Dance Arts Alliance
exists to

CONNECT

with and support the Dance Arts community to foster collaboration, nurture networks and facilitate a spirit of unity

ADVOCATE

for the Dance Arts industry

CREATE

connections with the community, government bodies, education, sport and recreation industries, and dance associations.

PROVIDE

the Dance Arts industry with best practice, research, resources and governance needed to achieve their goals and ambitions. 

ENCOURAGE

communities to appreciate and participate in the arts 

Who 
we are

Dance Arts Alliance is a formally incorporated association and is run by an elected managing committee of industry representatives.  

CURRENT SITTING COMMITTEE

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Chair

Melanie Gard

Melanie Gard

Vice Chair

Julie Ryrie Anderson

Julie Ryrie Anderson

Treasurer

Tammy Davidson

Tammy Davidson

Secretary

Carmen Powell

Carmen Powell

Board Member

Jessica Modica Crichton

Jessica Modica Crichton

Board Member

Karen Edwards

Karen Edwards

Board Member

Karen Malek

Karen Malek

Board Member

Rachel Fuga

Rachel Fuga

Board Member

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Chair

Mike Harrison-Lamond is the Director of the Australian Academy of Dance, alongside partner Nathaniel Harrison-Lamond – together, they have built the school over the past 15 years.

Mike has a background in design and communication, having worked for firms in Australia, the UK and Canada. He also has done extensive work for all levels of government and the non-profit and NGO sector. Mike has always had a passion for the arts, and has been connected with the industry from a young age – having performed in a number of shows when he was younger, then becoming a designer, to more recently producing and staging shows.

In July 2019, Mike and Nathaniel took a 15 year lease on two buildings and went through a 6 month process to create new dance studios to train in. In the adjacent building, the pair are setting up a black-box theatre, a training ground for their students, as well as the local performing arts community (including other dance schools!). It is Mike’s dream to have a performing arts venue that is run by artists, for artists – and for it to become an ongoing part of the local arts landscape.

While Mike comes to the Dance Arts Alliance from a different path than the other members, his experience working within the arts industry, and his advocacy work inside and outside government has helped him provide support to the group.

Mike is extremely grateful for the honour of being the Chair of the Dance Arts Alliance, to work alongside dedicated, driven and professional Committee members, as well as talented Dance Studio Owners within the Alliance membership group.

It is Mike’s hope while in the position, he can help build the reputation and achievements of the Dance Arts Alliance while supporting an industry to unite and have a clear voice.

Melanie Gard

Melanie Gard

Vice Chair

Melanie Gard is Director of Peninsula School of Dance, a dance studio located on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia. She is a passionate dance educator and has grown her school in partnership with her husband, Robbie, from a small ballet school running in a community hall, which they purchased in 2006, to a vibrant dance and performing arts studio that caters for over 400 students each week. Melanie is a Licentiate with Cecchetti Ballet Australia, holder of a Cert IV in Dance Teaching & Management, Cert IV in Workplace Training and Assessment and has a Bach of Arts in Disability Studies (Deakin University) and is an affiliate member of Australian Teachers of Dance (ATOD). Melanie is a YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) accredited teacher and her studio is one of only a handful in Australia to currently hold this international accreditation.

Prior to taking the directorship of Peninsula School of Dance, Melanie worked in the area of Disability and Community Development. She was involved in a number of groundbreaking projects and policy developments that involved the devolution of institutional settings. Many of these projects involved working in partnership with local government and community organisations to develop and deliver programs that were inclusive of people of all abilities.  It is this experience that Melanie has been able to bring to her Dance Studio and develop an inclusive school environment.

As a well-respected member of the dance community, Melanie been invited to speak at various conferences including Exchange, the Victorian Dance Festival, Cecchetti Ballet and in various online webinars. Melanie sits on the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s Arts and Culture Advisory Panel as a representative of dance and the performing arts.

