Ms Jenny Young
RAD RTS RAD Life member
RAD Grades and Majors
Jenny Young began her teaching career in Dalby in 1974, encouraged by her mentor Mrs Ailsa Hunter, a founding member of QDSE in Brisbane. She continued as principal of the Dalby School until 1985 during which time she also opened a studio in Toowoomba (The Young School of Ballet). Upon retiring in 1995, she was invited to guest teach for studios in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Longreach.
Mrs Young has been awarded a life membership of the Royal Academy of Dance in recognition of her 50+ year association with the RAD as a student and teacher.
Prior to Dance Central’s opening in 2001, Mrs Young and Miss Vallette conducted a ballet coaching studio in Toowoomba. Mrs Young loves her teaching and takes great pleasure and pride in encouraging students to follow their dancing dreams. Dance Central is privileged to have a teacher of Jenny Young’s calibre on their faculty, who is able to pass on a wealth of knowledge and love of dance to our students.
Ms Jen Murray
Cert IV in Dance Teaching and Management
Jen Murray is a dance artist, teacher, choreographer and producer originally from Calgary, Canada. After attending the National Ballet School in Toronto at the age of 13, Jen returned to Calgary and apprenticed with the Alberta Ballet Company while still in high school. She then shifted her focus to contemporary dance and attended the 3 year professional training program at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre as a scholarship student. Upon graduation Jen moved to Vancouver where she worked with a wide array of contemporary dance companies, touring across Canada and into the United States. Jen also undertook a yoga teacher training program, and has been a certiﬁed yoga teacher for 12 years. She integrates yoga, martial arts, ballet, and a myriad of contemporary dance styles into her work in the classroom and for the stage.
Jen moved permanently to Australia in 2006 and settled in Toowoomba in 2008. Since that time she has taught at the Conroy Dance Centre / Performing Arts College in Brisbane, and has had her choreography commissioned by dance studios in Rockhampton and Byron Bay.
Jen has been involved with several local dance/ theatre productions through the Home Grown Independents program at the Empire Theatre. In 2012 she choreographed ‘Vacancies of the Heart’, a 20 minute dance/ ﬁlm work that was part of the critically acclaimed show ‘Landscapes’ presented by Velocity Dance. This was followed by ‘Brief Encounters’ in 2013, a hybrid arts performance experiment for which she acted as producer and curator. In 2016 Jen collaborated with ex-Dance Central student Jacob Watton and ﬁlmmaker Bec Stanley on the dance ﬁlm ‘Loops’, included in the inaugural Motion Capture Film Festival presented by Kirsty Lee. In December 2017 Jen will produce and perform in ‘Triptik’, an exciting triple-bill of Jacob Watton’s choreography featuring emerging professional dancers and Dance Central senior students.
In January 2017 Jen presented a contemporary dance intensive for Toowoomba students called ‘Pushing Boundaries’, featuring professional dance artists/ teachers from Brisbane and Melbourne.
Jen also teaches and enters select students for examination in the Jason Winters Contemporary Dance Syllabus, offered exclusively by the CSTD. She has achieved Levels 1 – 4 with Honours Plus and is currently preparing for her Level 5 solo public performance exam in October.
Ms Benita Whalley
Born in Townsville North Queensland, Benita commenced dancing at 4 years of age and trained in classical ballet, highland dancing, character, tap and jazz. Benita sat for all of the RAD examinations, participated in most of the North Queensland Eisteddfoddau and at the age of 15 became the Queensland Intermediate Highland Champion.
At 17, Benita joined the Perth City Ballet Company touring Western Australia before joining the West Australian Ballet Company. During her five years with this company, Benita worked her way up to Principal roles and performed at the Sydney Opera House.
Benita then joined an American Touring Company performing in “The Flintstones” touring around Asia for 6 months before returning to join the Queensland Ballet Company. She was quickly promoted to a Featured Artist in the Company and enjoyed dancing many principal roles and working again with some of Australia’s great choreographers.
Due to a spinal injury Benita stopped dancing and began teaching while undergoing medical treatment and after some years returned to the stage to dance charter roles, coach and assist with rehearsals with the Queensland Ballet until 1997. Benita has been teaching for the Queensland Dance School of Excellence for the past 26 years as well as freelance teaching around Australia and New Zealand.
Benita was formerly a Vocational Graded Examiner with the Royal Academy of Dance and travelled Australia and the world examining dance students. Now living in Toowoomba, Benita works with small Elite groups of students who enjoy Classical Ballet and want to pursue a career in this field. Benita continues to freelance in teaching, choreography, reproducing ballets and cleaning technique around Australia and Asia.
Miss Kerri Hodgson
RAD RTS, Dip Fitness (Fitness Specialist)
Classical Ballet teacher
Kerri developed her love of dance under the enthusiastic instruction of Mrs Young. A love of fitness and movement led to Kerri’s extensive experience as a Fitness and Pilates Instructor. Her continued love of dance motivated Kerri to join Dance Central in 2004. After a few years of immersion in the RAD curriculum, Kerri undertook training towards a RAD Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies completed in 2010. Since joining the teaching staff at Dance Central, Kerri has been able to combine her skills as a class teacher, with a long term love of ballet, to develop new generations of classical ballet students. Kerri has the following fabulous qualifications!
- Certificate III in Fitness
- Certificate IV in Fitness – Personal Trainer
- Level Three Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia includes: Gym Instructor, Aqua Instructor, Group Exercise Freestyle, Personal Trainer and Specialised Trainer
- Pilates Institute of Queensland Matwork Certificates : Core Module, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Matwork.
