Laura Fleet

Principal, Head of Ballet Department  


Laura danced from the age of 5 in her home county of Lancashire, taking exams in all dance subjects and was awarded a scholarship to study ballet part time in London with the British Ballet Organisation at the age of 8. She travelled every fortnight for classes and trained for 2 weeks at Easter up until the age of 11. Laura also successfully auditioned for the Royal Ballet Summer School at White Lodge in Surrey, and spent most of her weekends and holidays competing in dance festivals and competitions, making it to the All England Finals on 3 occasions.


Laura then went on to professionally train at Laine Theatre Arts at the age of 16, one of this country's leading professional dance training institutions. She graduated with 4 ISTD teaching Associate exams, all qualified with distinction, and having won the classical award. After performing in numerous productions, Laura moved to the West Country to begin her teaching career. She continued to further her ISTD qualifications gaining 3 Associate Diplomas and Licentiate Ballet and also the RAD teacher's certificate, with distinction. She was awarded the Mavdor scholarship for most promising teacher of classical ballet (worldwide) and successfully ran the dance school at the China Fleet Country Club in Saltash for several years.


Laura then went on to teach for a ballet school in Vancouver, Canada, before returning to England to take on the post of 'Head of Junior Ballet' at Laine Theatre Arts in London. Laura was also a tutor for the ISTD teaching qualifications and is qualified to train dancers to become dance teachers.


Laura then returned to the West Country with a wealth of experience and established Ballaré as a unique performing arts school  offering an exceptional level of training in all subjects.


Ballaré has had great successes with pupils performing in professional productions, being accepted onto the outreach training programs of prestigious schools such as Elmhurst and The Royal Ballet School, a young man who only danced for 2 years being given a full scholarship to Elmhurst Ballet School aged 11, and several pupils accepted for full time training at vocational theatre schools in London.


The school has held three very successful shows of its own - World of Wonder (July 2013), Over The Rainbow (June 2015) and Love, Laugh, Dance (July 2017).


Ballaré has its own premises, the third building that has been renovated into studios, all planned and overseen by Miss Fleet to ensure that the dancers have a 'home' with nice facilities and the possibility of different classes running simultaneously to provide a great learning atmosphere.


Ballaré has a 100% pass rate in all ISTD exams undertaken, and has achieved exceptionally high results of A's and B's in all sessions.



Joanne Wilson

Deputy Principal, Head of Ivybridge Branch & Head of Modern Department


Mrs Wilson grew up dancing in Northampton, fully completing her ISTD Modern and Tap grades with Distinction results for all her majors (Intermediate and above).


Northampton is also where her performance career began as she performed in the professional Derngate Pantomimes every year from the age 7-13years.


Mrs Wilson's professional dance contracts include, Warner Holidays UK, Apollon Cabaret Show Bar Turkey, Extravaganza Show team Menorca, Salou and Italian Tour, MV Joules Verne Mediterranean Cruise Itenary, Roberts Brothers Circus UK Tour and Martyn Lucas One Night in Vegas Uk, to name a few. 


In July 2008 Mrs Wilson moved to Devon to focus on building her teaching qualifications. Having already completed Associate Modern and Tap, achieving Distinctions for both whilst in Northampton, it was time to further her knowledge of the ballet world, which is where Miss Fleet became her amazing mentor and inspiration! Mrs Wilson has now worked hard to achieve an ISTD Level 5 Diploma in Dance Education (DDE) for Ballet and most recently a Level 6 Diploma in Dance Pedagogy (Distinction) gaining Licentiate status within the ISTD. 

Mrs Wilson is thrilled to be a partner of Ballare School of Performing Arts, managing the Outreach Branches and fully devoted to continuing to develop the Modern, Tap and Jazz department of the school. The school continues to achieve 100% pass rate, majority of which are high merit and distinction level results and she couldn't be prouder of the students. 


Most recently she has had a new addition to her family, Jack a lovely little brother for her 6 year old daughter Georgie.



Rachel Luiten

Head of Street Dance & Contemporary


Rachel did a degree in dance at Coventry University, qualifying with a 2:1. Although her main subject was Contemporary, Rachel established a love for Street Dance, and developed her abilities by performing with a Street Crew in her spare time.


Rachel has performed with Attik Dance Company and Mobius Dance Theatre and has performed as a part of two Street Dance teams. Rachel was the leader of the 'Velocity' Street Dance Team who competed at the world Street Dance Championships in Blackpool.


