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Southdowns Dance Academy

Southdowns Dance Academy Mission 

To develop and produce technically sound and well trained dancers that will have the opportunity to study dance at both secondary and tertiary level, and in turn to give the students the opportunity to follow a professional dance career both nationally or internationally.

 When studying further on a tertiary level this will enable the students to train dance as a teacher in ballet, contemporary, Pilates, study music theatre, theatre management, choreography, choreology, and many more. Students wanting to further their studies in dance after grade 12 will be advised where to continue their future dance studies that will be recognized internationally.

 Southdowns Dance Academy Vision

A ballet trained dancer will always excel at alternate dance forms. Nothing has ever taken the place of ballet for disciplinary training andthere is no technique in any other style of dancing that is so valuable for producing exactitude, precision, a sense of form and a sense of line. Even though the small child at a dancing class may never become a professional dancer or teacher, the courtesies and disciplines, postural development, brain development, musicality, confidence, and joy in movement, will touch their lives forever.

Ballet trained students have had opportunities nationally, and internationally, in acting for television or movies, modelling, being presenters on television, managing performing arts companies, production and co-ordination of large events such as Miss SA, Miss World, dancing at world cup opening events due to their dance knowledge and training. Many dancers have graduated as doctors, accountants, attorneys and decided to start teaching dance at a later stage.

 The above will be achieved through the training and direction of the following staff:

 Amelia van Ryneveld:

  • Matriculated as head girl at Pro Arte with Dance as a subject
  • Royal Academy of Dance: PP – Advanced 2
  • SADTA: all grade levels
  • ISTD: all grade levels
  • NSDTA: completed
  • Royal Academy of Dance: Teachers Certificate & Diploma (psychology & child learning)
  • Head of AvR & MP Academy of ballet, Junior & Major Academy (1996-2006)
  • 1st & 2nd year Vaganova theory – Eastside College
  • Co-ordinator of the Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts

 Amelia van Ryneveld heads our junior academy as well as training in the morning and afternoon senior dance academy.

 Debra Gush:

  • Baccalareus Technologiae Degree: Dance Teaching (Technikon Pretoria 1999)
  • Royal Academy of Dance: Teachers Certificate
  • Royal Academy of Dance: PP- Advanced 2
  • International Dance Teachers Association: Advanced
  • Pilates Conditioning Certificate: Australian methodology
  • Body Conditioning: Practical application for all ages
  • Professional dancer: NAPAC (4 years) & corporate dancer (4 years)
  • Lecturer & co-ordinator for Dance & Music Theatre at Tshwane University

 Debra Gush teaches our senior morning and afternoon academy in senior ballet, contemporary dance and Pilates.

 Sarah Engelbrecht: 

  • B- Tech Dance (Cum-Laude) 2009
  • Completed Checcetti Ballet examinations Primary- Intermediate
  • Completed Royal Academy of Dance major examinations Intermediate- Advanced 2
  • Attended teachers course with Royal Academy of Dance examiner and tutor (2012)
  • Attended Control conditioning course: Pilates with Debra and Andrew Gush
  • Completed Spanish Dance society examinations Grade 1- Intermediate

Sarah Engelbrecht teaches theory in our morning academy and junior ballet in our afternoon academy.

Carli Spies

  • Completed final (Grade 8) UNISA exam in practical piano with distinction in 1998          
  • Worked as an accompanist in contemporary studies at Die Gräfelfing Hochschule für Musik 1999
  • Enrolled for BA.Mus through UNISA- finished with a UTLM Diploma   Worked as an accompanist / and junior lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts, Dance and Musical Theatre,   
  • Tswane University of Technology 2003-2011
  • Member of the SASMT
  • Worked as an accompanist for the South-African Ballet Theatre and the South African Ballet School 2002-2004
  • Composed the soundtrack for a mainstream Afrikaans film- Johan Heyns 2008

 Carli Spies teaches music.

Andrew Clive Denison Gush

Baccalaureus Technologiae – Dance (Teaching) Cum Laude


  • PACT Ballet
  • PACT Dance
  • STDC Dance
  • Freeflight Dance Company
  • Moving Into Dance Mophatong
  • Cape Dance Company


•       Moving into dance Mophatong Teacher Training Course – Anatomy & Physiology (Developed Anatomy curriculum specifically for this course)

•       Tshwane University of Technology – Body Conditioning, Personal Training, Anatomy, Communication Dynamics & Independent study supervisor (Developed Anatomy curriculum specifically for this course)

•       Oakfields College/SAPAC - Body Conditioning, Personal Training, Anatomy, Research methods (Developed Anatomy and Research methods curriculum specifically for this course)

