Dance Teachers

Thanks for taking the time to check out our team it gives me great pleasure to introduce them to you. Never have I had such a strong teaching team. I have always maintained as the Danceman, a personal and professional passion and energy for dance - I am now privileged to have a team who do the same, proven through the hours and hours they have clocked up at our studios, in the community, nationally and internationally, learning and teaching dance.


On the dance floor: 

Chantelle Christensen

Chantelle is proud to be on the Dean McKerras teaching team. She has been teaching for over twenty years, ballet, technique, jazz , dance dynamics for life and pre-school classes. Chantelles love of dance began as a five year old when she stepped into her first ballet class. RAD ballet trained up to Advanced, at 16 she was awarded a scholarship to attend a fulltime dance school in Brisbane. After almost two years studying all aspects of dance including teacher training Chantelle successfully auditioned for Sydney based company Dance Encore Productions and danced with them for five years touring Australia, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.    After hanging up her professional dance shoes she returned to New Zealand and has continued to share her love, passion and knowledge of dance while raising a family. Chantelle loves being a member of an inspiring, motivated team and looks forward to growing the love of DANCE in the Manawatu.

We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams...Albert Einstein

Samantha Rasmussen

Samantha (Sammy) goes to Palmerston North Girls High school and dances with Elite Diversity dance group.   She has been loving dance since she was three starting with ballet, jazz and then moving on to hip hop where she found her passion.   Sammy was lucky enough last year to travel to America with the Dean Mckerras' School of Dance L.A Dance Tour with seventy others. This tour really inspired her, confirming that dancing will be a life-long passion and she now knows she wants to share her knowledge with others.   She is proud to have been given the opportunity to teach and is going to take massive steps towards helping others along their journey to becoming amazing dancers.   Sammy wants to make sure everyone has fun, and for them to be able to be proud of their dancing achievements.  She is excited to continue dancing herself and is thrilled to be learning along-side people she has only just met.  Sammy is eager to see where dance leads her in the future.

Emma Deakin

Emma started dancing at Dean McKerras School of Dance at the age of three and has picked up a range of genres along the way - ballet, hip hop, tap and her two favourites jazz and contemporary. She has been representing Dean Mckerras School of Dance in competitions for the past five years with groups, solos, duos and trios. Emma studied RAD ballet at Maureen Ax School of Dance from 2008-2013. She had the amazing opportunity to travel to LA in 2014 and again in 2017 with our studio tours- each time discovering where dance could lead her. Emma is currently studying dance at PNGHS, representing her school at DanceNZMade competitions and is a principal Dancer in PNBHS/PNGHS production 'Anything Goes" 2018. Emma sat the IDTA Intermediate and Advanced 1 Ballet exams and passed with Distinction and has also gotten three NZ Champion DanceNZMade awards for Jazz and Contemporary Performance Level exams. Recipient of a studio scholarship in 2014 she featured again in 2017 presentations receiving the ‘Heart of the Studio' award. Dancing has always been a huge passion for Emma and she loves being able to help students improve their technique and see them grow in their dancing, showing that hard work really pays off. 

Grace Waterland

Grace has been dancing with Dean since she was three years old. She is passionate and loves to learn, and is so excited to be a part of the teaching team. Grace has studied jazz, contemporary, tap and ballet. In 2015 she was fortunate enough to win a scholarship which opened up many opportunities for her dancing. Grace has been competing with the DMSOD for five years in solos, duos and troupes. She was awarded a best dancer award at Freyberg High School, and has been a part of the dance academy in all her schools. In 2017 Grace travelled to LA with the Dean Mckerras School of Dance to see where dancing could take her and to learn as much as she could. And she did! Dancing is her everything and she loves being a part of the studio, and being able to teach other students! 

Diego Ramos

Diego has been dancing since he was five years old. He loves dancing and is excited to teach others. Diego’s passion is hip hop but he also does jazz, tap and has done ballet and musical theatre too. He has done a lot of competitive dancing (solos, duos, trios and groups) since 2013 and has won many awards. Diego holds his dance assessment certificates up till now. He has hit the stage in shows such as Oliver, A Chorus Line and his school production “Down the Rabbit hole”. Diego will be working hard with his students but also looks forward to having some fun on the way, he will be finding their strengths and weaknesses and looks forward to helping them through it. Diego looks forward to sometimes throwing a little more challenging routines their way, to push them and have them use the best of their abilities.

