Dance Teachers

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Alex Archer

Alex Archer, formerly Alexandra Fitzgerald of Kinsale, is herself a former pupil of Joan Denise Moriarty, having begun classes at the age of 5 in Bandon, and worked her way to graduating from the school at Emmet Place, with Honours. During this period she performed many parts with the Cork Ballet Company in the Opera House, beginning with Clara in the 1973 production of The Nutcracker, (which also travelled to the Gaiety Theatre), and ending her time there as one of the Jewel Fairy soloists in The Sleeping Beauty of 1979, when she was awarded the trophy for Student of the Year.

A career as a performer was not on the cards however, and Alex went on to university, where she immediately began teaching ballet to her fellow-students at Trinity College, while continuing her own dance practice. This led to her husband’s starting a business a few years later – The Dublin Dance Centre – and eventually Digges Lane Rehearsal Studios, where big stars such as Nureyev practised, and where the first-ever performance of Riverdance was rehearsed. It was here that Alex had her first experience of teaching young children, which is still what she loves to do best, having continued to teach after moving back to Cork in the mid-eighties, and even during her years in Africa, bringing the classical ballets she loved as a child to a whole new audience in Kenya.

Alex is now happy to be back in Ireland, teaching at the JDM School of Dance

 The studio to me is about more than just dance. It is a community and a place for everyone to just be who they are and I am very glad to be part of it. ” 

Lena Stawicka-O’Connor

Lena Stawicka-O’Connor, MA, is a professional dancer, choreographer and higher-level dance teacher. Passionate about dance from a young age Lena first trained as a ballroom dancer in Poland where she competed at national level, and later as an adult trained at both CSN Diploma in Dance course in Ireland and Renaissance Arts Conservatoire in the UK. She is a qualified modern jazz teacher with the International Dance Teachers’ Association (IDTA), and has recently completed her Master’s Degree Professional Practice: Dance Technique Pedagogy.

Lena has spent over 10 years performing all over the world working with top leading specialists from the stage ,theatre and music industry. Some credits include ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, ‘Latin Fusion Show’ and working with both the ‘Paris C’show’ and ‘Afroarimba’ production companies onboard luxury cruise liners. During her career Lena danced professionally participating in challenging versatile theatre shows both in ensemble and feature roles as well as production manager and dance captain roles.

Lena has been teaching dance for many years and is a frequent guest lecturer at the Diploma in Dance course at College of Further Education in Cork and the BA in Musical Theatre at Munster Technological University, teaching technical jazz, ballet and stage choreography among others.

As an active industry professional Lena takes inspiration from current trends and styles and loves choreographing and exploring all dance styles. Her recent work includes ‘Mama Mia the Musical’ and ‘Reeling in the 80s’. Lena also choreographes for the annual Graduation Performance at the Diploma in Dance course. Her choreography has been showcased in the Opera House, Everyman Palace and the Firkin Crane Theatres in Cork.

Lena continues to develop in her professional practice and believes in constantly upskilling in order to be the best teacher and choreographer for her students.

Ciara Fitzgerald

 Ciara grew up in Deerpark in Cork City and has been dancing since the age of three, competing in national competitions and performing in many professional productions. Ciara studied Performing Arts in Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, here she had the amazing opportunity to dance and tour with Cork City Ballet.

She then went on to further her education in Inchicore College Dublin, here she studied Dance Education and received Advanced 1 modern, and her DDI (Diploma in Dance Instruction).

Ciara began teaching in Cork City 2010 then spent a few years teaching in London returning to her native city in 2015 where she now teaches Ballet, Tap & Modern inspiring a whole new generation of dancers. Ciara is engaged to be married to Richard Bollard and still lives in Deerpark.

” Dancing for me is all about the kids, to see then develop and bloom. To be a small part of their lives gives me great joy and purpose”


“Genius is another word for magic and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable”-Margot Fonteyn

“Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike.”-Margot Fonteyn

Gabrielle Willis 

 Gabrielle Willis, a lifelong dancer and arts enthusiast, graduated with honors from Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in Dance Performance. While in college, she was a member of Marymount’s dance company and performed works by Twyla Tharp, Pascal Rioult, Jessica Lang, and Jenn Freeman – amongst others. Since graduation, Gabrielle has performed with companies such as Richard Move’s MoveOpolis!, Martha Graham’s second company – Graham 2, CRDANCE, and Jacqulyn Buglisi’s Buglisi Dance Theatre. Informed by her experiences as a dancer and manager, Gabrielle has also been working in the administrative side of the arts. She recently had the pleasure of curating two benefit performances, highlighting everything from Ballet to Bharatanatyam, in an effort to raise money and awareness for the ongoing humanitarian work in Ukraine. Additionally, Gabrielle worked as a part of the administrative team for the yearly “Table of Silence” at Lincoln Center in NYC – a ritual for peace performed by 100 dancers in commemoration of the lives lost on 9/11. Gabrielle hopes to continue exploring the connection between movement and the human condition as she earns her MA in Arts Management and Creative Producing from UCC. She plans to promote accessibility and activism in the arts and to facilitate creative processes, performances, and communities that highlight the diverse voices of artists around the world.

Dance is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire, made legal by music.Genius is another word for magic and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable” 

George Bernard Shaw

Bhavana Anand 

Bhavana Anand has just moved to Cork with her husband. She is a professional Indian Classical dancer who has performed in over 1850 shows in over 15 years.

She has a Masters Degree in Indian Tradional Dance Bharatanatyam and a senior degree in Kuchipudi another Indian classical dance form. She was a classical dance teacher in the renowned Rashtrothana Vidya Kendra school . She also had her own dance school. We welcome Bhavana to our school where she will teach performance dance for Diwali.

