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Shirley Jones OAM

Former Teacher and Soloist with the National Theatre Movement, Former Director & Principal of the Shirlene School of Classical Ballet Est 1963,  Recipient of Order of Australia Medal 2018 for outstanding service to Ballet

Recipient of the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti Diploma, Appointed ISTD Examiner in 1962,

Fellow & Life Member of the ISTD, Member of Cecchetti Ballet Australia & CICB International.

Anthony Pannell 

L.C.B.A., (C.I.C.B) (Lon); R.A.D. Solo Seal; Sadler Wells Opera Ballet (Lon); Het Ballet Nationale (Netherlands);

The Royal Winnepeg Ballet; West Aust. Ballet; Principal - The Scottish Ballet; London Festival Ballet;

Senior Soloist: The Australian Ballet; Grad. Dip. of Educ. (Visual & Perf. Arts

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Teachers and Guest Teachers 2022

Rita Eicens

Rita Eicens


Fellow C.B.A-C.I.C.B. (Distinction.) L.C.I.C.B., A.C.I.C.B (Hon), A.I.S.T.D. (M.T.D.B.) (Lon.). Cert.IV (BSZ098) 8 TAA Cert.IV Units. CUA40313 Certificate IV in Dance Teaching & Management

Holder of the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti Diploma (M.E.C.D.) with Distinction. Life Member Cecchetti International Classical Ballet.  Member Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing  (Lon) Affilate Member Australian Teachers of Dancing. Australian Ballet School Trained,  Guest Teacher/ Adjudicator

Dance is not just a passion, but a way of life for Ms Eicens. She is one of the early lucky prodigies to have gained all her Cecchetti Examinations with Honours, her Cecchetti Diploma in one sitting awarded by Dame Peggy Van Praagh and Athol Willoughby OAM with high distinction and all her teaching degrees from Associate, Licenciate up to Fellowship with Distinction.  

Ms Eicens won both the Junior and Senior Medal tests and the Elementary Scholarship in her younger days of training, She was also awarded the Cecchetti Scholarship at the Australian ballet School. Proudly trained by Shirley Jones OAM, one of the former pupils of Madame Lucie Saranova.  Ms Eicens is one of the lucky few to have had the honor in being trained in her formative years by a descendant of the Cecchetti tree.

"I proudly let people know where my training commenced, treasure and acknowledge with deep gratitude those years that left an indelible mark on my career"

Ms Eicens is well established within the dance industry, her classes are always full of knowledge, a touch of humor and a deep resonating passion for her love of dance. Her knowledge and ongoing studies of Safe Dance Practices including research in Dance Anatomy and progression of Childhood development is a strength in her wisdom to impart on students. 

If you have been lucky to have had Ms Eicens as your teacher or mentor, then you know what dance really is about. 

Deborah Oates

Deborah Oates 

Assistant Director/Beg School Co-Ordinator
 Associate Diploma C.I.C.B. -C.S.B. , CUA40313 Certificate IV in dance teaching & management, B.Arts (Fine Arts), B.Ed (primary & post primary) Member C.I.C.B, Musical Theatre Director, Choreographer and Artiste

Deborah is a founding member of R.V.D.A. commencing in 1980. With over 25 years of classical ballet training with Rita Eicens,  plus jazz, modern, tap, contemporary, folkloric while at RVDA, she has become one of the longest standing and loved dance teachers of the Academy. Deborah  has been educating children for over twenty years in both the educational sector, dance school and amateur theatre settings. She has a rich background in The Arts beginning dancing at the age of five, being involved at least annually with musical theatre productions since her teens and seizing every opportunity to either perform or support performances artistically.

Her passion for the arts is undeniable and her warmth, genuine concern for her students is evident through their responsiveness and joy shown in her classes. Deborah believes that education is there to enrich and support each individual in achieving their best and should be provided in a secure, nurturing and rigorous learning environment which priorities student wellbeing.

Anne O'Connor

Anne Chan

Senior Faculty Member
Associate Diploma C.I.C.B. -C.S.B. ,CUA40313 Certificate IV in dance teaching & management. Attained Adv 2 level C.I.C.B. Member C.I.C.B.

