Meet The Team
Nadia Lockwood (Kocz), Director | Principal
Nadia commenced her classical training (aged 8) at the Victorian Ballet School. Her family moved to Canberra in 1989 and Nadia continued to study at the Dell Brady Ballet School, completing RAD Syllabus examinations to Advanced level.
Nadia went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Dance at the Queensland University of Technology between 1997-1999. During this time, Nadia performed at public events, collaborated with numerous Independent Artists and worked closely with Expressions Dance Company, now Australian Dance Collective. Nadia also worked with the Australian Opera Company in both Queensland and Melbourne before transitioning into the world of Insurance.
After a decade-long career, marriage and the birth of two beautiful children, Nadia decided to make a return to dance. As an adult, Nadia realised that she understood so much more about the world of dance than she ever did as a young student. This is the understanding she seeks to share with aspiring students of the arts.
“I have become the mentor I needed most when I was an aspiring dancer, and now my desire is to share what I know.”
And therein, Yarra Valley Ballet was born…
Favourite Sayings: "Never Say Never." "If you don't ask, you don't know what the answer would have been."
Best Suited Quote: "I'm not bossy. I just know what you should be doing." (whilst smiling)
Marika Silwedel | Assistant Principal
Marika comes from the beautiful Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. She grew up studying various methods and techniques including the Cecchetti Classical Syllabus, Modern Dance (Graham, Horton & Limon), graduating York University with Honours in Dance.
Ukrainian Traditional Dance holds a cherished place in her Marika's heart and heritage. As a girl, she danced with Dunai, a Ukrainian Dance Company founded and run by her parents. Marika recalls some rare and memorable experiences from her youth, including being a student to both Roma Pryma Bohachevsky and Valentina Pereyaslavets, both notable dancers and teachers. Pereyaslavets taught some of the world's foremost dancers, including Erik Bruhn, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev!
Marika brings depth and breadth to her teaching and choreography, alongside warmth, humour and compassion. She teaches with great attention to detail, musicality and performance quality. Marika has also spent the last decade with chronic pain as her constant companion, which has only caused her to become more determined to do what she loves -all things dance!
Marika has been a significant part of Yarra Valley Ballet since its inception in 2016. She continues to be a loyal and trusted member of our Leadership Team in her role as Assistant Principal.
Favourite Sayings: "Smile!!" "Dance from the Heart." "It's okay to make mistakes, it's how we learn."
Best Suited Quote: "Ways to my Heart: 1. Buy me food, 2. Make me food, 3. Be food." (!)
Andrew Lockwood | Co-Director | Strategic Direction
As a career-made Project Manager, Andrew has been a founding influence on YVB. From the outset, he was involved in the planning and implementation of the School and continues to take an active interest in its strategic direction.
Andrew is our IT Help Desk, our emergency Sound Technician or Lighting-Spot operator, our Counselling Service, our HR Manager, and also specialises in Conflict Resolution. As a Co-Director Andrew also forms part of our Leadership Team, alongside Nadia and Marika.
A sincere introvert, it is unlikely you will find Andrew anywhere near a studio or stage, however he is always across whatever is happening at the school (especially at Concert Time!)
Favourite Sayings: "Tell me more about that. What does that look like for you?" "Why?"
Best Suited Quote: "I'm responsible for what I say, not for how you interpret it." (logical brain)
Victoria Kett (nee Cunneen) | Classical Teacher
Victoria's early training took place at the National Theatre Ballet School, where she was taught by a star-studded cast of teachers including Kathy Gorham, Eileen Tasker, Lucette Aldous, Gaileen Stock, Gary Norman and Alida Segal. At age 11, she was selected to perform as a Page Boy in the Australian Ballet's 'Cinderella' and graced the stage with the renowned Colin Peasley and Robert Powell (who played the ugly stepsisters).
Victoria continued her secondary studies at VCASS (Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School). Here she studied a variety of dance styles and completed her RAD Classical Training to Advanced level. During her years at VCASS she was also fortunate to take part in both local and international performance tours to Scotland, England and Hong Kong.
One of Victoria's career highlights occurred at age 15, when she was invited as one of only 5 Australian students to study a Summer Intensive course, held at the prestigious Princess Grace Dance Academy in Monte Carlo, under Russian teacher Marika Besobrasova. This was considered a great honour and remained a memorable experience for many years to come.
Sadly, Victoria sustained career-ending injuries when she was just 19 years of age. Medical information in the late 80's was simply not what it is today, and at the time she was told that it would take her many years to recover sufficiently to dance again.
