Principal Charis O'Connor A.I.S.T.D

Charis O’Connor is a professionally trained dancer, acrobat and aerialist graduating from Laine Theatre Arts, London and The Royal Ballet School Senior Associates. She completed her Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) Modern Dance teachers’ qualification in 2008, and is Acrobatic Arts certified from 2017. Charis also taught at Laine Theatre Arts, London in 2015-2016.

On graduating, Charis worked on board Norwegian Cruise Lines as an aerialist and dancer before moving to Germany to perform. She has worked extensively in London’s West End, across the UK and Europe in Musical Theatre shows, dance shows and TV. She has also cast and choreographed full dance shows for Thomson Holidays.

Some of Charis’ credits include:

Sinatra: The Man and his Music at the London Palladium, WEST END London in 2015
Disney’s Tarzan the Musical as Assistant Flight Captain, in Hamburg & Stuttgart, Germany in 2011-2014
An Evening with Kenn Dodd at the London Palladium, London
The West End Experience UK Tour
CBBC TV show MI High, SkyTV Got To Dance, acrobat for the BMW/London Olympic Campaign

Charis moved to New Zealand from the UK in May 2016 and has settled in Waikanae with her partner. Charis loves to teach and watch the students develop in confidence and ability over time, giving them the option to pursue a career in the industry if they so wish. She is currently a dance tutor at Whitireia New Zealand in Wellington, teaching degree students who will go on to a career in the performance industry. Charis has been teaching students, aged from as young as 2 years old, for 10 years at various dance schools and kindergartens throughout NZ and the UK.

She adjudicates for dance competitions around New Zealand and gives workshops regularly. She also owns a small business, Pumpkin Princess Parties, setup to bring princesses to life for children.

After a varied professional performing and teaching career to date, Charis is thrilled to be living in Waikanae and owning a dance school to pass her experience on to the children and community of the Kapiti Coast.

Sarah Buswell

Sarah was born in Birmingham, England and moved to New Zealand at the age of 10. Sarah started dancing at the age of 3 and is trained in Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip hop, Commercial, Jazz and Tap. At the age of 8, Sarah was successfully placed In the top 20 of the Junior National Scholarships, UK and came third in the AAD National competition. She has danced in many crews/ troupes performing in various competitions around England and New Zealand.

Sarah completed her Diploma in Commercial Dance graduating from Whitireia Performance Centre, Wellington in 2017. Sarah went overseas to work straight after graduating, dancing on Costa Cruises and on a few contracts at a luxury resort in Greece, also as dance captain.

Sarah is very happy to be back in New Zealand and loves sharing her knowledge, passion and experience to the next generation of young dancers and performers. She enjoys watching our students grow and seeing them shine!

Rebecca Chisholm

Dance has played a huge role in Rebecca’s life since she began ballet classes at the age of 5. Rebecca went on to train for many years in various dance forms including jazz, contemporary and hip hop, however her focus and number one passion has always been ballet. Rebecca won a scholarship to attend classes at the New Zealand School of Dance for several years. She trained in RAD completing vocational exams to an advanced level. Rebecca is a recipient of numerous dance awards including several from the NZSD and Alaina Haines Memorial Scholarship.

Rebecca completed her teaching degree and teaches dance and drama to all levels of the curriculum. Rebecca has taught dance at Tawa Intermediate, Chilton St James Dance Centre, and currently heads up the Performing Arts Department at Paekakariki School, choreographing dance productions for local events and shows.

Rebecca is thrilled to be taking on the ballet teacher position at COTA and can’t wait to get to know her students to achieve great things. Rebecca loves teaching dance and enjoys helping young people upskill, grow in passion, confidence and express themselves through the arts.