Industry experts with over 100 years of teaching experience

The College Faculty

Central to the College of Dances’ ethos of being the centre of excellence for dance training in Ireland, is building a teaching faculty that is exceptional. Our faculty are all industry experts with extensive professional performance careers with first-class choreographic standards and teaching pedigree. Our teachers have trained at international centres of excellence and have over 100 years of combined teaching experience.

Our entire faculty is fully Garda vetted. Our teachers are consistently striving to further their professional standards with ongoing training and development. Currently, a number of our teachers are completing their level six ISTD Diploma in Dance Pedagogy. Very few teachers in Ireland have completed this qualification.

Our faculty also have an in-depth knowledge of the leading international centres of excellence that students will be auditioning for. The College of Dance’s connections with this network of third-level colleges is of huge advantage to our students.


Artistic Director

Samantha Lyons

Artistic Director

Head of Contemporary & Ballet

Samantha graduated from The College of Dance and went on to specialise in Contemporary Dance and Choreography at London Contemporary Dance School, London. She has worked with many highly acclaimed choreographers including Janice Garrett, Stephen Koplowitz and Nicole Frobusch. She has performed with famous dance companies including Torn Halves Opera Company, Akashic Dance Theatre and Millennium Opera Company.

Samantha is also a qualified site-specific artist and choreographer from the California Institute of the Arts, where she is now a course mentor. Samantha has over 25 years of professional teaching experience in both Ireland the United Kingdom. Sam is currently completing her level six ISTD Diploma in Dance Pedagogy, a qualification that very few teachers in Ireland have attained.


Artistic Director

Bernie O'Rourke

Artistic Director

Head of Jazz & Musical Theatre

After graduating from the College of Dance Bernie trained at Performers Dance College, U.K. Bernie is a certified Stott Pilates Matwork instructor and teaches pilates. Professionally Bernie has an extensive professional theatre career peforming accross Ireland and the UK in a variety of famous musicals and pantomines. Bernie has performed in television work for the BBC, RTE and CBS and her film credits include Ella Enchanted, Michael Collins and My Left Foot.

Bernie has extensive teaching and choreopgraphic experience, providing guest workshops around the country. Bernie also runs a very successful programme of dance modules in primary and secondary schools which develops dance, fitness and artistic development of young people. Bernie is currently completing her level six ISTD Diploma in Dance Pedagogy, a qualification that very few teachers in Ireland have attained.


Tap Teacher

Debbie Kiernan

Tap Teacher

Debbie trained at the College of Dance and Digges Lane Performing Arts. Debbie’s successful professional career spans numberous theatre, television and films performances accross the world. Theatre credits include a string of famous musicals such as 42nd Street, West Side Story and Guys and Dolls. Her television and film credits include The Tudors, Pop Idol, Top of the Pops and Ella Enchanted.

Debbie has extensive teaching and choreographic experience. Debbie has choreographed many famous pantomines in the most notable theatres. She has choreographed for RTE on a number of performances including Jam The Musical, Eurosong and was Dance Consultant for Eurodance 2008. Debbie has extensive teaching experienece training countless of young tappers throughout Ireland and the UK.

Ballet Teacher

Laura Macken

Ballet Teacher

Laura trained at The Irish National College of Dance and joined Dublin City Ballet as a student member age of 15. In 2017, Laura graduated from the University of Limerick, completing her MA in Dance. Laura has danced with many professional companies throughout her performance career in ballets such as Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Aida and Giselle. Laura is a founding member of Irish Modern Dance Theatre.

Laura also has extensive film and television credits include Penny Dreadful, Circle of Friends and An Awfully Big Adventure. Laura has extensive teaching experience throughout Ireland including Dance Ireland’s professional programme, John Scott Dance, the University of Limerick, CoisCéim Dance Theatre and David Bolger. Laura is also a qualified yoga teacher.


Ballet Teacher

Katherine O'Malley

Ballet Teacher

Katherine took ISTD Ballet and Modern Dance at the Dublin School of Classical and Contemporary Dance. She then started full-time training with the Perm State Ballet School, Russia. Katherine has also studied at London Contemporary Dance School. Katherine went on to join the Corps de Ballet of The Tatarstan State Opera and Ballet Theatre Kazan, Russia and has performed in ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, La Bayadere and Sleeping Beauty.

Katherine has extensive teaching experience teaching for the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick on their BA & MA dance programmes, Dance Ireland, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Sallynoggin College of Further Education, Dance Limerick, DCU, Cois Ceim, Irish Modern Dance Theatre and UCD.