- Pilates Institute of Queensland Equipment (Clinical) Pilates Certificates : Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Equipment Pilates.
Ms Rebecca Phillips
Hip Hop SFD Jazz RSD & RSMWM and Velocity Company Director
Bec developed her love of dance from the young age of 4 when she started classes at a local studio. She was one of Dance Central’s first students in 2002 and developed her passion for teaching after assisting in junior classes. She completed her level 10 jazz exam in 2009 and went on to gain her Southern Federation of Dance Jazz Teaching Certificate in 2010. She has been teaching at the studio since 2009 in the genres of jazz and hip hop. Bec has been our company mistress since 2013 and a member of our performance company Velocity since its beginning back in 2002. She has performed and led the group at a number of charity performances, corporate and community events. Bec has also choreographed a number of routines for both our junior and senior company for eisteddfods and has had a number of successes. In 2016 she completed her studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology from the University of Southern Queensland.
Miss Elissa Finlay
A.R.A.D RAD RTS Solo Seal Dip Dance Cert IV in Pilates (matwork)
RAD Classical Ballet
Elissa began ballet in Sydney at age 7 with Aina Reega and then Prudence Bowen , achieving Advanced and Solo Seal at 15. She then competed at the Genee Competion and the Prix de Lausanne before joining the Australian Ballet School for 3 years after which she joined the Australian Opera Ballet and completed my Diploma of teaching with the RAD ( Dist.)
Elissa has taught RAD Ballet in Sydney, Brisbane , Gold Coast, Stanthorpe , Armidale, Moree and Toowoomba and teaches from Preschool through to adult ballet.
Elissa is currently enrolled on the Royal Academy of Dance Examiner’s training program.
“I feel it is a privilege to teach at such an amazing school as Dance Central, with such great staff and exceptional facilities.”
Miss Lucinda Panitz
MSFD (Jazz) RAD CBTS currently studying Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
SFD Jazz, Tap, RSD, Preschool Ballet, Repetoire and Junior Contemporary
Lucy developed a love of dance from the young age of 3 when she was one of Dance Central’s first students back in 2002. She has been teaching at the studio since 2014 in the genres of Jazz, Tap, Contemporary and Preschool Ballet. After completing her Southern Federation of Dance Jazz Teaching Certificate in 2016 Lucy is now working towards her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies with the Royal Academy of Dance. Over the past few years she has worked with Rangeville State School and Centenary Heights State High School and recently The Glennie School choreographing performances and musicals. Lucy is currently studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education majoring in Mathematics and Special Education.
Acrobatics, Junior tap, SFD Jazz
Kayli began dancing at the age of 3 at the Bollard School of Dance in Sydney under the guidance of Margaret and Belinda Kirkness. She completed examinations to Advanced level in ballet tap and Jazz under the Australian Teachers of Dancing Syllabus. Kayli competed at state and interstate level in the ATOD Scholarships winning a number of awards including a bursary to further her tertiary training.
Kayli moved to the McDonald College in 2008 to expand her passion for Classical Ballet. She later began full time ballet training at the Australian International Ballet Academy under the guidance of Alan Cross and Josephine Jason. Kayli performed with the Premier State Ballet Company in many roles including pas de Deux and soloist roles. During this time Kayli completed her vocational RAD exams to Advanced level.
In 2011 Kayli was accepted into full-time professional ballet training with the Queensland Ballet Company. During this time, she contracted with the company in productions such as the Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Kayli was fortunate enough to work with both the previous director, Francisco Klaus and the current director Li Cunxin during her time with Queensland Ballet.
Kayli has had over 8 years of teaching experience in both NSW and QLD with the ATOD examination Syllabus, choreographing for soloists and performance teams and is dedicated to passing on her passion to her students. During her time teaching in Sydney she has coached students through the Royal Academy of Dance examination syllabus and also directed her own youth company where young dancers performed in full length classical ballets.
Kayli holds a Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management, a current blue card/WWCC and first aid certificate. She also has a love of nutrition and Pilates and has obtained an Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine and certificates in Matwork, Reformer and Barre Pilates.
Jackson began dancing from the age of 3, specialising in Jazz, Tap and Musical Theatre. Since then, he has had over 10 years of dance training and experience from multiple studios across South-East Queensland. He has also performed in numerous shows in Toowoomba and Brisbane including QPAC’s ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ in 2013, Empire Theatre’s ‘Mamma Mia!’ in 2020 where he was also Dance Captain, and most recently, Empire Theatre’s ‘We Will Rock You’ in 2022. He currently works as a performer and choreographer, most recently having choreographed ‘School of Rock’ with the Toowoomba Choral Society in 2022. He is also a founding member of Crescendo Theatre Company, a group of young local creatives that have held successful productions of ‘Be More Chill’ and ‘Urinetown: The Musical’.
Hip Hop and Commercial Dance
Lizzie Stanfield Flores
Lizzy Stanfield Flores is an emerging theatre facilitator based in Toowoomba. She is currently studying the Bachelor of Creative Arts and Community Wellbeing at UniSQ to pursue her passion for theatre as a tool for empowerment, joy, and fun. She has experience writing, acting, directing, and facilitating both theatre and film projects and is excited to bring her experience to Dance Central.
Ava Gleeson – RSD Silver Teacher
Madeline Rohde – RSD Silver Teacher
Studying Cert IV in dance teaching and management
Isabella Mundell RSD Silver Teacher
Studying Cert IV in dance teaching and management