Passionate and experienced dance teachers
Besides being qualified and experienced teachers and performers, all our staff hold first-aid certificates, Working With Children checks and insurance. We are passionate about our art-form and aim to inspire and encourage our students in every lesson. Besides our core team, we have regular special guests, who have danced with The Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and prestigious international dance companies. All our staff are not only experienced and passionate teachers, but have gone on to careers as professional dancers and performers. Read all about our teachers here.
RAIN FRANCIS, Director
NZ-born, Rain trained at Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and the NZ School of Dance. She is active in the Australian dance scene as a performer, creator, teacher, film-maker and writer. Rain has worked in the USA, UK, Australia, NZ and Ireland; she performed with the National Ballet of Ireland from 2005 to 2009, dancing many classical and contemporary roles and creating new works on the company. She now dances with Opera Australia, has won several awards for her choreography, and is a regular guest tutor and choreographer in NZ. Since 2016 Rain is also the Director of International Ballet Workshops.
Miss Rain's qualifications include:
* Diploma of Dance Teaching & Management (ATOD)
* Diploma of Dance Performance (NZSD)
* 15+ years international experience as a performer, choreographer and teacher
* Royal Academy of Dance up to and including Advanced
* Working With Children Check
* Police Check
* Level 2 First Aid & CPR
RACHAEL McGOWAN, Ballet
RAD Examiner, BA (Hons) Ballet Education, RAD RTS, LRAD (1&2), Cert IV Pilates (PAA)
Originally from England, Rachael graduated from the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Ballet Education degree program and the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance at the Academy’s headquarters in London, England. Whilst studying here, Rachael had the opportunity to work as an assistant alongside world-renowned Royal Academy of Dance Examiners and Teachers as part of the Dance School. Rachael has gone on to teach throughout the UK, Canada, America and now Australia, successfully preparing hundreds of students, both children and adults, for RAD examinations as well as training dancers for full time vocational schools, youth companies and associate programs. Rachael specialises in teaching the vocational levels and teaching adults.
Choreography, especially for large events, makes up a significant part of Rachael’s work and she has had the privilege of working with a live orchestra for both the 2011 and 2012 Proms in the Meadow. Rachael has also choreographed for festivals and eisteddfods, charity events and more recently full length classical productions as Ballet Mistress for a Canadian youth company.
Having sustained a serious injury, Rachael has since developed a passion for Dance Science and now also teaches practical based Anatomy and Physiology classes to her students. Rachael is a qualified Mat and Reformer Pilates instructor as well as a qualified teacher of the Progressing Ballet Technique program. Rachael regularly attends courses with Lisa Howell, The Australian Ballet and IADMS, strongly believing that as teachers, our responsibility is to prepare dancers not just for the current season but for a life time of dance. Rachael has been a member of the RAD Victorian Tasmanian panel since 2015. In June 2018 Rachael was appointed to the Panel of RAD Examiners, examining throughout Australia and internationally.
NICOLE MELLOY, Musical Theatre, Jazz, Broadway
Nicole has had an extensive performing career throughout Australia and internationally. Most recently she appeared in the lead role of Mary in Merrily We Roll Along with Watch This Productions. Prior to this she played Bonnie in Hurlyburly (Q44 Theatre) and Riss in Dusty (The Production Company) in which she was also understudy to Dusty Springfield. Nicole also appeared as the lead role of Sam in the world premier of Sexercise the Musical at the new Alex Theatre, as Alice B. Toklas in Loving Repeating (Vic Theatre Company), Sarah in Company, (Watch This Productions) Ellie May in Showboat (The Production Company), Magenta in the international tour of The Rocky Horror Show (Tim Lawson Productions), Lauren in First Date (Pursued By Bear) Austin in Sister Cities (Q44 Theatre), as well as the title role in Q44 Theatre Company’s inaugural season of the play Dolores.
Screen credits include Grace in Dr Blake’s Murder Mysteries, Natalie Schuman in Winners and Losers, Millicent in Trip For Biscuits, the role of Bridget in the Australian film Rue, and Danielle in the short film Winning.