•       Freelance personal trainer/Fitness & Nutritional program designer

Carol de Wet

•       Qualified SADTA teacher in modern ballet and Hip-hop

•       S.A.D.T.A  associate member 

  • Pre-primary to associate – modern
  • Junior to level 6 - hip hop)

•       Completed R.A.D – Intermediate exam


•       Open challenge – S.A.D.T.A

•       Stars of tomorrow

•       Eldoraigne hoërskool - kunswedstryd

•       Uitsig hoërskool - kunswedstryd

•       Owner of Carol de Wet Dans Skool

Choreography - productions and musicals:

•       Grease – Johan Swanepoel,

•       Best end of Broadway – Johan Swanepoel

•       Footlose  – Eldoraigne hoërskool

 Southdowns Junior & Senior Dance Academy - afternoon centre:

Southdowns College has the perfect facilities to train dance. We offer primary school students the opportunity to receive tuition at the Southdowns Junior Dance Academy and high school students have the opportunity to train at the Southdowns Senior Dance Academy - in the RAD ballet training method, open classes, contemporary dance, Pilates/body conditioning and modern SADTA exam work - as well as participation in a dance Eisteddfod, pre-exam courses, examinations, shows and bursary competitions.

All the afternoon centre classes for the senior and junior academy may be attended by students from Southdowns Pre-preparatory, Preparatory and College, as well as students from other schools.

 Southdowns Senior Dance Academy - morning centre:

Southdowns Senior Dance Academy morning centre will consist of classes during school hours. The classes are only offered to Southdowns scholars with practical dance and theory classes. The practical lessons will consist of ballet, contemporary and Jazz class alternating with anatomy, dance history and music studies theory lessons.

In addition to the choice practical hours, all the students may also join the enrichment dance classes. The enrichment lessons will alternate with ballet, contemporary/jazz, modern, Spanish and body conditioning each week. This allows the dancers to train and develop different dance styles whilst developing versatility. Qualified ballet and modern teachers will train the practical work and guest teachers will be invited for the alternate classes during the year. We would like to inspire the enrichment students by inviting choreographers and professional dancers to perform and motivate them during the year.

UNIFORM - All senior mornings dance classes (grade 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, &12)

Your child needs the following uniform for her classes and all of it can be purchased at Danceworx – Doringkloof centre

Tel: 012 667-5806) – except the school leotard needs to be purchased at the school uniform shop.

Ballet: Black school dance leotard (with the school logo), pink tights, canvas soft shoes and point shoes. Please come and show us your new point shoes before you sew the ribbons on, so that we can check the fit. Enrichment students will be allowed to wear a plain black leotard but all the choice ballet students must purchase the school leotard.

Contemporary/Jazz, Modern & Pilates: Leotard with black footless tights or unitard.


Here are just a few rules we would like to bring to everyone’s attention:

  • Silence in the foyer at all times.
  • Students must attend class in full uniform with hair done in a bun. Tidiness and discipline is part of the dance experience. Students will have one month to purchase their dance uniform.
  • Students will have 10 minutes to get to our dance facilities at the SAX building and to change into their correct uniform. The studio doors close after 10 minutes. It is very disruptive to the class and the punctual students, if we allow late arrivals.
  • Parents are welcome to contact us from Tuesday to Friday between 9h00 and 12h00 in the morning. Please do not contact us at any other time unless it is very urgent. You are most welcome to email us at any stage – find the contact information below.
  • Any, and all, complaints and queries regarding dance must be directed to Amelia. We will only be able to give your child our best if you communicate with us directly. Your support regarding this matter is greatly appreciated.


Amelia van Ryneveld Debra Gush

083 610-0400




The Dance Department started the year off by welcoming six new dancers into the College.  Rochelle Taylor, Tamzyn Dexter, Jessica George, Lydia Sejake, Ntsako Mofemme and Koketso Firnhaber are most welcome to our growing family in addition to all our current College dance students.

The year got off to a bang when assembly duties were handed out. Two items where needed within the first two months and the dancers had to work hard to rehearse and create their pieces.

16 FEBRUARY:  Dance Assembly:

The dancers performed the jazz styled “Cry” group for assembly.  This group consisted of  6 Grade 9 Choice dancers, 6 Grade 10 Subject dancers and Grade 11 Subject dancer, Mukhove Monyai. 

The piece was well received and Mr Chris Lee asked the dancers to re-perform the piece for the Founders Day Assembly at which the entire Southdowns family from Pre-Preparatory right up to College would be present.  It was a wonderful experience for the dancers!

