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Meet the Team


Peta Spooner

My name is Peta Spooner. I have lived, breathed, and taught dance for more than 53 years…and today, I still feel very passionate about this wonderful performing art form. I was just three years old when I first began dancing, and after sitting exams and participating in competitions, by the tender age of 15, I had started to teach dance. Then I moved to Nelson and pursued my passion further, establishing Peta Spooner Academy of Dance. Over the past five decades, I have taught thousands of pupils, guiding, and preparing them for exams, competitions, and shows, and it’s been fabulous to see their progress. I am a qualified teacher of classical ballet and contemporary modern jazz; I have been an examiner throughout Australasia for the past 14 years, and I have taken dance groups overseas to Finland and Jamaica. Teacher training is an important aspect of my work, with many of my pupils having become teachers themselves, including Jane Pascoe who I work closely with today, especially in relation to our involvement in musical theatre.


‘Honesty, integrity, kindness, caring and giving – these are the kinds of the attributes I like to nurture in my students.’ – Peta Spooner


Valerie Roche

Valerie Roche has taught our senior ballet students for around 15 years. She teaches the RAD syllabus, along with open classes of pointe and repertoire. We are very lucky to have someone with such a wealth of knowledge to teach our girls not only sound technique but classical variations from some of the favourite ballets of all time. I'm sure there are many past students who have fond memories of their time in Valerie's classes as well as on stage performing under her guidance.


Phillippa Gray

Philippa's dancing career began at three years of age when she fell in love with Ballet while watching her cousin perform onstage. She pestered her parents so much about learning ballet that she started lessons soon thereafter. At the age of six when her family relocated to Nelson Philippa became a student at the Peta Spooner Academy of Dance and it was there that her love of dance was fostered and encouraged.

After regretfully giving up ballet as a teenager, Philippa went on to gain a Bachelor of Arts, a certificate in Counselling and worked in business and office administration. She is also a mother to three beautiful children and helps her husband to run their family owned Natural Health business.

Philippa returned to dance in 2017 as an adult student and it was there that she rediscovered her passion for dance. With support and encouragement from Peta Spooner she successfully attained her Associate Degree in Ballet and her Anatomy and Physiology Diploma in 2019.

From Philippa: "Being a part of the teaching team at Peta Spooner Academy of Dance is extremely rewarding and I feel very lucky to have my teaching skills nurtured in an environment where every student is welcomed, encouraged and given the same opportunities to succeed. I look forward to passing on my love of dance to all of the students i am lucky enough to come into contact with"


Jane Pascoe

I live in sunny Nelson with my husband Alastair, our two children, Austin and Mackenzie, and Hunter the dog.

I started teaching when I was a baby…ok, I was 16, but still pretty young, and since then I’ve dedicated myself to learning as a teacher and enriching others’ lives.

I am eternally grateful for my teaching ‘apprenticeship’ with Peta Spooner, which turned into a lifetime partnership in dance, and friendship too.

I am passionate about movement! I have been a dancer all my life. As a teenager, I chose to follow that passion into teaching, which over the last 20 years or more has evolved to many different movement modalities including yoga, barre and Pilates. Some of my greatest accomplishments in dance are achieving Fellowship qualifications in both ballet and modern jazz, along with building up my own dance studio in Stoke that works closely with PSAD. It’s also the lifetime friendships with students and their parents, whether it be seeing students go on to full time dance training, or success in other fields, there is so much they take with them from the studio into their lives.

My passion has always been to share my love of movement far and wide and help others feel the joy that can be found in moving your body in creative ways. My goal is to provide incredible classes that are accessible to all regardless of age demographic or physical limitations.


Leonie Climo

Leonie brings over 10 yrs years of Teaching Experience to our studio Leonie’s dancing career began at the tender age of four with the Peta Spooner Academy of Dance. As she continued her passion into her teen years, Leonie became a student teacher with PSAD. Over the next four years Leonie gained her Associates Degree in both Ballet and Modern Jazz and a diploma in Dance Exercise. Leonie took some time away from teaching to raise her two gorgeous girls (who also have developed the love for dance). While making the most of being at home with her children, Leonie also studied in her other interest, Horticulture. She also has qualifications in Tourism and Business & Office Administration. Leonie is now back teaching at PSDA for 2 years and passed her Licentiate Ballet exam in June 2021

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Michaela Sheehan

I am a trained Primary School Teacher (BTchLn Canterbury University) with the performing arts bug. I took to the stage in my first show as a wee 7 year old and from then, it was all over. My family have sat through many productions where I have played different parts (from tree number 3, to a pirate villainess and everything in between), my roles were varied on stage and off, throughout my childhood and into being an adult. In 2003 I established my music studio, teaching piano to children in our local community in the Waikato. In 2013 My husband and I moved from Hamilton to Nelson and in 2014 Michaela’s Music Studio began. I have experience as a Musical Director, Director, Conductor, Choir Teacher, Voice Coach and Performance Coach, and have sat examinations through Trinity School of Music in Clarinet and Piano as well as Music Theory examinations through the Royal College of Music. My first love is the stage, singing and acting on it and I cannot wait to encourage and nurture the next generation of performers.

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