THE MATHIS STORY
Lynda Mathis established Mathis School of Dancing in 1960 with six students in a small church in Parkdale.
Her philosophy for the Mathis School of Dancing was simple - to pass on to students her love and passion for dance and an appreciation of the many styles of dance and theatre performance.
Fifty-five years on and the school, now based in Braeside, has become one of Melbourne’s leading dance schools, excelling in Cecchetti ballet exams, competitions and performance work under the guidance of Lynda’s daughter, Jen Barfoot.
JEN BARFOOT - DIRECTOR
Having grown up within the Mathis dance family, it was a natural progression for Jen to take over running the business and she has now been the director of the school for eight years. Continuing to share her mother’s philosophy will always underpin the values and direction of the school.
2016 sees the school evolve to become Mathis Dance Studios. With a new, modern look, the school will uphold its strong benchmark of a fun, safe environment where friendships are made and provide future generations the true joy of dance.
Our teachers, are all qualified with accredited teaching associations and institutions. Staff are carefully selected based on their skills, expertise, education and experience.
We are proud to provide our students with teaching staff that are clearly passionate about dance education and who love fostering creativity and a love of dance in their students.
SAMMIE BARKER - DANCE OPERATIONS MANAGER
- Diploma of Dance Performance – Australian Conservatoire of Ballet
- Licentiate- L.C.B.A- C.I.C.B Cecchetti Ballet- Currently Studying Licentiate Diploma
- Cert 4 in Frontline management
- Cert 4 in Business Administration
I can’t remember not dancing! When you find something you love, you wake up each day grateful you get to do what you love. For me dance is my absolute love. My career highlight was performing in Swan Lake with the Australian Conservatoire.
I have a strong appreciation for the Cecchetti ballet method and also love exploring innovative approaches to my contemporary teaching. They are mutually beneficial in creating a whole dancer.
As the studio grows, so too does my passion to deliver quality dance tuition. I am committed to making all of my classes inspiring, creative and productive. When our little Angelina Ballerina students come in, I can’t help but impart my love for dance onto them. I’ve seen the benefits, both socially, emotionally and physically. If I can inspire my students enough to continue dancing through their teens and into adulthood, then I feel I’ve achieved something truly remarkable.
FAYE JOHNSON - HEAD OF CECCHETTI BALLET
- Dance Fellow and Life Member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (London)
- FISTD Fellow and Life Member of the Cecchetti Ballet Australia
- Diploma of Arts (Dance)
- VAC Cecchetti Ballet Examiner
- VCE Dance and VCE VET Teaching Accreditation with the Royal Academy of Dancing
- Member of the VIT
With over forty years experience teaching dance in both educational institutions and in the private sector, I am proud to be involved in the ongoing development of dance education. I take enormous pride in training students to present for VCE and VET dance examinations, with many of my students gaining Premier’s Awards each year and on many occasions dux of the State. My role as an examiner supports my teaching endeavors to help produce quality dance tuition and instil a deep love for the art form in all those I teach.
SALLY PETERSON - DANCE QUALITY MANAGER
- TAAD Jazz Teaching Diploma (Hons)
- Bartuccio Cert 3 in Dance and Musical Comedy
- A.C.B.A – C.I.C.B Cecchetti Ballet
- A (Dip) - C.B.A Cert 4 in Dance Teaching and Management
I feel honoured to be part of the teaching team at Mathis Dance Studios having been a little dancer here myself 30 years ago! The school gave me opportunities to be nurtured and develop my skills, all the while having an amazing dance experience every time I went into class.
It is my own Mathis experience that drives me to offer that to my own students. I strive to give them every opportunity to be their very best and guide them along the way. That is what Lynda Mathis gave me.
This all led me to a dance teaching career now spanning 15 years and a professional dance career as a cheerleader for Melbourne Storm and performing for the Victorian Pops Orchestra and singers, Joanne and Demi Hines. I have also appeared in music video clips, at corporate entertainment and media launches for Cirque Du Soleii, L'Oreal Paris, BMW and Qantas to name a few.
- Company Director of Teachers of Australian Academy of Dance
- Master TAAD Society Examiner of Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Theatrical Dance
- AOTD Jazz Diploma (Honours) Dance Factory original syllabus
- TAAD Tap Diploma (Honours)
- Associate Diploma Cecchetti Classical Ballet – Cert 4 workplace Training and Assessment
- Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management – Box Hill TAFE
I have been fortunate to begin my training with Lynda Mathis and the vast number of teachers she employed to maintain and develop a high standard within her school.
After winning a scholarship I continued my studies at The Dance Factory learning from top leading professionals in the entertainment industry and attended classes from leading choreographers and teachers around Melbourne and Sydney, which led to a 20 year long performance career in major musicals around the globe, convention and regular television appearances. I am only one of a long list of performers to have developed from Lynda’s nurturing.
I’ve taught at many schools and seen a lot of my students continue into teaching professionals or as career dancers and I’m pleased to say some still pop in to do an occasional “Ann-Marie class”. A highlight of my teaching career has been working alongside my friend and Mentor Lynda Mathis.
