joys of dance, healing through movement and dance, and empowering and encouraging others to be who they were made to be.

Kaeden Trinh

Kaeden was influenced by SYTYCD to join Flare Dance Ensemble, FDC's sister university dance club in 2008 and dance has become his passion ever since. Over the last few years, Kaeden has been exposed to jazz, latin, urban, jazz funk, contemporary and modern. He has danced in numerous dance productions and at various gigs, as well as choreographing a total of 8 dance pieces, including 1 for FDC in 2012. Balancing dance and non-dance commitments can be challenging but Kaeden is glad to have found this passion because his life has been much more enriching every since.
Emily Trudgen

Emily has always had a love for music and dance, from the time she first watched 'The Sound of Music' and would dance around the house singing 'Sixteen Going on Seventeen'- at the age of four going on five. Emily had her first taste of dance when she attended tap and jazz classes at the local Manningham Arts Centre, from the ages of nine to eleven. Getting to dress up in sequined, fluro, spandex leotards and perform on stage for family and friends, was always a highlight every year. The transition to high school unfortunately brought classes to an indefinite hold, although dancing still remained a pastime. During her university years, Emily had been thinking about getting back into dance and in late 2012 she began regularly taking casual classes. Emily has enjoyed exploring various styles including contemporary, lyrical, ballet, jazz, broadway, latin and hip hop, and was thrilled to have discovered and joined Flare Dance Company in 2013.

Connie Tsang

Perth-born Connie Tsang began dancing jazz and ballet at the age of four. During her undergraduate years at the University of Melbourne, she danced with the Flare Dance Ensemble and led the ensemble as Vice-President in 2003. For four years, she trained and performed in various styles of dance such as contemporary, jazz and hip-hop. Connie has been dancing with Flare Dance Company since its inception and also began choreographing contemporary works for the Company in 2009. Since 2005, Connie has also been training Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art which blends elements of dance, music, acrobatics and fighting. She enjoys incorporating Capoeira-inspired movements into her choreography. Connie currently works as an optometrist with a specialty in children’s vision.