Meet our team

It is with great pride and satisfaction that I present to you DanceWorks, my teachers and students work so hard to maintain the standards expected of a DanceWorks student, in doing so many discover a second family. I have a young daughter myself and feel as if I have another hundred or so more every time I come to work.

"Some people seem to think that good dancers are born, but all the good dancers I have known are taught or trained."- Fred Astaire

Marika Harvey BSpeX, ARAD, RTS RAD

I started dancing locally at the age of 7, in 2000, at the age of 17, I moved to Australia in pursuit of a dancing career to Ecole Ballet Studios gaining more than just dance skills! I have competed all ballet exams to Advanced 2 level in the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus and was able to gain Associate of the RAD by doing so it isa great honour by doing so. While studying in Australia the opportunity was presented to audition for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, this was an amazing journey and I have so many wonderful memories, performing in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic games was very surreal. In Australia I discovered a love of choreography and performance and was encouraged to explore both.
Since returning to New Zealand in 2005, I have taught dance at L Dance Studio in Wellington and Maureen Ax School of Dance here in Palmerston North before opening Platinum Dance in 2009. During this time I completed both a Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies and Bachelor of Sport & Exercise. In only 6 years of teaching there have been many successes including many students going on to full time training, the latest being Emma Martin who is now at the New Zealand School of Dance.
In 2009 I was given the Student City contribution to Dance Award, and this year a 'Globe Award' for best choreography in the musical 'Slice of Saturday Night'.
Dance has taken me around the world and back again, and have had so many performing opportunities. Dance is a life long passion I have evolved from a student to pre professional, professional, to teacher then Studio owner, now I'm transitioning into a dance mum myself its a life style not a job and and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Alaina Sims

Since 2004, Alaina has danced, choreographed, taught, and coached dance and cheer across the United States. In 2007, she received a Bachelor or Arts in dance from Henderson State University in Arkansas (USA) and took the position of dance department director and choreographer at a fine arts charter high school. While in Northwest Arkansas, she also served as a board member and dancer for Arkansas Dance Coalition and dancer/choreographer for the Snowy Range Dance Festival at the University of Wyoming.

In 2010, Alaina moved to Los Angeles to pursue dance and film. As a dancer for contemporary dance companies LA Unbound and Amaterasu Dance Company, Alaina performed at venues around Greater Los Angeles. Her modern choreography was chosen for performance at both Pasadena Dance Festival and MixMatch Dance Festival in Santa Monica. While in Los Angeles, Alaina also served as cheer coach and competition choreographer for two schools in Los Angeles Unified School District. Her 2013 JV squad placed 1st at USA Nationals, and her Varsity squads placed 3rd at USA Nationals and 4th at the UCA West Coast Championships.

Alaina returned to Northwest Arkansas in 2014 and once again took a position as dance director and educator at Arkansas Arts Academy. While there, she directed concerts, taught classes, and choreographed for the high school dance program as well as serving as guest choreographer for the NWA show choir.

Before moving from NWA, Alaina served as Artistic Coordination Director of the Pineapple Tree Contemporary Ballet Company, a non-profit community outreach company, from 2014-2016. She choreographed and performed for the main company and organised and choreographed community outreach programs for the training company.

Commercially, Alaina has choreographed corporate videos for Wal Mart. Her musical theatre credits include Oklahoma, Peter Pan, Grease, and Scrooge. 

Brooke Parsons

Brooke is a professional dancer who has spent the last 10 years performing in the United States, Europe, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Brooke's career begun with Maureen Ax in Palmerston North, from 18 she then crafted her dance career in Australia. Starting her training at The Edge performers school & agency in Melbourne, then later at Patrick Studios Australia.

Her first commercial dance contract was with the reputable cruise company P&O (Australia) as a Singer/Dancer and as a Dancer on Princess Cruises (USA), where she was able to dance and travel the world at the same time. She has worked extensively in the commercial dance scene in Australia including a 15,000-seated Countdown Arena Spectacular, the Hairspray movie premiere and was in the top 100 in Australia's first season of 'So You Think You Can Dance'.

Brooke performed in 'Carnival Choreographers Ball' on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles with SourceDance and also spent six months in Malaysia performing at Resort World Genting's stage spectacular and was promoted to Dance Captain during this contract.

She was the founding Director and Choreographer of a boutique entertainment company in Melbourne, which provided commercial dancers to corporate and large scale events and has worked in a variety of promotional roles throughout Australia. She has had a taste of the film and TV industry, appearing in Home & Away, Neighbours, Sunday Night, Power games, Rake & Wonderland.

Brooke has performed in New Zealand-based musicals including 'Chicago', 'Rocky Horror Picture Show', 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and Australian-based musicals - Jerry Herman's 'Milk & Honey' and in Hugh Jackman's 'The Boy from Oz' at the Rod Laver Arena.

As well as performing, Brooke is an accomplished dance teacher and Director of Ignite Dance Hub. She currently freelances as a dance tutor/ examiner/ adjudicator in the New Zealand dance scene. She has worked with Whitireia, National Youth Drama School, UCOL Performing Arts & DanceNZmade.

Currently Brooke is a teacher at Dance Works Studios, Team Leader for World Class Dance Tours (NZ Open Team) & a social media/ marketing contractor.