I’m passionate about dance and passing on my knowledge to aspiring future artists. I’m known for being patient and designing different learning methodologies for each individual. Every student has something different to offer and I pride myself on discovering their hidden strengths, developing confidence and a sense of fulfilment.
- VCE Dance 2010
- Full Time Dance Program (1 year) – Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance
- Bachelor of Teaching (Deakin University) – currently studying
- Advanced 2 Cecchetti Ballet- Currently Studying
- Associate Cecchetti Ballet- Currently Studying
- Transit Dance- Cert 4 in Dance Teaching and Management
I’ve been teaching the Angelina Ballerina program at Mathis for two years and absolutely love seeing the excitement in a child’s face when they accomplish something new. It honestly is just pure joy to be introducing and imparting a love of dance to my little ones.
I myself, began dancing at 3 years old and haven’t stopped! I moved to Mathis in 2009 and undertook training in all dance styles including the VCE program. Without a doubt, my dance performance highlights include performing alongside Guy Sebastian at the Australian Open Kids tennis day in 2012 and as part of the first Mathis Dance team to attend the World Championships in Florida in 2015.
LEIGH JAY BOOTH
- Bachelor of Arts (Musical Theatre) – Ballarat University
- Elite Full Time Dance Program (2 years) – Robert Sturrock Industry Dance Company
Teaching for me is the reward in seeing the hard work my students put in to reach their goals and guiding them to find what it is they love in dance and growing that into their own individual style.
I began my dance training at age four and knew then just how much passion I had for dance and theatrical performance. Through my teen years I took on an assistant teaching role and on graduation, began teaching my own classes across a number of genres, including Tap, Musical Theatre, Commercial Jazz, Song and Dance, Contemporary and Vegas-style Follie routines. Under the training guidance of industry’s best including Robert Sturrock, Mandy Savickas, Dana Jolly and Amanda Colliver, I am committed to continually evolving my choreography and teaching skills to give my students every opportunity to be the best version of themselves.
My career as choreographer and dancer has led me to performing alongside Rhonda Burchmore, James Varnish, Au Dray, Olivia Newton-John, Silvie Paladino, Kelley Abbey and Chris Ashley, to name just a few. My recent lead role in “Give my Regards to Broady” as part of the Theatreworks musical program has received positive reviews which reinforces I must be doing something all right!
- Qualified Childcare Worker
- Advanced 2 Cecchetti Ballet - Currently Studying
When I put my first pair of ballet and tap shoes on when I began dancing at Mathis at the tender age of 5, there was a spark that ignited a lifelong passion to dance.
My love of children and dancing is key to my success as a teacher. I truly believe that all happy people are confident people and that is what I want most for my students.
I feel inspired when surrounded by little people, watching them develop their skills and confidence. Teaching at Mathis Dance Studios allows me to share my love for dance, which I hope in turn, develops into a lifelong passion for them also.
Seeing my little Angelina Ballerinas each week is the most fulfilling part of my teaching, along with my Beginner Tap and Jazz students.
- Intermediate Cecchetti Ballet
- Cert 4 in Business Administration and Frontline Management
- Cert 4 in Dance Teaching and Management
Mathis has been my home for over 20 years. The staff and students have become like my second family. Working in an environment where we all have a common goal is not only enjoyable, but beneficial. As teachers, we are constantly striving to extend our students whilst instilling a love and enjoyment of dance.
As a business, we focus on customer service to ensure every experience our students and parents have is a positive one.
I love coaching Diamonds and seeing the look of achievement and happiness when they accomplish amazing results. Knowing I have helped them in fulfilling their dreams by attending Worlds in 2015 is something I will never forget.
I work across many touch points of our school, including choreography, operations management, performance directing, stage management and costume design.
When I was younger I had no desire to dance, but then my mother took me to my first class and I haven’t stopped dancing since. There’s only one thing I like more than dancing and that is teaching dance. Mathis allows me to pass my knowledge I’ve gained through my experiences onto my students. One of the best feelings is to see your students take on what you’ve taught and to see the improvement.
In my first year of professional training, I was asked to perform and choreograph for Channel 9 on the Footy Show Grand Final Revue, and at industry events. I hope as I gain more experiences over the years, I’m able to impart my expertise onto my students.
NANCY CHAPMAN (COSTUME DIRECTOR)
I began as a dance mum here at Mathis, sewing and sequinning well into the night! I took on the role as Costume Director (aka Jack of all Trades) and take great pride in the creative process to ensure our students look amazing on stage.
There is something really magical about a costume. It brings the performance to life and helps our students get into character. I get a real buzz from seeing it all come together! From exams to competitions, events, cabarets and concerts, I am responsible for ensuring every student has the right costume and headpiece.
Mathis Dance Studios is such a warm and friendly group to be part of and despite the stressful nature of pulling together so many costumes for so many students, nothing beats the excitement when a new costume parcel arrives!