Faculty

MAKS is passionate about providing the highest quality dance technique and artistry. Our teaching staff are experienced dance teachers, each holding the relevant certification for their dance genre. Many have also had professional dance experience and/or experience running their own dance schools and all of them are passionate about dance and nurturing our students – whether they dance for fun or are pursuing dance to an elite level.

Katherine Arnold-Lindley

Director

Faculty Member Katherine

Katherine Arnold-Lindley trained at the Betsy Sawers School of Dancing in Canberra before moving to Perth to complete her 3 year Diploma at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts under the tuition of Lucette Aldous, Alan Alder and Mark Annear. After graduating, Katherine danced with the West Australian Ballet, performing in works such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Nutcracker and Don Quixote touring nationally and internationally, before moving to Sydney to join Paul Mercurio’s Australian Choreographic Ensemble, touring throughout Australia.

She then joined Opera Australia as one of their full-time dancers, performing regularly at the State Theatre in Melbourne and the Opera House in Sydney, until joining Sydney Dance Company in 1996, where she danced until retiring in 2006. Her time with the company included extensive national and international touring throughout Australia, America, Europe, Asia and the UK performing in well known Graeme Murphy works such as Free Radicals, Salome, Tivoli, Underland, Grand, Air and other Invisible Forces, Body of Work and Beauty and the Beast.

During this time, she also gained her teaching certificate from the Royal Academy of Dance with distinction. Katherine has more than 18 years’ experience as a Royal Academy of Dance teacher and has developed many successful dancers during this time. She is passionate about nurturing a love of dance in her students whilst encouraging safe dance practice and quality technique, incorporating her knowledge and professional experience into her teaching.

Matthew Shilling

Director

Faculty Member Matthew Shilling

Matthew Shilling brings a wealth of experience from a career spanning over 30 years as a professional dancer, teacher and director. Matthew grew up in Taree before moving to Sydney to train at the Tanya Pearson Academy.

From there he was awarded a scholarship to train at l’Ecole Superieure de Dance de Quebec in Montreal, where he received a very strong grounding in classical ballet, before joining one of Canada’s major ballet companies Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Matthew danced with the company performing in such works as Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and Swan Lake, working with world renowned choreographers like Nacho Duato and Mark Norris, touring throughout Canada, America, Europe and Asia before returning to Australia to dance with Opera Australia. He then went on to join Sydney Dance Company where he danced under Graeme Murphy for 11 years, touring with them extensively throughout Australia, America, Europe, Asia and the UK. During this time Matthew also studied for his Royal Academy of Dance teaching certificate, which he achieved with distinction.

Since retiring in 2007, he has focussed on his teaching career and choreography. Matthew has taught at numerous studios across Australia and choreographed works for many, including collaborating with Sarah Boulter on shows such as ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Matthew is passionate about teaching and developing his students and has supported countless students to gain placement in prominent schools in Australia and around the world including: The Australian Ballet School, Queensland Ballet Academy, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School, Palucca University of Dance Dresden, New Zealand School of Dance and the Victorian College of the Arts.

Many of his students are now in full-time employment with leading dance companies both at home and abroad.

Erica Lee

Ballet

Faculty Member Erica

Erica Lee has taught ballet for the past twenty years across numerous schools.

Beginning her training with Prudence Bowen in Sydney, Erica then joined the Royal Ballet School in London. She spent years dancing with the Deutsche Opera Berlin (West Berlin ballet) in a variety of classical and modern productions. Returning to Australia she danced with the Australian Opera.

Erica has a degree in Early Childhood and is a Registered Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance. She enjoys teaching children of all ages, passing on her passion and love of dance.

Rhiannon Taylor

Ballet

Faculty Member Rhiannon

Rhiannon Taylor started dancing at age 5, studying ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and musical theatre in her hometown of Mackay, Queensland where she obtained her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 and her Teacher’s Certificate in Tap from the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing.

She then took some time away from the dance world to focus on her academic studies and career. Rhiannon returned to dance in 2017 and soon after rediscovered her love of teaching.

Rhiannon teaches our MAKS Mini Movers and is passionate about fostering every child’s confidence and creativity through movement and music.

Melissa Fawkes

Ballet

Faculty Member Melissa

Melissa Fawkes started ballet at the age of 4 and trained with various Canberra dance schools before completing her training at MAKS where she obtained her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 and competed in the Genee International Ballet competition in 2016.

Melissa holds a Master of Secondary Teaching and also trains in Soo Bahk Do, a traditional Korean Martial art.

Catherine Szabo

Ballet

Faculty Member Catherine

Catherine Szabo brings a unique perspective to the studio with an intricate knowledge of the body from her studies to become a doctor and over 10 years of building and developing artistry and technique as a classical dancer.

She taught extensively throughout Sydney before moving to Canberra in 2020. Originally trained in the Vaganova method by Patrina Borrer at The Ballet Studio in Sydney she attended Tanya Pearson’s Classical Coaching Academy before moving to Budapest, Hungary where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Ballet at the Hungarian National Dance Academy.
Catherine worked in Hungary performing in Ballets, Contemporary works, and Operas and, after returning to Sydney to pursue Medicine, she has continued to be involved in dance.

She has performed in multiple independent projects, including Opera Australia’s Aida, Anna Bolena, Il Viaggio a Reims and Lakmé. Catherine was a dance double in feature film Dance Academy and was nominated and shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award in 2018 for her performance in dance film Unstilled.

“As a teacher the leadership style I use is collaborative and gives me the chance to pass on knowledge that I have refined from continual devotion to the art while inviting the students to learn and develop their own style without judgement.”

Kristie Graham

Ballet

Faculty Member Kristie

Kristie Graham has had a passion for dance since she was a young child and loves helping students explore their love of movement.