A valued and well respected staff member, Anne’s involvement in dance spans over 35years, commencing her ballet training at the age of 13, firstly with Shirlene School of Classical Ballet for 3 years, then joining RVDA at 16 in 1983 where she was trained in all genres offered at the time; ballet, pointe, modern and jazz. Anne was trained by Ms Eicens in the years that followed her in all her Cecchetti examinations including her Major Dance exams of Intermediate through to Advanced 2, including her Associate Degree and Associate Diploma.

Although a late starter to dance, her love of classical ballet saw her pursue over 20 years of training with RVDA. She was one of the first RVDA student to gain her Cecchetti Advanced 2 certificate (1997) and teaching status; Associate (1992), Associate Diploma (1999).

She has danced in lead roles in “The little Matchgirl” and “The Little Mermaid” as well as many ballet classics such as Prelude from “Les Sylphide”, Peasant Pas de Deux from “Giselle”, Pas de Trois from “Paquita”, Canary Fairy & Silver Fairy from “The Sleeping Beauty”.

A fully registered member of Cecchetti Ballet of Australia, Anne now teaches for many dance schools in Melbourne and has been teaching for over 25 years. She enjoys instilling in her students the purity and elegance of ballet technique, sharing her knowledge, and thrives on her students’ progress and growth through their dancing. Anne loves teaching at RVDA for the individual nurturing care it gives to all its students, within a supportive family friendly atmosphere.

Angela Trimcevski

Angela Petrou

Senior Faculty Member

 Attained Adv 2 Modern Theatre (I.S.T.D.) Member I.S.T.D. (London) VicFit Accredited, TiddlySteps Teacher

Angela is a long standing member of the Academy and is proud for her achievements in dance. Angela is a qualified VicFit instructor and has completed a course in Childrens Creative dance. Angela's skills of working with young children is unchallenged and she instils a strong love and passion for dance in her fledglings. Angela complete all her major exams successfully in Classical Ballet and Modern Theatre Dance. 

Angela has completed her safe dance courses and Angelina Ballerina Workshops. She is a well seasoned teacher that is adored by the young students she instructs. 

Alison Moon-Borton

Alison Moon-Borton

Senior Faculty Member

Attained Adv 2 level C.I.C.B. and Adv 2 Modern Theatre (I.S.T.D.) Member C.I.C.B 

Alison commenced with the Academy in 1992.  She has all through the years been a  loyal and wonderful student and even more so a dedicated and reliable teacher since 2009. Alison is well versed in all genres and excels in Classical Ballet and Contemporary. Her strength lies in her ability to make dance look easy.

Alison is a long standing Mentor for the Cecchetti Summer School held ever year at Melbourne University and is a member of C.I.C.B.

Alison  more recently is completing her Master of Primary Teaching to compliment her dance activites. She is also a STudent Mentor for the Cecchetti Summer School Program. 

Alison is our coordinator for the Cecchetti Choreographics and organiser for special events for students. She is an honors student through all her previous examinations and continues to attend development days to further her abilities and knowledge.


Rhiarn Harrington


Rhiarn began her dance training at Riga Victoria Dance Academy in 2005 and has trained in all genres including:  Cecchetti Ballet, Jazz, I.S.T.D. Modern Theatre, hip hop, contemporary, acro, Tap and commercial. Rhiarn has danced a wide variety of roles in annual performances including a sensational performance as the "Scarecrow" in Journey to Oz. Rhiarn has been described as a talented and dedicated dancer with much to offer in her passion of dance to her students.

Rhiarn has successfully completed Cecchetti and I.S.T.D examinations from Junior levels up to Major. She has also successfullly completed Certificate 2 in dance at Northern college of Arts and Technology,  and currently studying the Certificate 4 in Dance at Kelly Aykers Fulltime Dance Program.

Rhiarn is a passionate and committed dancer, well liked amongst her fellow dancers and students. Rhiarn is now looking forward to passing on her love of dance to her students. 

Alice Palermo

Alice Palermo

Associate Diploma C.I.C.B. -C.S.B. ,Attained Adv 2 level C.I.C.B. Bachelor Arts Contemporary dance, Member C.I.C.B

Alice is a founding member of the Academy, having her dance life begin with R.V.D.A from the age of 5. She is well versed in the operations of the Academy and been a loyal staff member. Alice is an honors dancer as well as a methodical and artistic teacher. 