Nicole has also performed with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, has sung for numerous major corporate events around Australia and performs regularly in her self managed acoustic duo, Kurby and Cole. Nicole holds a Diploma of Classical Dance, has studied dance at the Victorian College of the Arts and more recently has trained in Acting at the Q44 studio where she is a company member.
Nicole is a sought after teacher of all ages and styles throughout Victoria. She has been teaching for over 15 years at a range of performing arts schools including The Space, The Edge and Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Nicole is excited to be joining Rain & Lucky Academy of Dance in 2018.
Miss Nicole's qualifications
* 15+ years experience as a performer and teacher
* Diploma of Classical Dance
* Certificate IV in Training & Assessment
* Working with Children Check
BRETT SIMON, Ballet
Born in Adelaide, Brett began dancing at an early age at the Sheila Laing Dance Centre and completed his training at The Australian Ballet School in 2003. His professional career began at West Australian Ballet, where he received a Helpmann Award nomination for his portrayal of Valmont in Simon Dow’s Dangerous Liaisons. In 2006 Brett appeared as a guest artist with Hong Kong Ballet, where he returned in 2007 as a soloist. During his time there, Brett danced principal roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Coppélia as well as Romeo in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet. Brett has most recently been a soloist with The Australian Ballet and while there performed principal and featured roles throughout the company’s repertoire. Recent highlights include Danilo in The Merry Widow, the White Rabbit in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©, Alice Topp’s Little Atlas and the roles of Diaghilev and Petruschka in John Neumeier’s Nijinsky.
Brett has taught a variety of age ranges for programs provided by each of the companies he has worked with and has been part of their education tours traveling across regional Australia.
Brett's qualifications include:
* 14+ years international experience as a performer and guest teacher
* Advanced Diploma in Dance
* Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
NIKKI GIBSON, Drama
Nikki Gibson has appeared in thirteen short films and three web series, along with roles in TV shows and television commercials. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Drama which she attended both at The University of Queensland and LaTrobe University. Nikki has also studied extensively at multiple schools including Victorian College of the Arts, 16th St Actors Studio, The Performing Arts Conservatory (Qld.) & The Melbourne Actors Lab (among others). Nikki has worked with students in both primary and secondary school settings, delivering Drama Workshops and coaching students for school performances. She also teaches after school drama classes and school holiday drama camps run by Kids Up Front Drama Academy. Nikki is very excited to start working with the Rain and Lucky team in 2019.
ELISE DRINKWATER, Jazz & Contemporary
Elise graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Dance. During this time Elise received the Friends of VCA, Beleura John Tallis Award for Excellence in 2009 and 2011. Since graduating Elise has performed both in Australia and abroad for Opera Australia, 2nd Toe
Dance Collective, Shelley Lascia and Schall & Schnabel (GER). Elise has been teaching dance for over 10 years and is also a certified mat Pilates instructor. Elise loves to share her passion for movement with her students and her classes encourage individuality and artistic expression.
Miss Elise's qualifications include:
* Bachelor of Dance, University of Melbourne
* Certificate IV Mat Pilates
* Royal Academy of Dancing Advanced 2
* Level 2 First Aid and CPR
* Working with Children Check
* 10+ years international experience as a performer and teacher
LAURA TREVOR, Ballet & Tap
Born in Cairns, Laura trained at Mulgrave Valley Dance Academy under principal Kathy Harris. At the age of 15, Laura was invited to study on scholarship at the Sheila Laing Dance Centre in Adelaide, where she was awarded the Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal. Following this, Laura was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition held in Sydney. Continuing her full time dance training at West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, she gained exposure to the Russian method of ballet and graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Dance. Laura danced principal roles with Tasmanian Classical Ballet Company in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and toured internationally with Event Theatre Australia. Back in Australia, Laura danced with Leigh Warren & Dancers and West Australian Ballet. A founding member of Mod Dance Company, Laura performed in Graeme Murphy’s Suite Synergy and was featured in the Australian film – Beautiful. Most recently, Laura has been dancing with Opera Australia in many of their renowned productions, and has been sharing her love of movement as a dance instructor for the young through to the young at heart!