07 MARCH:  Contemporary Workshop

The Grade 10 and 11 subject choice dancers were treated to a special outing to the Dance Space in Newtown, Johannesburg.  Prolific South African choreographer and pedagog, Alfred Hinkel was giving contemporary class methodology for the week of the 4-7 April.  Sponsored by the National Arts Council, the annual Dance Umbrella had invited interested parties to attend the classes free of charge.

Alfred Hinkel’s choreographic works form part of the theoretical component of dance studies for the IEB and it presented a chance for our students to work with this exceptional teacher.  On arriving at the Dance Space, the Southdowns dancers took full advantage of the situation by conducting an informal interview with Mr Hinkel.  What ensued was particularly special when Mr Hinkel worked with the whole class, consisting of professional dancers and the  12 Southdowns dancers for an hour before dismissing the professional dancers so that he could spend extra time with our dancers.  After 4 hours, our exhausted, but delighted dancers came home to a Southdowns sports day and joined the support crowds. 

Mr Hinkel was heard to say,  “working with kids like these is why I enjoy being a teacher”.

09 – 14 MARCH:  SAW week.

The Southdowns Arts Week was a marathon from start to finish with a busy, but exciting schedule.

Amongst other very inspiring workshops and drama productions from the other members of the Creative Arts team, the dancers were treated to a variety of activities.

On Tuesday 10 March, the American Academy of Ballet conducted their annual South African regional auditions for their Summer school in Purchase, New York.  It was attended by College dancers, Academy dancers and dancers from surrounding schools and institutions.  The fully paid bursary was won by Southdowns Academy dancer, Jone Oosthuizen, while Southdowns College dancer, Amorie Oosthuizen walked away with a partial bursary. 

On Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 March, Janine Purchase (our new Drama teacher) hosted two theatre make-up workshops.  Our Grade 11 subject dancers, Sinead Lewis and Mukhove Monyai had great delight in terrifying the dance teachers by arriving at class with terrible “wounds”.

Second break on Friday 13th, welcomed the dance enrichment to the Junior quad for an exuberant Flashmob choreographed in modernized Spanish style!  It was an instant success and before long many of the watching College pupils were joining in!

Saturday 14 March signaled the schools Open Day which coincided with the SAW week objectives.  A massive sports derby was held in conjunction with the Creative Arts final SAW day.  In the quads, the creative arts proudly displayed tables with relevant information for new and current parents, while the music department kept things lively.

In the Southdowns College Arena, the Drama and Dance departments were hosting a double whammy!  Guest teachers / artists, Nicola Haskins and Bailey Snyman (Matchbox Theatre Collective and Gold Ovation winners) presented a Physical Theatre workshop to the Drama students followed by an exciting Contemporary workshop for the College dancers.

It was an inspiring week that highlighted the Creative Art teams efforts to lead Southdowns College to the forefront of education in the arts.

30 MARCH:  Dance Assembly

All the Grade 9, 10 and 11 Subject choice dance students worked tirelessly with 15 dance enrichment Grade 11 boys to put together a musical theatre piece from the Musical masterpiece, “Cabaret”.  The piece gave the students an opportunity to learn more corps / group work as well as the all-important pas de deux skills necessary for any dancer. (Of course, it could also help that line out in rugby!!!)

Once again, the dancers all enjoyed every second of their time on stage!

02 APRIL:  Easter Assembly

Deputy Principal, Corne van der Walt requested that the Dance department perform a piece for the special Easter Assembly held prior to the Easter weekend.  The dancers showed their versatility by performing a neo-classical trio that lent itself to peaceful, beautiful and serene moods.

07 – 10 APRIL:  Royal Academy of Dance Pre-exam course (Junior Grades)

The Southdowns Dance Academy is hosting a pre-exam course during this week in which RAD tutor Hayley Pienaar will put the young Preparatory dancers under the microscope.  71 Southdowns students from Grade 1 – Grade 7 will be taking part in this weeks event.

13 – 16 APRIL:  Royal Academy of Dance Pre-exam course (Vocational Grades)

In the final week before the close of a very busy term, the Southdowns Dance Academy is hosting a pre-exam vocational course with RAD international examiner, Rene Callis.  35 Southdowns students from Grade 7 – Grade 12 will take part in this intense course.

In other dance related news, some College and Academy dancers took part in the World Cup auditions.  Mukhove Monyai has been promoted to the second round and newcomer to the College, Lydia Sejake (from the Ann Campbell Academy as well as Southdowns Dance Academy) received a solid 4th place, a real honour for this young Grade 8.

“Southdowns, the place to be!!”  This phrase was coined by 2013 College prefect and dancer, Nadia Kieweg.  The Southdowns Dance Department and Dance Academy hope to keep this motto going throughout 2015 and into the future.

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