Ballet Teacher

Maria Nilsson Walleris

Ballet Teacher

Maria, originally from Östersund, Sweden, trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet school and Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance. Maria has an extensive professional performance career, choreographic credits and teaching experience. Maria is a member of Jämtlands Kulturkompani and was a Dance Ireland Associate Artist. Her work has been supported by the Irish Arts Council, Dance Ireland, Culture Ireland, Estrad Norr and Konstnärsnämnden, Sweden.

Maria was part of Cannes Jeune Ballet where she choreographed and performed several pieces for their company’s repertoire. She continues to create original choreography dividing her work between Ireland and Sweden. Maria has taught for many leading organisations including Dance Ireland, Galway Dance Project and Dance Limerick.

Vocal & Drama Teacher

Sarah-Louisa Nolan

Vocal & Drama Teacher

Sarah completed a Theatre Studies NCVA qualification in Ireland before furthering her training at De Montfort University, UK. Through The Royal Irish Academy of Music, Sarah has completed the highest grade possible. Sarah is qualified to certificate level in drama through the Leinster Board of Speech and Drama and has completed her Higher Diploma in Music and Education through the The Leinster school of Music and Drama. Sarah has also gained Musical Theatre accreditation from London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art and University of West London.

Professional Sarah has performed all over the world including two years in Italy performing with Lingue Senza Frontiere and Teatrino. As a teacher Sarah has worked with many schools in Ireland and internationally. Sarah has taught singing, musical theatre, Speech and Drama for organisations including, Songschool, IMRO, Malta Services, UCA, LA Dance, Kidkast and many more.

Ballet Teacher

Lindsay Ashe-Browne

Ballet Teacher

After initially training with Debbie Allen and Irish National Youth Ballet, Lindsay went onto train, and graduate, from London Studio Centre. Lindsay has performed professionally with Cork City Ballet and Chrysalis Dance Company before becoming a qualified teacher through the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Lindsay is also a qualified pilates teacher.

Lindsay has taught & lectured at the Creative Academy, London Children’s Ballet and London Studio Centre, while running her own school, Technical Elegance Dance. Lindsay founded The Dance Institute summer intensives in 2009 which is now an internationally recognised summer course. In 2019 Lindsay moved back to Dublin where she was appointed the Artistic Director of Irish National Youth Ballet.

Commercial Teacher

Sarah McGinley

Commercial Teacher

Sarah left her home town of Dublin, Ireland to begin training in Dance professionally at Salzburg International Ballet Academy majoring in Contemporary dance, after this she completed a Trinity College Diploma in Dance on full scholarship at Performers College.

After a successful career in London and travelling the world as dance captain on Princess Cruises she moved to New York City to expand her dance training further in HipHop/Jazz Funk styles and was the first international student to participate in The Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Centre mentored by many of the greats, and furthered her heels dance training on the Dana Foglia Dance program in L.A, where she went on to work in many TV and tour productions across America and Asia.

Now based in Los Angeles, Sarah has performed all over the world in TV, Film, Stage, Tour and Theatre with credits such as Taylor Swift, Todrick Hall, Fatboy Slim, Hauwei, Harpers Bazaar, and many more. Sarah uses her performing experience to teach confidence to her students, tapping into each students performance ability, she believes that we all have that passion and fire inside us and works with students to unlock this and reach their fullest potential.

Commercial Teacher

Lizzy Benham

Commercial Teacher

After a decade of dancing competitively, Lizzy obtained a Diploma in Professional Dance from The College of Dance in Dublin before being awarded a full scholarship to study at London Studio Centre in the UK where she acquired a BA(Hons) Degree in Theatre Dance. She also holds a Certificate in Sports Therapy as well as a BA(Hons) Degree in Physical Education & Science.

TV and stage credits include: All seasons of Ireland’s Got Talent with Locked Creative, the Xpose & Benefits Awards with Fatale Events, Theatre M.A.D’s West End Bares – fire breather (2011), UK tour with London Studio Centre’s Jazz Dance Company (2012), the BRIT Awards (2012) with Olly Murs feat. Rizzle Kicks, a residency with the Body of People Jazz Company (2013), Dial M for Music’s Wilde Nights Cabaret (2014, 2015 & 2016 – Dancer, 2017 – Assistant Choreographer & Dance Captain), Laochra – 1916 Commemoration at Croke Park (2016), Gaiety Pantomimes Cinderella (2012/2013), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (2013/2014), Peter Pan (2014/2015), Robin Hood and his Merry Men (2016/2017) and The Snow Queen (2018/2019), The Golden Era at the Mansion House (2017/2018) and the L’Oreal Colour Trophy (2018).




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Directors: Matthew Duffy (Secretary), Suzanne Binley & Cary Posavitz
Registered Office: 10 Ramleh Villas, Milltown Road, Milltown, Dublin 6. Company Registration No.: 329107.

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