As well as overseeing all the Street and Contemporary Dance at Ballaré, Rachel teaches and choreographs for a company in Cornwall called 4 Funks Sake. She has also been recently involved in a local project in Cornwall called 'Living It, Loving It' for which she featured in a film and performed a dance solo at the films premiere.



Natalie Engel


Originally from York, Natalie trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in 2005.


Since the age of three Natalie attended at the Bettany School of Dance and trained often 5 evenings a week in ballet, tap, modern-jazz, acro and musical theatre. A large emphasis was placed on the numerous festivals entered throughout the year during which she competed in solos, duets, trios and groups across the different varieties of dance. At the age of 17 Natalie made the top 6 in the final of the IDTA Miss Dance of Great Britain.


Natalie began her professional career as young as 16 in numerous pantomimes around the country alongside the likes of Shaun Williamson and Bruce Jones. At the age of 19 she landed her first major cruise ship contract aboard the Fred Olson cruise liners. Following this she successfully auditioned to become part of the production cast aboard the larger Celebrity cruise liners with Gary Musick Productions in Nashville, Tennessee. On her numerous successful contracts with Celebrity she travelled the world cruising from New York to the Caribbean and Central America, Scandinavia and the Norwegian Fjords, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Alaska and the West coast of America and many more. The productions on board ship involved numbers from many West End and Broadway shows including Hairspray, Les Miserables, Chicago, Wicked, Lion King to just name a few.


Whilst aboard the cruise liners Natalie began her aerial training. She trained in the silks, the lira, and the rings, both individual and partner work. Wanting to further this experience she successfully auditioned for an acrobat position in the production Espirito du Sonos in Casino Estoril, Portugal. Having gained this experience she was able to land a position as an aerialist in the Vaudeville productions in Cape Town, South Africa. Throughout this contract she performed as both an individual and in partner work in silks, lira, rings and in a strength double act whilst also being part of the dance ensemble. Whilst in South Africa Nataile also worked for many TV productions companies as a both a dancer and stunt artist and has appeared in many TV commercials.


Natalie moved down to Cornwall after moving back to the UK with her husband in 2013. She now has a little girl of her own, Nyana who is now 4 who is already part of our Ballaré team of dancers. Natalie is looking forward to sharing her professional experiences in musical theatre, acrobatics, and festivals with the students of Ballaré and working alongside all the other Ballaré teachers to develop dancers with beautiful technique and added artistic flare, confidence and that little something special.



Gemma Nicholson


Gemma has been dancing since she was a very young girl, studying a variety of dance styles and always achieving a high distinction in her dance exams. After completing her A Levels, Gemma decided to undertake a degree in dance and went to Bristol University for 2 years, followed by a final year at Plymouth University, and graduated with a 2:1 in 2012.


During her time as a student, Gemma found a love for contemporary and ballet, and came to study dance at a more advanced level with Ballaré from 2010. She quickly progressed to assisting with classes due to her university training and years of experience, and then to teaching her own classes.


Performance wise, Gemma has played the lead role in a Musical Film for a University project, was a soloist in a music video, and has performed in many local productions, including Cinderella and Fame.



Sonja Lincoln 


Sonja was trained in Cheltenham by Mrs Janet Marshall, one of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (I.S.T.D) major examiners, and performed in many professional shows and pantomimes in the local area whilst growing up.


As a teenager she attended the Gloucestershire Academy of Performing Arts, studying Dance, Drama, and Music where Sonja was selected for a special performance at the Royal College of Music.


In 2001 she graduated from Liverpool J.M. University, gaining a BA Hons Degree in Dance and Drama and a Professional Diploma in Jazz Dance, before moving down to Devon and obtaining  her qualifications as a dance teacher in I.S.T.D Tap, Modern Theatre, Jazz Dance and Imperial Classical Ballet.


More recently, Sonja returned to college in London to study for a Contemporary Music and Singing Diploma at Vocaltech Vocal School, where she graduated top of her class and was awarded Best Live Performer of the Year.


As well as teaching Dance and Performing Arts, Sonja currently fronts an eight piece soul band, in and around the South West as well as being a regular guest vocalist with the Plymouth Co-Operative Big Band and is one half of the popular Plymouth singing duo, 'Lipstick & Lashes'.



Kim Gibbs


Having worked for many years as a secretary and PA, Kim is now our school administrator and keeps everything in perfect order - from accounts to uniform orders, Kim has a spreadsheet for everything, and we couldn't run our classes without her help!


Kim has two daughters who dance with Ballaré - Alisha and Kirsten.