Michelle began her dancing at the age of 4 and has been ever since.
In 1993 Michelle completed the RAD Teaching Diploma under the guidance of Patricia and Valma Saill and Valma Briggs-gaining a Distinction. Michelle's teaching career started when she was 18 under the guidance of her childhood Ballet Teacher, Priscilla Kurtz.Starting out in Classical Ballet and Jazz-then expanding into Contemporary which is where her passion for Choreography began. Another area of great interest to Michelle is the field of Dance Medicine, she has been an active member of IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine & Science) since 2004, and regularly attends their Conferences, keeping her up to date with the latest advances in the world of Dance Medicine.
Over her teaching career Michelle has been fortunate enough to work at several prominent Sydney studios such as: Saill Academy of Dancing, Deidre Bronner School of Ballet, Wendy Gibbs School of Ballet, Illawong Dance Studios, and Academy Ballet with Nicholina Kuner. She is highly committed to her dancers adopting a 'tough' but 'fair' attitude towards their training. Constantly searching for new opportunities and contacts for her Company members.
In 2005 Michelle organized an independent study tour of prominent schools and companies throughout Europe.
This is where she met her now good friend-Maurice Causey at the Netherlands Dance Theatre Studios where he was Ballet Master at the time. Maurice came to Australia later that year and gave an exclusive workshop to Michelle's students, which they still describe as 'amazing' to this day!
She has wanted to start her own 'Junior Company' for 15 years, and is both proud and excited to finally see her dream come to life through the Austinmer Dance Theatre!
director's assistant - RHIANNON DAVIES
Rhiannon has been an active member of the company since its inception in 2011 and has previously undertaken some of the company's administrative roles whilst performing with the company. This is her first official year as Director's Assistant since her recent departure from her role as Senior Company Member.
At 4 years of age, Rhiannon started Classical Ballet at Wendy Gibbs School of Ballet. She extended her training to Contemporary, Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop and Tap, but it was in 1996 where Rhiannon found her love for Contemporary under the teaching of Michelle Forté herself. She remained teaching at the studio for 13 years. In 2011, Rhiannon graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education from Wollongong University and is a trained PDHPE / Dance Teacher.
Throughout her performance career, she has had the opportunity to work with many renowned choreographers: Iratxe Anse (Netherlands Dans Theatre), Spencer Gaving Hering (iMEE Dance) Paul Selwyn Norton (Director of STRUT Dance), Thomas Bradley (Sydney Dance Company), Sagi Gross (Director of Gross Dance Company) Lisa Maris McDonell, (WAAPA & NAISDA), Ashley Wright (Opera De Lyon), Jim De Block (ex-Royal Flanders Ballet & Opera De Lyon), and our very own company patron, Maurice Causey.
Rhiannon has performed in Norton’s “Army of You” for the company’s production of “Too Soon To Tell” at the 2011 Sydney Fringe Festival. She featured in Causey's reworked duet “Hither Thither” which was orginially presented by Houston’s iMEE dance company. In the 2015 annual production of “uNCOILEd”, she performed in Bradley’s “Matter of Act” and featured in Ansa’s “The Other Body”. Rhiannon has also performed with the company in both the Adelaide and Sydney Fringe Festivals in 2017.
In 2014, Rhiannon was invited by Iratxe Ansa to participate in “Metamorphosis”, a 3-week international residency held in Beijing. During this time, she took part in improvisational encounters as part of the Beijing Arts Festival. Since then, Rhiannon has continued to be invited by Ansa to participate in the “Metamorphosis” residencies, which have taken place in Mexico and Spain. In 2016, she took part in the Spain residency, which again saw her perform in many encounters in places such as the San Telmo Museum and the Guggenhiem (Bilbao), with a final performance of “ The Absent Body” at Teatro Victoria Eugenia to conclude the 4-week residency.
In late 2015, Rhiannon was part of an independent project choreographed by Lisa Maris McDonell. This saw her travel to Tasmania as part of a Tasdance and Arts NSW supported residency, with fellow dancer Carina Serray. They reworked and further developed “Five Kinds of Paradise”, which was later performed at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre as part of their 2016 performance season. in 2017, Rhiannon performed a three hour durational work as part of Maris-McDonell's "Chamber Dances" project which was commissioned by Wollongong Art Gallery. This involved a cyclical series of instructions as a score with the performers negotiating the space, the score and each other in real-time.
She continues to show her support for ADT and Michelle Forte as the company forges its way through, as it has provided a creative platform for her to experience dance from a new perspective, partake in priceless artistic opportunities and develop herself as an artist and choreographer.