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Faculty

The National Theatre Ballet School is devoted to delivering exceptional dance training to all ages.

Damian Smith
(Artistic Director)

Damian brings with him more than 25 years international experience as a dancer with companies such as the Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Ballet Du Nord, New York City Ballet and 18 years as Principal Dancer with the highly acclaimed San Francisco Ballet.

He has been chosen more than 20 times to be the original cast for some of the world’s best choreographers, including Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and Nacho Duato, and worked with them on the creation of their new ballets.

Beginning his dance training in Newcastle with the Robyn Hick School of Dance and the Marie Walton Dance Academy, Damian completed his studies at the MacDonald College before being accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York at just 16 years old. His appointment at National Theatre Ballet School marks a welcome homecoming and an exciting new chapter for Damian and the School

Susan Sargison
(Associate Artistic Director)

Susan commenced her performance career at an early age starring as Clara in the Tasmanian Ballet Company’s’ production of the Nutcracker. In 1979, Susan moved to Melbourne to attend the Australian Ballet School performing with the Dancers Company and the Australian Ballet under the direction of Dame Peggy Van Praggh.

Her professional stage appearance’s included productions of Coppelia, Carmen, Giselle, and The Three Musketeer’s. Susan was also fortunate to be the choreographic muse for Robert Ray’s productions of Poems and City Dances. After graduation, Susan worked with the Heidelberg Ballet Ensemble, Rex Reid Ballet Company and The Victorian State Opera in their production of Aida. Moving into Musical Theatre, Susan undertook overseas contracts to dance in Singapore and Japan.

Continuing her dance journey Susan proved herself a reliable Australian dancer and was engaged in regular work in the West End’s Commercial and Musical Theatre industry. As one of Charles Augins Dancers at Pineapple Dance Centre she undertook contracts to dance in Portugal and Vienna.

Returning to Australia in 1987, Susan performed as a member and Understudy to the lead in the original cast of ‘Seven Little Australians’. Other credits include a dancer on Countdown and the Melbourne commercial circuit as a Jillian Fitzgerald dancer. Ms. Sargison operated her own dance school in metropolitan Melbourne in the capacity of Artistic Director for 25 years. During this time, she also taught at Tertiary Dance Institutes teaching Certificate IV and Diploma students in Classical Ballet, Pas De Duex and Contempory.

Since 1991 Susan has been an active Adjudicator at numerous Dance Competitions and Eisteddfod’s throughout Australia. In 2012 Susan was appointed to the board of Examiners for The Royal Academy of Dance and also the Southern Federation of Dance.

Jane Keen - classical ballet

Jane has been a dance teacher specialising in Classical Ballet since 1997. As a young student, she trained under Rhyl Kennell attaining her Cecchetti Advanced 2 and she won the Cecchetti Gold Medal in 1982. Her studies continued at the Victorian College of Arts under directorship of Anne Woolliams and trained with Elaine Rae obtaining her RAD Elementary and Intermediate Certificates.

Jane was accepted into the Australian Ballet School graduating after 3 years with a Diploma of Dance (Distinction). At the ABS, Jane had the incredible opportunity to work and learn from Margaret Scott (Director), Gaileen Stock, Gary Norman, Terri Charlesworth, Robert Ray, Leigh Warren, Christine Howard and Ai-Gul Gaisina. During this time, she received a scholarship to study at the Princess Grace Ballet School in Monaco where she was coached by Marika Besobrasova.

She danced with the Australian Ballet Dancers Company then joined The Australian Ballet Company under Maina Gielgud. Jane performed soloist roles including ‘Peasant Pas’ from Giselle and ‘Cupid’ from Don Quixote as well performing in Etudes, Checkmate and Taming of the Shrew.

After her dancing career, she obtained an Advanced Diploma of Dance Teaching (High Distinction) from the Australian Ballet School under the directorship of Gaileen Stock which included: Ballet Methodology (Vaganova), Contemporary, Character, Child Psychology, Anatomy, Music, Dance History, Choreography and Benesh Notation. Jane is a qualified and Registered teacher and Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance conducting Examinations and feedback sessions.

