Dramatic Dance

MEET THE TEAM

Dena Ross 

Studio Director

BHSc (nutrition & exercise), Cert IV Performing Arts

Dena commenced her training at just three years old at the Robyn Kirkland School of Ballet. She has trained in all styles of dance but with a particular focus on technique and classical dance. Dena then moved on to train at RGDANCE in her teen years and completed her full-time dance training at Brent Street in 2013.

Dena has a wealth of experience she brings to her students. She has completed all RAD ballet examination up to Advanced 1, in high school she finished dance and drama with both band 6’s and her HSC dance performances nominated for callback, making the top 10 percent in the state. Professional dance highlights include being part of the British Ballet Organisation Scholars Program, BBO Scholarship Winner, Bangkok City Ballet intensive, several TV performances including Home and Away, Dance Academy and performing as a dancer in The Voice and Timomatic's music clip. Other performance experiences include; the Sydney Kings Games, Beyonce Pepsi Max Tribute, Bloch, Ballet Emporium, Sydney Vivid Festival, Carols in the Domain, Marquee and the Ivy. Internationally, Dena has travelled to the USA and underwent training at multiple renowned studios such as Millennium Dance Complex, Broadway Dance Centre, Pulse on Tour and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. In 2018, Dena performed in Turkey for 5 months, dancing at one of the best clubs and hotels in the Mediterranean "Hillside Beach Club".  There she was able to work with choreographers from Italy, Israel and Canada and dance with professional performers from all over the world.

Dena has always had a joy for teaching and is devoted to safe dance practice and promoting physical and mental health. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Health Science (nutrition & exercise) as well as her Studio & Rehab Pilates Certification with Polestar Australia. Dena also works as the off-ice Movement Specialist and dance coach for the Australian Synchronised Figure Skating Team. She is passionate about mentoring and passing on her knowledge to her students and watching them take pride in their accomplishments. 

Monica Whittingham

Adv Dip. Performing Arts (Dance)

Monica Whittingham was born in Sydney, Australia. Her professional training took place at Halliday Dance Centre and in Perth at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where she studied an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance).

 

In 2001 Monica moved back to Sydney where she taught and choreographed for DanceMax and also choreographed for the International Poets Convention. The next year Monica performed in the contemporary season of Bodies for Australian choreographer Deborah Mills. Monica moved to London in 2002 where she spent eight years performing in a variety of touring companies including Vienna Festival Ballet, Ballet Ireland and project based contemporary companies Anya Ison Wallace Dancers and Diciembre Dance Group. During this time Monica performed soloist roles in Swan Lake, Coppelia,The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty as well as new contemporary works. Monica also performed in four consecutive UK and Ireland tours of Raymond Gubbay's The Johann Strauss Gala, directed and choreographed by Chris Hampson. Monica taught ballet for leading ballet West London School of Dance, founded by renown teacher Anna Du Boisson, for the last 14 years, and during that time has also taught for Du Boisson’s Young Dancers Academy, the vocational training program. In 2010 Monica joined the production team, first as Ballet Mistress and then as Rehearsal Director, working on the school’s annual production of The Nutcracker on London’s West End as well as many other shows and Galas performed by the school.

 

Monica moved back to Sydney with her husband and two daughters on late 2019 and is looking forward to teaching once again.

Alex Pirrello

Cert. Acrobatic Arts Teaching

Alex started dancing at the age of 4 and has trained in Jazz, Lyrical/ Contemporary, Cecchetti Method Ballet, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre and Acrobatics.  

 

Alex completed her teaching training in acrobatics with Acrobatic Arts in 2019 and is a fully Certified Acrobatic Arts teacher. She completed the majority of her dance training at the prestigious Denise Utz School of Dance where she was successful in dancing at a competitive level in their elite performance teams and as a soloist. She also played the roll of Bert in their 2017 production of Mary Poppins.

 

She finished HSC dance in 2018, expanding her attentiveness to safe dance practice and her performance/ composition capabilities. Alex has always been a passionate teacher and started assistant dance teaching throughout high school, which helped develop her teaching finesse and experience before taking classes of her own. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Human Sciences with a major in Human Movement at Macquarie University, which will be followed by a Master of Physiotherapy.

 

Alex joined her university dance team in 2019 and competes in Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Pom. Whilst being on this team they claimed an AASCF National Champion title and she is now on the team’s executive committee. With her nurturing personality, Alex aims to build confidence within her students and bring out the best in every dancer. She is determined to share her passion for dance and love for teaching at RDC.

Vivienne Lee

Cert. Acrobatic Arts Teaching

 

Vivienne Lee is an professional classical and contemporary dancer renown for her strong technical and artistic background.