Ruby Jamieson

Ruby Jamieson is both a dancer and a teacher with a never ending supply of energy. Her passion for dance began at a very young age. She joined Dean's teaching team 6 years ago, and has loved every minute of it since. Ruby loves dancing and teaching all genres of the art form, although her heart truly belongs with Hip Hop, Urban Tap, and Jazz Funk (commercial) culture.

Dancing with Dean has presented Ruby with many amazing opportunities over the years. Alongside other teachers, Ruby created the Dance NZ Made Hip Hop Syllabus that her students have learnt, and will continue to learn, in class. Ruby has been representing DMSoD at dance competitions for many years, as she started as a young’n competing herself, and now helps add trophies to the studios growing collection, by choreographing solos/duos and group dances. She has also been fortunate enough to travel both nationally and internationally, attending dance workshops in places such as Los Angeles (twice), and Australia. 

As a younger dancer, Ruby fell in love with watching musicals performed live. This encouraged her to successfully audition for many shows, including Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Cats, Rock of Ages and be a part of a local Burlesque company.

Ruby lives, loves and breathes dance. She aims for every student to learn and grow their dance skills in a fun and energetic environment. She pushes each dancer to be the best they can be, and always ensures they walk out with a smile on their face. Ruby just LOVES to dance, and she hopes that every dancer she’s lucky to teach, LOVE it too!

Cara Hesselin

Cara has belonged to the Dean McKerras School of Dance for over 25 years and credits the studio for her well known "energetic" style. Trained in jazz and hip hop, Cara has over ten years teaching experience and enjoys working with all ages. A self-proclaimed performing addict, she has been in musicals including CATS, Mamma Mia, Beauty and the Beast, and Hairspray; taught workshops around the country; and danced at a number of corporate events. Cara adores that the studio encourages dancers of all abilities to love dance and has made friends for life through it.

Alex Hughes

Alex Hughes has danced with Dean for 15 years, and has been part of the teaching team for 6 years. Specialising in Hip Hop and Jazz Styles, she also has a passion for musical theatre. She is the resident choreographer for the PNBHS/PNGHS annual shows, and has performed in the Abbey Musical Theatre shows Hairspray (2013), Cats (2016), and Rock of Ages (2017).

Dancing for Dean has given her opportunities to travel and teach or participate in workshops internationally. For example Sydney, Australia (2012) to Brent Street for workshops, and Los Angeles, USA (2014) for workshops at world class dance schools such as IDA Hollywood, Millennium Dance Complex, and The Edge. Alongside other dancers and teachers she took workshops at Disneyland in Anaheim, and performed onstage at California Adventure Park.

Along with other teachers, Alex helped create the Dance NZ Made Hip Hop Syllabus that her students will be learning, and in 2016 she travelled with Dean to Wanaka, NZ to teach workshops for students interested in learning the syllabus work.

She graduated Girl High in 2015 where she had the role of dance prefect, and  is currently studying a Bachelor of Accountancy at Massey University. Her electric energy will show through her students and she loves seeing them share her passion and love for dance.

Kate Martin

Kate is an experienced and qualified dance teacher with 13 years of teaching experience.  She now runs her own dance school in Levin with a growing roll of 180 students. She first trained in Palmerston North with Michelle Robinson Dance Studio from the age of 7 to 18 training in ISTD and IDTA Ballet and Modern Dance.  Kate represented Manawatu for PACANZ in 1999 and in the same year gained the highest mark for IDTA Advanced 2 Ballet. She holds a Diploma in Performing Arts from Whiteria in Wellington majoring in Commercial Dance where she studied Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre and Contemporary Dance full time for 2 years under the tuition of Leigh Evans and Ann Gare and then a Contemporary Dance Degree from Unitec in Auckland under the tuition of Micheal Parmenter. She also holds the ISTD Intermediate jazz qualification and American Jazz Advanced one and two qualification. In between extensive dance studies Kate worked for Camp America in New York teaching dance and being a high ropes course instructor and also taught the YMCA gymnastics program for 2 years in Palmerston North.  She has spent the last 14 years performing locally and all around New Zealand.