She has studied the Australian Ballet System Training (Vaganova), International Character Syllabus with Alida Segal, Contemporary dance with Margaret Wilson and Progressing Ballet Technique with Marie Walton-Mahon. Jane also holds a Fitness Instructor Certificate, has a great interest in body conditioning and for past 20 years continues to train in the Pilates method.

Jane has taught at many dance schools in Melbourne, including the Australian Ballet School and has adjudicated for many Eisteddfods and Cecchetti Awards.
Jane has been a member of the VIC/TAS RAD Panel and was the Chairperson from 2011-14. Jane is a current member of IADMS, Australian Ballet Society.

Alida Segal - Character Dance

Alida Segal is regarded as one of Australia’s most respected dance lecturers and choreographers specialising in National and Character Dance. Graduating from the Moiseyev School of National and Character dance in Moscow, USSR, she has worked with professional companies and leading training institutions as an advisor, teacher and choreographer for more than 28 years.

Her early dance training includes studying classical ballet under Kathleen Gorham, Eileen Tasker, Madame J. Ciunovas and Laurel Marten OBE and Character dance under Madame Marina Berezowsky. Being offered a place at the Victorian College of The Arts, she decided to further her dance training overseas and travelled to Moscow where she graduated with honours from the Moiseyev School of National and Character Dance. She went on to study Teaching Methodology and Choreography and was awarded a Diploma in National and Character Stage Dance from the USSR’s Ministry of Culture. She was later offered a position in Doctorate studies in Choreography at Moscow’s State institute for Performing Arts and was the sole Australian delegate at UNESCO Symposium “Preservation and Development of Folk Dance held in the USSR. She has performed across Australia with Kolobok Dance Company and at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow, with the Moiseyev School.

Her many teaching and choreographic engagements include The Australian Ballet school (lecturer and member of assessment panel), The Australian Conservatoire of Ballet, Shalom Australia Dance Company, the Queensland University of Technology (Dance Department), The Victorian College of the Arts and The National Theatre Ballet School. Also being fluent in both English and Russian she is often called upon to translate and assist visiting Russian teachers and choreographers working in companies and elite training institutions.

Other engagements include directing, producing and presenting “From Folk Dance to Footlights” for Multicultural Arts Victoria and Assistant Ballet Mistress for VIC Arts Dance Company.

Yuiko Masukawa - Classical Ballet

Yuiko Masukawa  is a choreographer and teacher based in Melbourne. As a student in Japan, America and Canada, she was invited to compete in the Beijing International Ballet Competition. She graduated at West Australia Academy of Performing Arts, before launching a professional career as a dancer and choreographer now spanning over ten years.

Yuiko was a Principal Artist with Melbourne City Ballet from 2012-2019. As a dancer she has toured across Australia, New Zealand and Japan performing principal roles. She was also the artistic director of Melbourne City Youth Ballet, setting and presenting 10 full-length ballets. Her work with MCYB was nominated for outstanding achievement in youth dance at the 2018 Australian Dance Awards.

In 2019, she was awarded an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant to undertake choreographic secondments with the New York City Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Japanese contemporary choreographer, Toru Shimazaki.

John Utans - Contemporary Dance

As a performer and choreographer John has worked with numerous companies and independent projects including:

Performing and creating “The Satie Piece” Out of Bounds at Lucy Guerin Inc (April 2022)  Presented film “3012” at the BOLD Festival Canberra (2022) Aberdeen, Scotland Dance Live, (streaming film & performance 2021) Motion Works Hong Kong (2019) idance Festival Hong Kong (2014, 2009), Crossing Borders (Melbourne ArtsHouse (2013), DANSCROSS/Beijing Dance Academy & Middlesex University (2009), The Hong Kong Ballet Company (2018), The Hong Kong Opera (2007), The Milwaukee Ballet Company (2005), Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake City, Utah (2005), Opera Hong Kong (2005), Australian Contemporary Dance Company, Human Veins Dance Theatre, Danceworks, Australian Dance Theatre, Queensland Theatre Company, Expressions Dance Company, Leigh Warren & Dancers, The West Australian Ballet Company, The Australian Ballet School and the Queensland Ballet Company.