It will be amazing experience for the girls to learn from Bhavana.

❤ She will also be starting Indian dance classes in the studio.

Bharatanatyam, also known as the mother of all other classical dance styles, is considered as the oldest dance forms in the country India that originated from the temple dancers in Tamil Nadu. The dance is a pure amalgam of expressions, music, beat and rhythm

Karena Walsh

 Dance has been a part of my life from a very early age. My parents are very creative, they have always supported and encouraged me. My early days were began with Irish dancing. We had amazing teachers and got to take part in many Feis all over Ireland. I love the routine of training, learning new skills, making friends and competing.

My Great Aunt was Breda Quinn who was Principle of the Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance and she encouraged me to take up Ballet too. I started my ballet classes in Wilton and moved to the Studio as I got older.

Surrounded by so much history and with exceptional teachers I experienced lots different dance styles. Where a love of creating and performing was encouraged.

I love working with children and I have trained as a Special Needs Assistant. My most recent qualification is from the ADTA where I am a qualified ACRO dance teacher.

Recently I have choreographed and created videos for many events such as St Patrick’s Day Festival, Cru na Nog. Along with raising awareness for Down syndrome Cork and Scoliosis.

It is so exciting to be part of the next generation to keep the legacy of Joan Denise Moriarty and Breda Quinn alive.

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. And I know if I can make you smile by jumping over a couple of couches or running through a rainstorm, then I’ll be very glad to be a song and dance man.”

Gene Kelly

Laura Keane

 My name is Laura, I am a hiphop/commercial/heels dancer and choreographer for the past 17 years. I began my dance career in Cork, where I choreographed and danced for a hiphop crew in the city center, doing stage performances, street shows and dance videos throughout Ireland. I was choreographer of the UCC dance club advanced hiphop class for the three years that I was in college and went on to win first place at intervarsities with my crew in my final year. I then moved to Dublin and trained up there for 5 years, gaining experience of all different genres of hiphop from a huge number of top tier teachers. Now, I run my own classes all over Cork city, including an Adult commercial class where I teach hip hop, commercial and heels. I also teach for various dance schools, and run a Crew with whom I create show pieces and competitive pieces for competitions around the country. I strive to share my experience in dance through classes that are confidence boosting, supportive, challenging, high energy and all-round enjoyable and uplifting! 

” Dance is the hidden language of the soul.ance man.”

Martha Graham

Mary Gemma McCarthy

 Mary trained at the Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance and progressed to the Cork Ballet Company performing in their productions at the Cork Opera House, and the Gaiety and Abbey theatres in Dublin.

She took her teaching examinations in the UK with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, Classical Ballet faculty.

She has successfully prepared and entered many students for ISTD Grade and vocational examinations.

The ISTD classical ballet syllabus is designed to provide a structured, progressive and safe approach to dance education allowing students to build their skills and confidence over time.

Mary enjoys teaching examination students, knowing they tend to work harder and enjoy classes with a challenge in view.

” Music and dance are two arts that have a close relationship.”


Marek Ozog

Marek is originally from Krakow in Poland. His love of Ballroom and Latin American Dance started at the age of six, when he joined his first Ballroom class. From then, Marek pursued Ballroom Dancing at a competitive level, and throughout the years he has danced and won many tournaments both nationally and internationally. In 2012, Marek moved to Ireland, and opened his own Ballroom and Latin American Dance School here in Cork in 2016 – Cork DanceSport Academy, where he trains students at both a social and competitive level. He is a qualified adjudicator and dance teacher under the DanceSport Federation of Ireland and the United Kingdom Alliance (UKA). In 2018, Marek organised the very first “City of Cork DanceSport Festival” in Corks City Hall, which gave fantastic exposure to the art of dance to the people of Cork and the South of Ireland – even the president of Ireland – Mr. Michael D. Higgins dropped on to see the dancing taking place on the day! He also works a dance teacher and choreographer in Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance in Cork, coaching kids, teens, and adults in the different techniques of dance.

” I do everything the man does, only backwards and in high heels! “

Ginger Rogers

Sarah Burke Hochstedler

Sarah is a graduate of UCC, obtaining a Master’s degree in Drama and Theatre, BMus and BA in Music and English. Having toured the US, Canada and Australia with Celtic Woman, Sarah returned to Cork in 2013 and is now a vocal coach at Cork’s leading vocal tuition centre, Voiceworks Studio.

Sarah has featured in musicals and pantomimes at Cork Opera House and various theatres around Ireland, most notably as the lead in Cinderella and Babes in the Wood. She also appeared in many Opera productions, including a tour of France with Co-Opera Ireland’s production of Madame Butterfly. Recording credits include Tommy Fleming’s DVD, The Journey Home and as a member of the female chamber choir, Seraphim, on Twelve Songs for Seraphim and Seraphim Live at the Diseart. With Seraphim, Sarah toured Japan and has also sang with The Celtic Tenors and Rebecca Storm.

Sarah also worked as an actress in TV productions and short films. She completed piano and singing exams with Royal Irish Academy of Music and Victoria College, London and having trained with the Montforts, she completed LAMDA exams.

“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” — Samuel Beckett

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Phone (021) 450 4689
Mobile (085) 7848018
Locations: The Studio
40 Lower John Street T23 P522
Ballincollig Studio: 
Scoil Mhuire139 Pine Walk, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, P31 N265
Riverstown Studio:
St Joseph’s National School 41, 51 St Josephs View, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork, T45 V297
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Gaelscoil Ui Riada Cardinal Way, Bishopstown, Cork T12 D596