Alice's credentials include degrees in Couture Fashion and Costume designing and Contemporary Arts and dance. As well as being an accomplished dancer, Alice is a very talented artist with a flair for drawing and painting.

Alice has performed and toured with "Caravan Of Love" the comical theatre production.  She has performed at Melbourne Fringe Festival , Comedy Week, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival .

Alice is a beautiful strong dancer in the genres of Classical, Contemporary and jazz. She is a well loved and valued member of R.V.D.A and continues to bring much joy to classes she takes.


Tess Hudson

Dance Teacher, Performer, Diploma in Dance (Elite Performance), Certificate IV Dance Teaching and Management- Cert 1, 2, and 3 of Early Childhood Education and Care

I started training at the age of four at Attitudes Dance Studio. I have trained in many genres of dance including tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, hip hop and musical theatre. I have competed in competitions as both a soloist and a troupe member and have performed in many fundraisers, concerts and cabarets. Throughout my training I  completed my RAD Grade 1 to 8 ballet exams. In secondary school, I studied and completed VCE dance and decided to continue my studies and training at Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance as a full time student.

At the end of 2020, I received a Diploma in Dance (Elite Performance) and Cert 4 in Dance Teaching and Management. Ministry of Dance has given me many opportunities and new experiences such as performing on Australia’s Got Talent 2019 and on the Grand Final Footy Show. I also got to perform at the 2019 Grand Prix and Melbourne’s White Night Event. I have a big passion for teaching children and have had lots of experience teaching at primary schools for work experience and end of year concerts. I have completed my Cert 1, 2, and 3 of Early Childhood Education and Care while studying at school. I have developed many teaching skills through assistant teaching and substitute teaching with other schools. I have had the joy of teaching for about 3 years now and I enjoy seeing the excitement and delight from students and teaching and mentoring them with new and different skills. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with the students throughout the rest of the year


Matt Benson

We are pleased to welcome Matt to the RVDA teaching staff. 

Originally from Sydney, Matt is celebrating over a decade of dance and is excited to make his debut in Melbourne.

Throughout his time as a teacher, Matt has taught, choreographed  and assisted with creation for over 50 schools around the Sydney, Newcastle and Illawarra regions along with crediting stages for several nightclubs, entertainment for corporate events, charities, entertained crowds for sporting teams.

Professionally Matt has played the role of creating and performing for artists from around the globe including UK artist Luciana, American drag star Adore Delano and Australian artists such as AVALONIA and Kid Mac. With a very solid Certificate IV in both performing arts and dance Matt inspires and encourages creative adolescences to chase their dreams. 

We are excited to see our Advanced Jazz dancers flourish under his strong work ethic and creativity.We are so lucky to have his expertise to pass on. Welcome to the RVDA family for 2019

Alexandra Rando

Alexandra Rando

Bachelor of Creative Arts/Business. Lisa-Marie Parker Vocal Studios. NIDA Music Theatre Essentials. Trained in Musical Theatre Performance, Voice and Acting. 

Alexandra began her dance training at Riga Victoria Dance Academy in 1999 and went on to perform in “The Wizard of Oz” and “Jekyll and Hyde” towards the end of her high school years. Alexandra decided to focus on singing and began to take private vocal lessons specialising in musical comedy/theatre repertoire. 

 Alexandra is currently studying with Musical Theatre performer and three-time Green Room award nominee Lisa Marie Parker (Cats, Blood Brothers) and performed in Parker’s showcase “Hear My Song” at the MC Showroom in 2017 and 2019. Alongside Alexandra’s singing training, she has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Design/Theatre) and Business and has gone on to study a postgraduate diploma in Design. 

 Alexandra displays a vast versatility of theatre arts and completed a Third Year Theatre Studies thesis dedicated to the performance elements within the Shakespearean play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  A passionate lover of classic theatre and musicals, she embodies the style and grace of the golden era of musicals and cinema. During the lockdown period, Alexandra attended zoom workshops with Performance coach Will Centurion, Singer/Songwriter Nina Ferro and Australian Musical Theatre Performer Elisa Colla (Wicked, My Fair Lady) 

 Alexandra is looking forward to sharing her passion for theatre and musicals with RVDA students and help them reach their full potential.