Miss Laura's qualifications include:
* Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts - Dance (WAAPA)
* 10 + years international experience as a performer and teacher
* RAD Ballet - Solo Seal
* ISTD Modern (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing)
* ISTD Tap
* Stott Pilates - Matwork
* Working With Children Check
* First Aid Level 2
CHIMENE STEELE-PRIOR, Contemporary
Chimene is a Melbourne based performer, teacher and choreographer. She studied at the New Zealand School of Dance and at WAAPA as a member of LINK Dance Company. Chimene has worked with artists including Nat Cursio Co/Restless sleepers (UK), Sheridan Lang, Shaun McLeod, Shian Law, Melissa Jones, Rob McCredie and Geoffrey Watson. She has worked extensively with Opera Australia since 2011 on productions including Macbeth, Turandot, Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto, The Ring Cycle and La Boheme; as well as touring productions Faust (Choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan) and The Merry Widow (Directed/Choreographed by Graham Murphy). Most recently Chimene worked with Lauren Langlois during the first development of Twenty Forty Six (Tanja Liedtke Fellowship) and Omer Backley-Astrachan on Wildebeest/The Venus Fly Trap (Riverside Theatres Parramatta). Later this year Chimene will tour to China with Opera Australia to perform in their production of Madame Butterfly.
Her work has been supported by Melbourne City Council and Banyule City Council. She has been awarded choreographic residencies through Dancehouse, Dirty Feet, Liquid Skin Studio and Window 99 and been the recipient of an Ian Potter Cultural Trust grant for the development of her choreographic practice through the ATLAS program located within Impuls Tanz Dance Festival. Her solo work IN FORMATION II was nominated for a Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation in 2015. In 2013 she was the Inaugural Choreographic Secondment Recipient at Chunky Move under the Direction of Anouk Van Dijk.
In 2016, Chimene became a certified Countertechnique Teacher.
Miss Chimene's qualifications include:
Bachelor Performing Arts (DANCE) - WAAPA
Diploma of Dance Performance - NZSD
Certified Countertechnique Teacher
STOTT Pilates trained Matwork Instructor
Working With Children Check
Current First Aid Certificate
YUKO SAITO - Ballet
Born in Japan, Yuko graduated at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School prior to being offered a Scholarship at the University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts where she successfully completed her Bachelor Degree. Yuko has completed the Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 (Distinction), attained her Solo Seal and competed in the Genee International Competition in Sydney. Yuko’s dedication, skill and experience has been honoured in the past with exciting invitations to join the Sydney Dance Company and Ventura Dance Company, Zurich. Other significant experience has been acquired via:
Selected dance classes/tuition throughout Europe and USA (most notably Bejart Ballet Lausanne - Swiss Ballet Company, Switzerland).
Co-launched “Dance Revolution Company” in Japan (Manager/Choreographer/Performer/Teacher).
Accumulated teaching experience of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in excess of 15 years.
Performed "Giselle" with the Victorian State Ballet in 2015.
Teaching for T and Y Ballet Academy Australian School.
Miss Yuko’s qualifications include:
Bachelor of Dance, University of Melbourne
15+ years international experience as a Performer/Choreographer/Teacher
RAD Ballet - Solo Seal
Current Working With Children Check
Current Police Check
Current First Aid Level 2
LOUKIA VASSILIADES, Drama
Loukia Vassiliades feels at home performing and in recent years sharing her passion and experience with young people. She holds a Bachelor of Arts - Drama and Advanced Diploma of Alexander Technique Teaching. In the past she has facilitated workshops for ArtPlay Victoria, visited The Drama School as a specialist teacher and taught home school families. She is currently devising new workshops for the 2020 ArtPlay program, teaching at The Drama School and is super excited to join the Rain and Lucky team.