Melanie is a passionate advocate for ensuring that the performing arts are inclusive and accessible for all. It brings her the greatest joy to see kids of all abilities deriving the benefits of dance that were afforded to her by her dance teachers.

Julie Ryrie Anderson

Julie Ryrie Anderson

Treasurer

Julie started dancing at the age of two. She did her CSTD (Comdance) Jazz, Tap and Ballet Exams. During her teens, Julie and her family were heavily involved in local Musical theatre where Julie not only performed in shows but preferred to be out the back doing props, painting and making sets, doing follow spots or front of house.

After high school Julie studied Science and then went onto become a primary school teacher. She married her husband Charlie, a Gulf War veteran and went on to have 4 daughters.

In 2006, after being a performing arts teacher for the previous 7 years, Julie went into partnership with her sister Suzie Ryrie, to run Suzie’s already successful dance school. Suzie and Julie have been running the school together for the past 14 years where they teach Comdance Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Contemporary and Musical Theatre exams along with many other General classes.

For the Past 21 years Julie has been voluntarily advocating for Veterans. She has represented them on several advisory committees and has made multiple submissions to senate enquiries as well as independent inquiries into Veteran’s Affairs including the productivity commission’s recent study.

Over the past 10 years, Julie has had extensive experience with dealings with government officials whilst advocating for veterans through several forums including Round tables, advisory committees, consultative committees as well as being asked to provide insights from someone working at the coalface, on Veteran Matters.

Julie has been instrumental in getting legislation created to ensure veterans are covered for ailments caused by service. She was involved in getting legislation created for Gulf War Veterans and more recently was involved in having legislation created to cover members of the Defence Force who contract Covid-19. Julie is a current member of 10 veteran representatives on The Dept. of Veteran Affairs Secretary’s Round table, in Canberra.

In January 2020 Julie was awarded an OAM for her service to veterans and their families.

Julie is excited to be a part of Dance Arts Alliance to help people in our industry get back on their feet after these strange times of COVID-19. 

Tammy Davidson

Tammy Davidson

Secretary

Tammy Davidson is the Director of Academy Dance Victoria located in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs.   She has taught dance for 25 years and has a diverse teaching background with an emphasis on Ballet, but remains an original all rounder with a continued love of teaching Jazz, Tap, Song & Dance and Acrobatics.  She holds a Diploma of Performing Arts, Diploma of Dance Teaching & Management and Australian Gymnastics Coaching Certificate.  Tammy is an affiliate of the ATOD and a mentor for the RAD teachers accreditation program.

She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and spent time working in the business areas of Dance/Sports Medicine and financial advising for many years.     Following her passion for classical ballet Tammy established State Youth Ballet Company offering ballet students around Victoria the opportunity to be involved with Pre-Professional ballet performances twice a year.  In her personal life she  has been involved in foster care for 10 years, having cared for 43 foster children and is the proud mother of 4 adopted children via foster care.   Tammy is thrilled to be involved in establishing Dance Arts Alliance and looks forward to serving the Dance community to provide our industry with a framework for future success.

Carmen Powell

Carmen Powell

Board Member

READ BIO

With a love of children, my passion is to advocate, support and empower our future generation of leaders.

For more than 35 years I have been involved with children’s and youth performing arts.

As Co-Director of Masquerade Talent Studios, it has allowed me to create musical theatre programs and an early learning pre school music and movement programs that bring joy to families.

As a foster carer for 20 plus years, my experiences with government agencies has enhanced my knowledge to provide quality arts programs that extend to the development and well being of children and young people. Including paediatric medical needs, disabilities and their supporting organisations and Auslan skills.

Currently, I hold a position on the City of Casey Access and Inclusion advisory committee with a priority for advocating for young adults with disabilities, access to local employment.  Supporting local Social Enterprise to provide inclusive access programs for opportunity, purpose and social engagement for all abilities including those with mental health challenges.

Throughout this educational journey, I have also worked in business management and administration that has provided knowledge for business practice and human relations.