Alexandra is looking forward to sharing her passion of Musical Comedy, Singing and Theatre with RVDA students and help them reach their full potential. 


Georgia Cooney

Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science. Attained:  Adv 1 level C.I.C.B. and Intermediate Modern Theatre (I.S.T.D.) 

Georgia commenced her dance training at  Shirlene School of Classical Ballet in 2004, studying with Miss Shirley Jones OAM, up until 2020 and is now excited to bring her dance and teaching skills to RVDA.

Georgia has always had a strong interest in ballet and considers it her favourite style of dance, giving her the technical foundation to apply to all dance styles. She has completed the Cechetti grades up to Advanced 1 level with honours.

Georgia has danced many lead roles in ballets including; Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”, Marie Taglioni and Fanny Cerrito’s solos from “Pas De Quarte”, Blanche from “Pineapple Poll” and the Fairy of Passion from “Sleeping Beauty”.

 Georgia has strong interests in other dance genres including Jazz, Contemporary, I.S.T.D. Modern and Hip Hop. She has competed up to an international level in the United States All Star Federation’s (USASF) Dance Worlds competition in Orlando, Florida.

Georgia has completed VCE dance with high study scores. While being a strong dance technician, Georgia believes in instilling a love and passion for dance in younger students and developing artistry alongside technique.

 Georgia has completed her Bachelors degree in Sport and Exercise Science at La Trobe University and will be completing a Master of Physiotherapy Practice in the coming years. With this study she will be able to add more to her technical understanding of the body, physical and mental development while broadening her knowledge to encourage her students to look after their instrument, build strength and other physical skills alongside their dancing. 


Madeline Saxton

Attained Advanced 1 level C.I.C.B.,  Attained Intermediate level Modern Theatre (I.S.T.D).


Madeline has been training in Cecchetti Ballet since the age of 3, as well as Jazz and contemporary since the age of 8. Over the past few years, Madeline has also moved into the world of musical theatre, performing in and choreographing for numerous High School productions and recently joining the Melbourne University Music Theatre Association as a choreographer and 2021 committee member.

 Madeline has been teaching dance since 2019, as well as choreographing for end-of-year recitals and awards evenings at her previous school. Madeline has a great passion for artistry and performance quality, stemming from her work in musical theatre, and encourages all her students to explore these aspects in their dancing.

 After training at the Shirlene School of Ballet for over a decade, Madeline is excited to start a new dance journey at RVDA. She brings with her the knowledge and skills attained under Shirley Jones’ teaching, while also looking to challenge herself as a dancer and teacher in a new environment.


Relieving & Guest Teachers 


Catherine Drake

Catherine was our contemporary dance teacher in the past.  An excellent teacher with a strong work ethic, she brings out the best in all of our students.

Finding a passion for dance from a very young age, Catherine has been training and performing for over 27 years. Having achieved the academic award for all four units in VCE dance, Catherine went on to graduate from full time training at first The Edge Performers School and then The Space full time course. Since then Catherine has performed in independent productions by Vertical Shadows Dance Company and Lion Heart Dance Company, as well as a south-east coast tour of a Rocky Horror Tribute Show as Columbia. Catherine has had the opportunity to train in both LA and European studios by mentors still prominent in her life today and in turn, strives to be a positive role model, teacher and mentor to students at all stages in their dancing journey. 

Elissa Privitelli

Elissa Privitelli

Elissa has been a member of the Academy for over 20 years, completing the higher levels in Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop. Her training has included many  Hip Hop courses for teachers. Elissa has a strong passion for Hip Hop and Jazz, whilst keeping up her training in Classical Ballet.

Elissa has been a scholarship winner as well as an Honors dancer in Modern Theatre. Elissa is one of our strongest Hip Hop and jazz teachers, who loves to encourage students to do the best they can. She is a popular and well loved staff member with courses under her belt in Hip Hop and Angelina Ballerina. 

Amanda Mossuto

Amanda Mossuto

Associate  C.I.C.B. -C.S.B. ,CUA40313 Certificate IV in dance teaching & management, Attained Adv 2 level C.I.C.B. Member C.I.C.B.