John has taught and choreographed for tertiary dance institutions including Rusden (Deakin University), The Victorian College of the Arts, Queensland University of Technology, La Salle College of the Arts- Singapore, Sejong University, Seoul, Korea and Xinghai Conservatory of Music(星海音乐学院) and the Adelaide Centre of Performing Arts, in addition to frequent guest teaching positions with Australian and international dance companies.

Prior to joining the National Theatre Ballet School, John was a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. (2003- 2020).

Jackie Rae Lythgo - Jazz, Tap and Musical Theatre

Jackie Rae Lythgo is a triple threat performer who studied at the Victorian College Of The Arts, The Johnny Young Talent School, Karen Stephens, and Dance Factory on scholarship. As an actor, singer and dancer, Jackie Rae has consistently worked in the industry with top Australian and international directors, musical directors, and choreographers.

Jackie Rae began professionally performing as a lead compere of Warner Bros. pantomime for Conrad and Co Australia wide for several years, along with a list of corporate, commercial, TV, band, dance, and theatre credits.

At 22, she gained her first professional Musical Theatre role as the Enchantress in Disney’s “Beauty And The Beast.” Her next role was understudying the female lead, Phillia, in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Way To The Forum,” touring Australia and New Zealand.

Other Theatre credits include a Hot Box Doll in “Guys And Dolls”, “Hello Dolly,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and “South Pacific” for The Production Company, later touring to Sydney with Sea Biscuit.

Vincent Crowley - Movement and Fitness

Vincent has been teaching actors, dancers, office workers, mums and dads how to move better and how to perform better for the last nineteen years.  He has taught in professional dance and theatre companies in Australia and Europe, Arts training colleges, corporate workshops, boot camps and one-to-one personal training sessions.

His broad range of physical training and performance experience ranges from classical ballet through contemporary dance, contact improvisation, strength and conditioning and the Feldenkrais Method.  He has taught movement to actors, dancers and opera singers in both professional companies and tertiary institutions in Germany and Australia.  He has been teaching at the National Theatre Drama School Advanced Diploma since 2012.

Having trained as an actor Vincent has spent much of his performance career working in Dance Theatre and Physical Theatre. He has worked in Australia, the US and Europe with companies and artists such as Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre, TanzTheater Basel, Salzburger Festwochen, Schauspiel Koeln, Steierischer Herbst, Chunky Move and Force Majeur.  He also worked with director Spike Jonze on the Warner Brothers Movie “Where the Wild Things Are”.

He is a founding member of both Splinter Group and Torque Show and has co-created a number of theatre works with these companies including “Lawn”. and “Intimacy”.   “Intimacy” was invited to London’s Southbank Centre as part of the Unlimited Festival and won the 2015 Australian Dance award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance. “Lawn” was the recipient multiple Green Room Awards in 2009.

Ezlimar Dortolina

Born in Venezuela, Ezlimar started her ballet studies with Nina Novak in Caracas. She was a recipient of the UNESCO Ashberg Scholarship to study at the Ecole Superieure de Danse Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France and also received a scholarship to study at The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. 

She has worked as a soloist and principal dancer in companies in the United States and South America such as Ballet Teresa Carreño, Ballet Contemporaneo de Caracas, Ballet Concierto, Tulsa Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, State Street Ballet and the Oklahoma City Ballet.

Her repertoire includes the leading roles of Esmeralda, Le Corsaire, Grand Pas Classique, Cinderella, Don Quixote, Black Swan, Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Allegro Brillante, La Traviata, Cerrudo´s Lickety Split and others.

As a Soloist with the Oklahoma City Ballet, she danced in Tudor´s Lilac Garden, Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, Robert Mills´s Pushing Pennies and Paris Rouge, Balanchine’s Rubies, Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, Stanton Welch’s Play, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Moyna in Giselle and the leading role of Jacob Sparso’s Carmen. 

Ezlimar joined the faculty of the National Theatre Ballet School in April, 2021 and was the supporting teacher for the Summer series of IBW in 2021.

Ezlimar is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She is also a PBT certified instructor, ACB Pre-Primary through Level 4, Level 1 of the International Character Dance Syllabus and attended the professional Development course on Vaganova technique by Mr. Runquiao Du.