She has a diverse teaching background that includes, Primary School, Childcare, Distance Education, Dance Teaching, (classical ballet, jazz). Kristie holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood) and a Bachelor of Education (Special Needs).

She has taught at numerous dance studios and high schools where she has prepared students for Royal Academy of Dance exams, taught dance and choreographed routines for eisteddfods and concerts.

Kristie joined the MAKS faculty in 2020 and places a strong emphasis on a ‘sense of belonging.’ She strives to make every child feel like they belong while she caters for their individual needs.

Jacinta Rush

Ballet, Jazz and Tap

Faculty Member Jacinta

Jacinta Rush trained at MAKS under Matthew and Katherine, completing her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 exam in 2020.

As a student Jacinta enjoyed secondment with the Sydney Dance Company pre-professional year, and countless achievements at group and individual eisteddfods locally and interstate. Jacinta also trained vocally for many years, performing both lead and ensemble roles in a number of musicals across Canberra.

Jacinta began training as a teacher in 2019 under the guidance of Helen Poulos, and quickly fell in love with watching the next generation grow. In 2021 she commenced a Bachelor of Primary Education and has enjoying studying and teaching dance in both Wollongong and Canberra.

Jacinta’s favourite styles as a student were ballet and lyrical, but she couldn’t pick a favourite style to teach as they all provide such unique and exciting opportunities for the growth and development of a young dancer.

Chloe White

Ballet and Jazz

Faculty Member Chloe

Chloe White completed her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 examination with North Shore Dance Academy in 2019.

Training in Classical Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz Chloe earned countless placings in solo and group eisteddfods with NSDA and Pymble Ladies’ College. She gained invaluable experience performing at the Australian Dance Festival and taking classes at schools including the Joffrey Ballet School and Tanya Pearson Academy.

After relocating to Canberra to commence a Double Bachelor Degree in International Security Studies and Laws (Honours) at the ANU, she joined QL2 for their REBEL season at the playhouse and then the Sydney Dance Company Pre-professional program where she earned her Diploma in Elite Dance Performance.

Patricia Hayes Cavenagh

Contemporary, Lyrical, Acro and Ballet

Faculty Member Pat

Patricia Hayes Cavenagh began seriously training in Contemporary at 15. She was able to greatly expand her knowledge and understanding of dance, herself, and the world that she lives in.

Graduating Year 12 in 2018, Patricia went on to train for 2 years at Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Program.

Since returning to Canberra, she has loved teaching, choreographing, and rehearsal assisting at a number of studios. Patricia also works as a Party Artist with Australian Dance Party

Megan Simjanovski

Jazz, Tap and Hip Hop

Faculty Member Megan

Megan Simjanovski has been a dancer in the entertainment industry for twelve years and has over fifteen years’ experience teaching children of all ages. Since graduating from Brent Street with a Certificate IV in Performing Arts, she has worked nationally and internationally. Her credits include dancing for REDFOO, Kelly Rowland, David Guetta, Bag Raiders, Showtek, Paulini, Johnny Ruffo, Justice Crew and The McClymonts.

She has choreographed for Australia’s Got Talent contestants, X-Factor and Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo, Australian Fashion Graduate Week, Carols in the Domain, Loud Shirt Day, Disney Fanfest, TIGI Hair Show and EduTech National and International Expo Gala dinner.

Megan is a passionate, dedicated teacher who is always looking for innovative ways to explore her student’s movement. Through her years of teaching, she has found a true power that performance has to offer in the development and growth of a student. Past students have blossomed and transformed under Megan’s guidance.

Jake Kuzma

Contemporary

Faculty Member Jake

Jake Kuzma is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher with over 10 years experience teaching all levels, from juniors to professionals.
Jake’s dance style is mix of contemporary, urban movement and floor work which he has shared with MAKS since 2021.

He holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from Queensland University of Technology and a Masters of Primary Education from the University of Canberra.
Highlights of Jake’s expansive career include performing for Antony Hamilton, Cadi McCarthy, Claire Marshall, Melanie Lane, and the Western Australian Contemporary Dance Company.
Jake’s dance career has also taken him internationally to Montreal, Canada and Chengdu and Guangzhou, China.

Jake was honoured to teach a Bangarra Dance Theatre company class in 2015. He has also been invited to choreograph for professional youth companies all around Australia.

Despite all his success, Jake has only achieved a full split twice in his career.

Timothy Walshe

Ballet

Faculty Member Tim

Timothy Walshe was born and raised in Canberra, started dancing at 9 years old at Lisa Clark School of Ballet (now Lisa Clark Dance Centre). His dance journey started with jazz training and some tap, before predominately ballet training under Lisa Clark, completing his RAD ballet exams up to Advanced 1. It was during this time that Tim met Matt and Kath and continued his training until 18 years of age. After college, he transitioned to choreography and hip-hop training at Fresh Funk under Director Leena Wall. Today, Tim is an established tutor in the Fresh Funk program, which he teaches weekly in the Tuggeranong Valley.

Tim being from a family of educators, realised his passion for teaching and pursued his Bachelor of Primary Education (Creative Arts) in 2015 at the University of Canberra. During this time, he travelled overseas to places such as Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo to continue his training in as many styles as possible. Following these opportunities, Tim was called to lead the creative direction, teaching and performances of local primary school dance programs during his tertiary study. He was also awarded DFAT’s New Colombo Plan Scholarship in 2019, which took him to Hong Kong to learn about the arts, language and build people-to-people relations in the Pacific region as an aspiring teacher.

Tim is a qualified teacher in the ACT who currently teaches in the secondary context. During the day, he’s Mr Walshe who teaches future citizens and leaders. After the bell, you can find him spending many hours in the studio, training future stars.