Victoria redefined her career with a Business Degree and moved into Corporate Marketing, Sales and Event Management. She has over 20 years experience in Business Administration and Hotel Management. During this time, she continued to dance and compete in Modern & Latin Ballroom styles before returning to ballet in 2017. In 2019, Victoria became a qualified PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Teacher.
Victoria brings a measured and focused approach to the classroom. She is genuine, sincere and thoughtful in her instruction, which creates an atmosphere of steady composure.
Favourite sayings: "How did that feel? It looked amazing, did it feel amazing?" "Remember to Breathe!" "Each time you train, train for a 2% improvement and consistency."
Favourite Quote: "Don't judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes." "Life is a journey, not a destination." "the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."
Catherine McCormick | Classical Teacher
Catherine began dancing at three years of age with Lynn McNabb at Mooroolbark Ballet School. Over her years of study, Catherine graduated with honours in both R.A.D and Cecchetti syllabi to Intermediate and Advanced levels respectively. In 2009 she received the National Bursary and Solo Seal Award, and the following year she competed in the Genee Awards in London with The Black Swan variation.
Catherine's full-time training took place at Ballet Theatre of Australia with Leanne Rutherford. During these years,
Catherine performed the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, variations from Le Corsaire, Paquita, Stars and Stripes and Madam Butterfly. In 2005 Catherine danced with The Australian Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty and with The Victorian State Ballet as the White Swan in Swan Lake and contemporary pieces.
Catherine struggled with the travel in a dancers life and decided to commence teaching. She has taught dance and pilates to students of all abilities for approximately 8 years now. Following the birth of her two fun-loving boys, she formed 'Bright-Eyed Ballet' and commenced teaching at their local primary school, Manchester Primary.
Now four years into teaching beginners, she says ‘Dancing and teaching ballet is where I thrive." "It’s heart-warming to watch my students grow and become more confident individuals, not only in their dancing but in their lives.’
Favourite sayings: "I know you can do this!" "YES!!!" "Alrighty then!"
Favourite Quote: "What you find hard today, will one day be your warm-up."
Bianca Lennon | Jazz Teacher
Bianca was 3 years old when she asked her mum if she could join a dance class. Her mum said ‘ask me again on your next birthday.’ So Bianca waited patiently for a whole year until her 4th birthday, when she asked her mum again about dance classes. The year she turned 4, Bianca started dance classes at Siobhan’s Dance Studio where she completed SFD Classical and Jazz Exams, graduating Level 8 Jazz with “Honours with Distinction.” Bianca also enjoyed choreography from a young age and entered her first jazz choreographic competition at 9 years old, where she placed 1st!
In 2013, Bianca pursued full-time study at Spectrum Dance Full Time Performing Arts. In 2016 she added Aerial Tissue and Lyra to her technical repertoire. Performance highlights for Bianca include performing at ’The Footy Show’ Grand Final at Rod Laver Arena, corporate events at Crown Casino, and Billboard the Venue.
As a teacher, Bianca is intuitive, inventive and encouraging. She has a knack for knowing exactly where a student is ‘up to’ in their social-emotional development and can tailor her approach to each student, building individual trusting relationships within a positive group dynamic. She brings the beautiful enthusiasm of youth to the classroom and her students adore her.
Bianca says teaching is the absolute highlight of her week. She loves being able to pass on everything she has learned in her dance career - not only technical skills but also the unseen elements that can shape young lives - confidence, courage, perseverance, determination, self-belief.
Favourite Sayings: "Amazing!!"
Favourite Quote: "Just like fire, burning out the way; If I can light the world up for just one day; Watch this madness, colourful charade; No one can be just like me any way.’ Pink
Tia Olsen | Classical Teacher / Assistant Teacher
Tia is our youngest staff member, yet has one of the longest affiliations with Yarra Valley Ballet, having taught with us since our opening year in 2017.
Tia began ballet classes at the age of three, later adding jazz and tap to her repertoire. At the age of 14 Tia chose to pursue classical ballet as her preferred style of dance, drawn to its grace, beauty and strength.
As many dancers discover, ballet became Tia's happy place. It was the one thing that could take her mind off life in the outside world and allow her to focus on the present moment. Teaching was a natural progression for Tia and provided her with an avenue for depth of understanding alongside her enjoyment of dance.
Tia is a natural teacher and exudes kindness, patience and respect in her manner. She finds great reward in being able to pass on her knowledge and help younger students develop their skill and admiration for the art form.
We feel very lucky to have Tia both as a student who sets a positive example in the classroom, and a teacher who works from a place of love and intelligence.
Favourite Sayings: "Take a deep breath and let it all out." "Is that okay?" "Hang on... what?!" "It's all good."
Best Suited Quote: "Let everything we do be an expression of the beauty in our heart, always being based on love."