Shelley Easton BSC (SpExSci) NZAHND (Hons) Solo Seal

Shelley commenced Highland at age 3. She is a member of the NZ Academy of Highland and National Dancing (NZAHND) with Honours as a qualified teacher and adjudicator. Shelley is a 10-time NZ Highland Dancing Champion from age 14 to 25 and attained Solo Seal at age 21. She has also competed successfully overseas, and performed in many international shows. She completed a Bachelor of Science at Massey University, with a major in Sport and Exercise Science.

Karli Theron Adv Dip in Dance

Advanced 1, Certificate IV in dance, Diploma of dance (Elite Performance), Advanced Diploma of dance (Elite Performance)

At age 3 I started ballet because as my other would say, "she wouldn't stop using my table as a stage. Fell in love with ballet almost straight away and knew from a very young age what I wanted to do. At age 10 started with contemporary and modern dance classes and completed all my AIDT exams ages 16, around the same time I had completed all RAD exams including intermediate old and new syllabus, adv. 1 old and new syllabus. During these years I had competed in multiple competitions including three years competing at the South African National Championships for performing art, receiving 1 Bronze, 4 Silver and 6 Gold medals for both solo and group pieces. I had told my mother at the age of 14 I was going to chase my dreams and move countries to do so. I auditioned internationally and got excepted into 4 of the five places I auditioned, and after great thought and research, I chose The National Theatre Ballet School in Melbourne Australia for multiple reasons but mostly the performance experience and the actual studio time. I started full-time ballet training at The National Theatre Ballet School in 2016 and performed in amazing production by incredible choreographers such as Matthew Thompson, Beverly Jane Fry, Alicia Frias Jackson, Mellony Stephenson, Claire Campbell, Christopher Wheeldon and Damian Smith. I've performed in ballet such as Coppelia, Les Patineurs, Pied Piper, a Deconstruction in Three Parts(flamenco), From the Ashes(flamenco), An Unkindness of Ravens (contemporary), Graduation Ball, Within the Golden Hour (neo-Classical by Christopher Wheeldon) Composition in White (classical), Don Quixote, Pure Reaction(contemporary), Paquita and The Nutcracker. Now graduated with both Diploma and Adv Diploma. If anyone was to ask me what I'd like to give to other young dancers starting out, I'd simply say "it doesn't matter where you come from or what your situation is, you can chase your dreams and you can become them, I'm a small town South African girl who had big dreams, if I could so can you."

Rachel Bothwell

I grew up around dance, my mother is a dancer and teacher and she instilled a love of dance from an early age. I did most of my growing up in Auckland and began dancing and performing in front of audiences at the age of three. At eight I started ballet lessons in the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus [RAD] and continued my classical ballet training up to Advanced Two. While continuing my own dance training I began assisting teaching at fifteen, taking classes alongside my mother (and mentor). I enjoyed having the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion for dance with others and realised then my love of teaching. I decided to continue to study dance further at universitywhere I gained valuable knowledge and skills while training under some leading New Zealand dance professionals. After completing a Certificate in Sport and Recreation,

I studied towards a Bachelor of Dance for two years. In 2012 I relocated to Palmerston North and began teaching ballet and contemporary dance at a local dance school before becoming a part of the DanceWorks family in 2014. It is an immense privilege to teach the junior ballet students at DanceWorks and to pass on my love and appreciation of dance to a new generation of aspiring young dancers! When I am not teaching I am spending every spare minute with my daughter, Mikaiah, who is also growing up surrounded and inspired by dance!

Hannah Hawley

Hannah began Ballet with Danceworks in 2003, adding Jazz and Hip-Hop in from 2008. She thoroughly enjoys the structure Ballet has to offer, as well as the creativity of Jazz and the ever-evolving style of Hip-Hop. Hannah has completed exams in both Ballet and Jazz each year, attaining RAD Ballet Grade Six and NZAMD Jazz Grade Five in 2012. The backstage work for the end of year show quickly became something Hannah loved, particularly the sewing of costumes and making of props, becoming more and more involved as she got older. Finding Archery in 2010, she began competing in 2011, leading her to a choice between her two passions. In 2014, Archery became her sole focus, and she was shortlisted for the Youth Olympic Games, held in Nanjing China.

Hannah began working at Danceworks in 2016, taking on the Shop and the costuming for the show. In 2017 she will be continuing with administration work for the studio, as well as studying at Massey University towards a Bachelor of Science. She continues to compete in Archery at an International level and is looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Steph O'Connor

Louise Baker RTS (RAD)

Dip in Commercial Dance -Whitireia Performing Arts Centre

Louise Baker completed a Diploma in Commercial dance at the Wellington Performing Arts Centre (now Whitireia) in 2010 receiving the first year scholarship for the most promising student. During her time at WPAC she performed in the Wellington Musical Theatre production Gleevent as a solo dancer and was a Hurricanes cheerleader. Louise became interested in Hip Hop dance when she was accepted into Wellington's Infinite Dance Crew and went on to travel internationally with them, receiving 4th Place in the FISAF world championships. After a busy few years in Wellington teaching for Pump Dance and Step Out Dance Co, Louise moved to Melbourne where she performed in Kim Adam's contemporary piece at underground dance and auditioned successfully for a dance contract which took her to the Dominican Republic. Louise returned home to teach for 8 months before setting off for London to travel, dance and teach. During her 2 years there she taught at a dance school in Notting Hill, became a London Cheerleader and continued to take classes at the famous Pineapple Dance and Studio 68. In 2014 Louise attended Urban Dance Camp in Germany where she was able to learn from some of the best Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop tutors in the world. Louise is very passionate about choreography and teaching and recently received her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies through the Royal Academy of Dance.

Grace Berge


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