At 50 years of age, I have raised 5 children with a wonderful husband and I like to be creative at home by making cakes and cupcakes!

Jessica Modica Crichton

Jessica Modica Crichton

Board Member

Jessica Modica Crichton, commenced her dance training at a young age under the supervision of a variety of highly respected teachers in the dance industry. Jessica has studied many syllabi including examinations with: I.S.T.D (Cecchetti), C.S.T.D, C.D.T.A, M.D.E.S and adap (Jazz, Tap, Classical Ballet, Contemporary, & Character). Jessica has studied Dance at Deakin University and Dance Education and Business Management at Box Hill Institute.

Wanting to expand her knowledge and qualifications she has completed a Diploma Dance teaching and Management, Certificate IV in Dance teaching, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Certificates in Fitness, Acrobatic Arts Certified, Certification in Progressing Ballet technique, Certified Body Balance Instructor, Certified Barre teacher, Qualified Yoga teacher and Certified in YPAD Safety and Wellness. Jessica is currently completing a Dip. Holistic Counselling and Dip. Sports Nutrition.

In the spare time she has, Jessica is also involved in teaching VCE Dance, VET Dance and Diploma’s to dance students and teachers. Jessica is also an accredited dance examiner, examining dance throughout Australia.

Jessica was the first Accredited Dance teacher in Victoria with Australian Dance institute. She was humbled when invited to rewrite and reconstruct their Jazz curriculum for their nationally recognised courses.

Jessica takes great pride in helping others and giving back to the Dance and Fitness industry. She loves to share her accumulated knowledge and experiences with her students, teachers and industry friends.

In 2012, after 14 years of teaching and fulfilling the role of Head of Dance at a Performing Arts school, Jessica decided it was time to open her own dance studio – The Dance Centre. Jessica had a vision to bring together all of her accumulated knowledge to offer specialised courses and Holistic focussed classes in Dance, Fitness and Yoga to students of all ages and abilities.

In 2020, Jessica was honoured to be offered a position on the committee of Dance Arts Alliance. She looks forward to connecting, helping and supporting the Dance Arts community.

Karen Edwards

Karen Edwards

Board Member

It was in the blood when at the age of 2, Karen was in her element performing ballet positions on the family’s kitchen table. Karen trained at The Bev Palmer Dancers under the watchful eye of mum (Bev) in all dance styles including classical ballet, tap, jazz and musical theatre.  Karen has also trained and worked with choreographers such as Tony Bartuccio, Jillian FitzGerald, Ross Coleman, David Atkins, Barbara Warren Smith and many others.

Following her training, Karen took to the professional stage and made a living as a singer/dancer for the 13 years beginning as a singer/dancer at Rembrandts Theatre restaurant.  Following this Karen established a successful television career as a regular dancer at Channel Nine on such shows as: The Don Lane Show, Hey Hey Its Saturday, The Bert Newton show, The Ernie Sigley show and the Mike Walsh show.  Along with the stars of these shows, Karen worked alongside notable performers including: John Farnham, Ricky May, Olivia Newton John, Chelsea Brown , Kerrie-anne Kennerly, Skyhooks, Kylie and Danni Minogue, Jon English to name just a few.Karen’s television credits also include performances on: Australian Film Awards, Australia Day Live Concerts, The Logie Awards, Countdown and several television series.

Following her successful performing career, Karen turned her attention to teaching alongside Bev at the Bev Palmer Dancers and brought with her a contemporary outlook to complement the traditional styles within the school.  Karen’s cutting edge choreography, attention to detail and strong production values are highly respected across Melbourne’s dance industry. Karen has choreographed and produced fashion parades for Prodigee Children’s Fashion and Designer Kidz for over 15 years. She currently choreographs and provides children for fashion parades for Westfield Shopping Centres all over Melbourne. With over 40 years as a performer and teacher in the entertainment industry, Karen now embraces the new era with the evolution of the Bev Palmer Dancers into Bev Palmer Performing Arts.