 Amanda started taking dancing lessons in 1990 at the Terri-Maree School of Dance in Ballarat. Her family moved to Melbourne at the end of that year and in 1991 she commenced at Riga Victoria Dance Academy, where she has attended lessons ever since. Amanda is a formidable technician in Classical Dance and her ability to instill a solid foundation of Theory and technique in her students is a gift in itself.

Over the years she has taken classes in Ballet, Modern and Jazz. In 2010 she passed her Advanced 2 Classical exam, which signalled the completion of the Major Cecchetti exams.

In 2008 Amanda  passed her Associate exam, becoming a qualified teacher of the Cecchetti method. She focuses on the teaching of the middle grades, building their technique and increasing their theoretical knowledge of ballet.
Amanda is currently take a well earned break from dance as she prepares for her wedding and future plans . we look forward to welcoming her on the occasion to relief teach.



Harleigh-Rose Byrne

Harleigh has been on our teaching staff for 2 years being a popular well-seasoned performer and dancer, she is  in demand for many dance jobs, which keeps her on the road and busy. She graciously accepted to be an interim and cover teacher for our RVDA students. 

I began my dance journey in 2003 with Dance Discovery. I trained in  tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and acrobatics. I completed both my RAD ballet and A.T.O.D Jazz, Tap and Ballet exams . I started training with Kelly Aykers Full Time Dance in 2019 where I received a Certificate IV in Dance. I have had opportunities to perform at multiple events around Melbourne including performing at Santa’s Magical Kingdom, Crown Casino, Skechers Store opening events and VFL Grand Final Eve Luncheons.  I have been a Melbourne Aces and Geelong Korea cheerleader for two seasons with the Australian Baseball League which was an amazing performance experience. In 2020 I was lucky enough to be chosen to be in the ‘Storm Street Crew’ for their performances in the Melbourne Storms NRL season.


Kristin Papadakos

Graduate Kelly Aykers Dance, Bachelor Social Sciences (Social Work) 

Kristin has been a member of the Academy since 2002. She commenced at the Academy together with her older sister and both girls, reached exceptional levels in all examinations. Training under the watchful eye and guidance of Ms Eicens both sisters formed a deep devotion to safe dance practices and wellbeing of the body and mind. Kristin is a passionate young dancer and teacher with over 16 years of training and experience. Kristin has a degree in Youth Work and has a love for working with children. She is one of our favorite  Junior school teachers, with a warm, friendly and caring nature.

She teaches kids classes in multiple styles and has taught at other studios across Melbourne. Kristin has experience in a variety of dance styles and still seeks to further her knowledge.

Kristin is also a recent graduate of the Kelly Aykers full time dance course and undertaking associate studies for Cecchetti Classical.

Vilija Stephens

A.C.B.A. (C.I.C.B.) Dip., Adv 2 (C.I.C.B.), Adv 2 (M.T.D.B.) I.S.T.D

Member Cecchetti International Classical Ballet, Guest Teacher, Choreographer and Cover

Vilija began her training as a young child of 4 with Riga Victoria Dance Academy. She excelled in Ceccehetti Classical Ballet and also, I.S.T.D (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) Modern Theatre and Jazz.  Vilija has danced many lead roles over the years with the most memorable being Odette in Swan Lake. Vilija has been returning as our regular Guest Teacher over the past few years and we love having her whenever she is able to take time away from her daily work commitments. A passionate and caring teacher on all levels,

Emma Varallo

Emma Varallo

Emma  has been with the Riga Victoria Dance Academy since the age of 6 years old.  She is passionate about her dance and specializes in Hip Hop and Jazz. Throughout her years with RVDA,  her love of dance has continued to grow and grow, leading her to take part in school productions. Her love of dance and theatre was the main factor in her decision to study and complete a Bachelor of Entertainment Business Management. Emma is one of our newest members on staff and assists in the Junior school classes.


Senior Level Assisting Students

Students wishing to be more involved to begin learning  the required methods of teaching young dancers may become a  tutored assistant in classes. It is a great way to learn more and increase knowledge by being mentored by the class teacher, while in a class environment.

The teachers assistant takes  instruction from the class teacher on how to help students that may need a

little more guidance in their class environment. 


                                        Octavia Page                   Jacinta Robinson              Genevieve Spiteri               

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