As well as many dance recitals, music videos, corporate events and freelance contemporary dance performances, her highlights include touring a piece choreographed by Michael Parameter. dancing for WOW(World of Wearable Arts), staring as Miss Martini in Ian Harman’s Boom Boom Room and loved being a Hurricanes Cheerleader.  Kate also gained overseas professional dance work in Spain and China.  Kate is now the busy Mum of 2 boys as well as the Director of her own dance school Kate Martin Dance and enjoys every second of it. Teaching dance is a dream Job! I love every second of it and want my students to make every class count, every step, every beat!

Hannah Woolley

Hannah began dancing when she was 3 years old moving to Dean McKerras at the age of 8. Hannah has a huge love for dance and the stage! Since then Hannah has studied Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop and a little bit of Ballet! Hannah has represented Dean McKerras School of dance in competitions for 5 years now including a few duos!  Hannah studied dance at Freyberg High School and had the role of “specialist dancer” in the production ‘Grease’ in 2016. Hannah was also part of the production “A chorus line” at the Regent on Broadway in 2017 and loved having the opportunity to be part of a bigger production.  Hannah has also been a part of the dance academies at all of her schools.  Hannah had the amazing opportunity to travel to LA with the Dean McKerras School of dance in 2017 and since then has really become even more passionate about the dance and performing industry!! Hannah is super excited to join the teaching team and help develop her students passion and love for dance! 

Charlotte Gilmour

Charlotte has danced since she could walk! She trained in her home town of Pahiatua before travelling weekly to Maureen Ax School of Dance where she gained her Advanced 1 in RAD Ballet and Solo Seal in NZAMD Jazz.

Charlotte was offered a full scholarship to Village Nation Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia and enjoyed a window into full time dance training. Charlotte was unable to complete her year but has the option to return to complete the scholarship. In the meantime she is enjoying the opportunity the Manawatu and other Regions are giving her as a free lance teacher / choreographer.
Charlotte has competed in dance competitions all around New Zealand including receiving three nominations to the National Young Performer Of The Year Awards, where she was successful enough to get into the semifinals in 2015.

Charlotte was also nominated for the NZAMD scholarship awards 3 years in a row, 2015-2017 and she made it into the finals in
2015 and 2017.

In February 2018 Charlotte performed with Village Nation on ‘The Voice Australia’, in the Judges Performance featuring Joe Jonas and Kelly Rowland. She was also a dancer for the ‘SBS World Cup football launch’, in March. Charlotte has just been a part of the live filming of a new dance show yet to air in Australia on Channel 7.

Charlotte’s been choreographing competition solos and assisting classes since 2016 and absolutely loves it. She hopes one day she can inspire kids as much as her teachers have inspired her.

Charlotte feels very privileged to be teaching and is so excited to see what 2019 brings!

And as for myself,


Dean Mckerras- Diploma of Teaching, Bachelor of Education, a lifetime of dance!

A passion and energy for dance makes this Danceman unique.

The Dean Mckerras School of Dance has 450 students passing through its doors each week- doors to the largest studio complex Palmie has to offer. For the past twenty five plus years Dean has contracted  himself out to schools with his Dance in Education programme, which he has shared with over 60,000 school children.

A love of Musical Theatre has seen him touring, producing, directing and /or choreographing shows such as Rocky Horror Show, Joseph, Chess, Chicago, 42nd Street,  Beauty & the Beast and many more, working with stars such as Michael Barrymore, Richard Long, Tina Cross and Jackie Clark.

Dean toured professionally  with the 1995 cast of Cats playing Tumblebrutus and Mungojerrie and has since Directed and Choreographed his all time favourite show for Palmerston North,  Rotorua and Whakatane. He is enjoying repeat visits to these regions with Mamma Mia and now the wonderful Mary Poppins.

Dean is creator and director of  DanceNZmade - New Zealand's own Interschool and Interstudio workshop and competition  events, which also offers 'Performance, Hip Hop and Contemporary Levels' - a performance based syllabii used by studios around the country and overseas.

Dean's greatest production is his family thanks to an international romantic storyline that rivals all the great musical theatre plots and sees him marry Liette with the arrival of the very handsome Sam and Benjamin and the gorgeous Princess Amelia in the second act!


Dean believes two things.

1. Nothing is possible without a loving and supportive family.

2. Celebrating and encouraging the arts in any form is one of life's pleasures!