 

Vivienne began training in the Cecchetti Ballet method where she has undertaken several prestigious ballet exams located at the Sydney Dance Company and Chatswood Concourse Theatre. She has always been a dedicated student, receiving honours with distinction, the highest mark possible. Vivienne has competed in The Cecchetti Medal Competitions and was also a part of the Global Cecchetti Conference with dancers and teachers from all over the world. Vivienne has also performed as a soloist and troupe dancer competing in several eisteddfods and placing highly across NSW. Throughout her time in high school, Vivienne studied dance as a part of her HSC. She was nominated for callback from the NSW Department of Education which placed her in the top 10 percent in the state. 

 

Over the years she Vivienne has also gained a strong background in Jazz, Hip Hop and Acrobatics. Vivienne is a qualified Acrobatics teacher, gaining her certification with Acrobatic Arts in 2019.  She has trained with the ‘The House of Sole Sydney’ and took part in Sela Vai’s ‘Youthereforeshe’ artistic development program where they performed  the show “Reclaim” at PACT Theatre.

Vivienne has been fortunate to be taught by many outstanding teachers and role models who have passed on their knowledge and passion and  cannot wait to bring her energy, knowledge and experience to Ross Dance Centre.

Alyssa Akiki

RAD Ballet Teacher, RAD RTS

Alyssa is a fully Qualified and Registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance. Since starting dancing at the age of 4 she has been taught by some of Australia’s top teachers, including Kay Smith (ex ballerina with the Royal Ballet Company London), PJ Clarke, Peter Oxford and Ame Delves. She has completed all ballet exams up to Advanced 2. She has studied Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Pilates, Spanish, Broadway Jazz, Musical Theatre and Singing.

Alyssa has competed in Ballet Scholarships including S.O.D.A and the Isobel Anderson Awards, and the City of Sydney Eisteddfod. At the age of 12, she successfully auditioned to be a part of Jason Coleman's Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Arrivals dance section. In 2001 at just 14 years of age, she auditioned and was selected to dance in John O Connells (worldwide renowned choreographer of Moulin Rouge, Strictly Ballroom etc) Moulin Rouge Finale of the 2001 Australian Dance Awards. At only 14 she was dancing alongside professional dancers from the movie. She has also performed at The Australian Cricket Teams Annual Gala Dinner, the Cystic Fibrosis Ball and has performed and modelLed for BLOCH dance wear at Dance Expo.

Alyssa completed her HSC dance with high marks, and was continually chosen to perform at school events.
In 2006 after finishing school, Alyssa completed a 1year full time Vocational Ballet course at Ecole Ballet Studios. Here she was taught by some of the world’s most highly regarded Ballet teachers, including Ashley Killar, Jane Allyn and Kit Lethby.  Here she studied not only RAD but also Cecchitti, Pas de deux, Contemporary, History of Ballet, Drama just to name a few. She also performed in their full length ballet Coppelia in various roles.
Alyssa has also worked for BLOCH and has been a crew member of the Showcase National Dance Championships.

 

With over 10 years of teaching experience, Alyssa has choreographed many award winning solo and troupe routines. Her students continue to achieve excellent exam results. Past students of Alyssa have gone onto dance professionally both in Australia and overseas.Alyssa has studied many styles of dance but Ballet has always been her passion. In 2006 she was accepted into the RADs Certificate in Ballet Teachers Course, which she graduated with in 2007. She regularly attends courses and seminars run by the RAD. Alyssa has also recently been asked to be a mentor for the RADs Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies, to guide and train future teachers.

Bilal Rafiki

Bachelor of Nursing

Bilal is passionate about hip hop and choreography, and specialises in freestyle movement. His training started from watching YouTube dancers and being inspired by the likes of Michael Jackson and Chris Brown. He has now trained with some of Australia’s best Hip hop crews such as Alpha Pack and the Australia’s got Talent finalists, Kookies N Kream. He has also represented NSW in Hip Hop Australia’s National championship.

A highlight of Bilal's professional dance journey was achieving runner up in Channel 7’s “DanceBoss” series 1. During the course of the show, he was able to work with some of Australia’s leading dancers and choreographers, including the infamous Square Division. Now, Bilal has been working on choreographing advertisements for clothing companies and short Dance Art Projects. He mixes freestyle with choreography to create the right energy to properly highlight the product.

Not only an accomplished dancer, Bilal also works as an emergency nurse at Westmead hospital. With his medical knowledge and passion for dance, he is able to guide his students to become the best dancer they can be. 

 

Bilal continues to want to grow through learning and absorbing from classes and life experiences.

Guest Teachers