Karen Malek

Karen Malek

Board Member

Karen is President of Transit Dance Initiative – a not for profit organization which promotes youth projects and opportunities for Australian communities.  Karen is also Director of Education at Transit Dance – a full time training facility for pre professional dancers and teachers of dance.

Karen is Patron of the Victorian Dance Festival and is a former President of ATOD and ATODI from 2007 – 2017.

Karen has been an Adjudicator of the Performing Arts for over 20 years; a teacher of theatrical dance for over 45 years and an Examiner for the Australian Teachers of Dancing for over 25 years.  

Karen has taught students all aspects of theatrical dance with many students winning scholarships and awards in Classical Ballet, Jazz and Tap. Karen has touched the lives of 1,000’s of students who now enjoy successful careers in their respective fields – dancers, dance teachers, physiotherapists, lawyers, chartered accountants, school teachers and more.

Karen is a graduate of The Australian Ballet School Teachers’ Course 1997.  

Karen has a Diploma of Dance Teaching & Management, Diploma of Management, Diploma of Musical Theatre, Cert IV in Business (Governance), a Cert IV in TAE, Working with Children Check and current 1st Aid Certificate.

Karen is the immediate past President of ATOD and former President of ATODI – the international branch of the company. During her time as President and/or on the board as a Director was Chair of Curriculum Development. She has has been innovative in creating new resources in systems of training in the Performing Arts. 

During her time on the Board ATOD has attained RTO status and commenced an auspice program for schools to partner with ATOD to offer qualifications on the National Framework. Karen was instrumental in creating the ATOD Emergency Relief Fund which supports teachers and students in their time of need.  The fund has contributed thousands of dollars to students and teachers over the years. She was instrumental in commencing a professional development opportunity for teachers Come Together Dance Convention which commenced in 2009.  

Her main focus during her time on the board was to support members in a tangible way and she suggested and encouraged the Board to approve the exchange of resources – old for new – at no additional cost to the members. 

She was also instrumental in attaining Federal Government Funding for dance teachers to upskill to the then new dance qualifications on the National Framework. This funding became a catalyst for ATOD to secure their first freehold Head Office building in Queensland.

Karen has proven to be innovative in her approach to getting the job done and has great Vision for the industry.  She is passionate and committed to continue to contribute in a meaningful way.

Rachel Fuga

Rachel Fuga

Board Member

Rachel Dunne Fuga is the Director & Founder of Dance Street™ in Bundoora, which has been operating for 8 years. 
Starting with just 20 students at the beginning of 2013, Dance Street™ has grown rapidly with over 180 students to date. Creating a family of dancers and performers by allowing the freedom of dancing for fun whilst still maintaining proper training and encouraging all to dance regardless of age, ability or style preference is the primary focus for her school.
 
Rachel has been teaching for 30 years and dancing for over 40. She started studying Classical Ballet & Tap at the Heidelberg Ballet School aged 2, then joined the world of DanceSport at age 5 training at Keith Collins School of Dance, Granada Dance Centre and The DanceWorx. She started her Jazz training at age 6 and went on to help run and manage Stiletto Dance Studio with her Mum, Barbara.
 
Qualified D.F.T.A, FitIn60 Barre & PBT instruction, Rachel has trained in and loved all styles of dance and is passionate about passing this love of dance technique and music appreciation on to her students. 
 
Rachel has performed on numerous TV shows, appeared in many print media articles & has travelled internationally for competitions and floorshows. Training and competing professionally in DanceSport she achieved many accolades, including Australian Professional Rising Star Champion in both Latin & Standard. She was ranked 1st in Victoria in 10 Dance, was Victorian Theatrical Champion, has represented Australia Internationally and won many State, National & International titles.
 
Rachel has also worked in Sales & Marketing and Project Sales Management and completed both a Diploma of Sales & Marketing and a Diploma of Digital Marketing.
 
Having danced her entire life, Rachel is dedicated to dance and performing arts and the joy it brings.

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