Miss Susan Thomson – AISTD, Grad ABS(dancer), Adv Dip PDTC-ABS(teaching)
Classical ballet has been Susan’s profession for 42 years . Born in Melbourne she was selected as the first and only Victorian student to be taken into the Australian Ballet School’s initial intake in 1964. During the 3 years she spent at the Australian Ballet School she studied with Nina Nedzsvetskaya, Mr. Poul Gnatt from the Royal Danish Ballet, Mr. Leon Kelloway and Dame Margaret Scott. After graduation she was selected to become a member of “Ballet Victoria”, wherein she performed both Principal and Soloiste roles. Whilst with Ballet Victoria, Susan danced Odette in “Swan Lake” , as one of the two leading Wilis in “Giselle”, Swanhilda in “Coppelia”, Grande Pas de Deux in “Pacquita”, and the Pas de Deux in “Le Corsaire”. She also performed as a member of one of the leading couples in Laurel Martyns’ “Spring Sonata”.
Other ballets Susan performed in included “La Beau Danube”, “Peter and the Wolf” , “Sylvia” and “The Nutcracker” , to name a few. During this time she again studied with Poul Gnatt, Nina Nedzsvetskaya and Lynne Golding.In 1973 Susan had the good fortune to meet Mr. Igor Belsky, Ballet Master of the Kirov Ballet Company. With an invitation from Mr. Belsky, and negotiation through the Australian Government, Susan and her husband Toivo were provided with a marvellous opportunity to travel to St. Petersburg to study and observe classes with both the Vaganova Academy and The Kirov Ballet Company.
Prior to teaching at her own School, Susan performed and studied in Munich, London and New York, working with such teachers as David Howard and Jurgen Schneider.
Susan performed in Swan Lake with the great Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. She also made numerous television appearances and toured with The Arts Council of Australia.
Susan was selected for The Australian Ballet School Teacher Training Course where she graduated with her Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma.
Susan and her husband Toivo Taves have taught for over 30 years, training hundreds of young dancers. Many of those students are now dancing in companies around the world, including The Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Western Australian and Queensland ballet companies.
From 1997 to 2007, Susan and Toivo worked with Janina Ciunovas (listed in Gretchen Ward Warren book “Ten Twentieth Century Master Teachers”.
Mr Toivo V. Taves – AISTD, LISTD, FISTD (London), Enrico Cecchetti Diploma.
Toivo came to Australia as child with his parents who fled the Russian occupation of their countries Estonia and Latvia. He started to learning the folk dances of those countries prior to learning classical ballet, which he began at approximately 10 years of age with an English RAD teacher who then advised he needed a male teacher to develop his dance ability. He was then enrolled to study with Latvian ballet master, Paul Fibigs who had formerly been a Principal Dancer with the Latvia National Ballet prior his arrival in Australia after the Second World War. He gave Toivo an excellent training and introduced him to the Russian System of classical ballet training which led to him becoming a member of Ballet Victoria. This marvellous company, which was instrumental in the development of ballet in Australia gave Toivo many opportunities. He danced many Soloist and Principal roles from all of the great classical ballets and toured Australia with this company.
During this time Toivo also met his future wife Susan Thomson. After Toivo and Susan married they were offered the marvellous opportunity of studying in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) after meeting the great dancer Michail Baryshnikov and ballet master of the great Kirov Ballet, Igor Belsky. With this incredible opportunity Susan and Toivo were able to stay for 3 months and see the incredible training that the Russian students received, which was an amazing experience for them whilst Russia was still under the Soviet rule. After this experience, Toivo decided that when he did stop dancing he would very much like to learn to teach in this way. When the opportunity did eventually present itself for Toivo to teach, several years later, he together with Susan took over the school of Paul Fibigs, Toivo’s former teacher. Initially they taught the Cecchetti system, mainly because Susan already had Cecchetti qualifications and Toivo, during this time himself studied this system gaining passing all the dancing examinations within a period of three years and then proceeded to gain all teaching qualifications of this System from Associate to Licentiate and finally to gaining the Fellowship qualification. At the same time he also continued to train and was one of the first Australians to obtained the Enrico Cecchetti Diploma, the highest dancers examination.
Toivo has also been very interested in choreographing and did several items for Ballet Victoria and also was Runner Up in the the Australian Choreographic Competition with his work called “The Scarf” which was a oas de deluxe for he and Susan to Dance. He and Susan were however still wanting to teach the Russian System because they saw the beautiful results that were obtained with this most logical training, not a syllabus but a system which stepped up the students training every day, every week, not a syllabus which had students doing the same exercises week in, week out for almost a year. Although, Toivo had studied the Russian System whilst a student of Paul Fibigs and also with some of the marvellous Emigre teachers who worked with Ballet Victoria, the most marvellous opportunity presented itself when Janina Ciunovas came to work at Camberwell District Ballet for 10 years and as she made it her mission to teach Susan and Toivo everything she knew about the Russian System which was an enormous amount. Janina’s story can be read in the book written by Gretchen Ward Warren called “Ten Twentieth Century Master’s”where she devoted an entire chapter to Janina Ciunovas, who was indeed a brilliant teacher who worked internationally with the another very great teacher Jurgen Schneider. After working with Janina Ciunovas Camberwell District Ballet changed over to teaching the Russian System and also became preparatory school for the Russian Choreographic Academy.
BARBARA NIMMO (Wawryk) Adv.Dip.in Choreology, Grad.Dip in Vis & Perf Arts, Cert in Workplace Training and Assessment
BARBARA NIMMO has taught for Camberwell District Ballet since 1985 and is a most respected and experienced teacher. Barbara was trained at Scully-Borovansky school in Sydney prior to being accepted into the Australian Ballet School.
She was then awarded a Scholarship to study Dance Notation at the Benesh Institute In London. On completion of this Degree she returned to Australian Ballet where she worked teaching classical repertoire using Benesh Notation for many years. She then also became a teacher of Repertoire and Notation at the Australian Ballet School where she remained for 26 years.
Kalman trained exclusively at CDB from 6 -17 years of age. He was then selected for the Australian Ballet School where he graduated into Sydney Dance Theatre becoming a very respected contemporary dancer. He has performed with the Mod Company and also appeared with the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia and Opera Victoria. Kalman completed the Elite Dance Teacher Diploma of the Australian Ballet School and now runs his own Dance School.
We are very happy to have Kalman as our Contemporary Dance Teacher
Lisa Wooley – VCE VET Dance Coordinator / Teacher
Lisa trained in all styles of theatrical dance and completed all her Cecchetti ballet examinations up to and including Advanced and Associate. She trained in contemporary dance at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Adelaide. After graduating, she danced with the Dance Company of NSW, Kinetic Energy and Ensemble Dance Theatre prior to further study and professional engagement with Berkeley Ballet Theatre in San Francisco.
Upon her return to Australia Lisa completed a Batchelor of Education with majors in Dance and Drama and worked as a freelance commercial dancer and choreographer.
She developed and implemented the dance program at Sandringham College. She is the current VET Dance Chief Assessor and has been involved in the re writing of the new Certificate Two and Four courses in Dance.
Lisa currently lectures in Dance and Drama at Ballarat University, teaches dance in studio and educational settings and acts as a dance curriculum consultant.
INDIA WOINARSKI who has joined our Faculty this year. India originally trained at Camberwell District Ballet from 5 to 10 years of age and was then selected for the Russian Choreographic Academy where she graduated with Honours at the end of 2016. She is a most beautiful experienced dancer, having performed many roles of the classical repertoire. India is also a qualified Pilates instructor.