Cathy-Lea Smith is a highly regarded teacher of dance and performing arts with 35 years experience teaching in schools and private settings. She holds a Bachelor of Education, a Master in Education, a Licentiate qualification in Cecchetti Classical Ballet, a Licentiate qualification with the Southern Federation of Dance, an Affiliate membership with the Australian Teachers’ of Dancing and a Certificate III in Fitness. Cathy is also an accredited teacher of Progressing Ballet Technique.
Her school teaching experience includes twelve years in secondary schools, having been Head of Drama at Beaconhills College and Director of Drama at Yarra Valley Anglican School. Cathy has assessed VCE Drama and Theatre Studies for the Victorian Board of Studies. She has worked as a sessional dance teacher at both Beaconhills College and St Margaret’s School and worked sessionally to choreograph musical productions in primary, secondary and specialist schools. More recently Cathy has undertaken casual relief teaching in local secondary schools.
As well as Drama, Cathy studied Music at university and is a qualified classroom music teacher. She is trained in singing as well as flute, french horn, percussion and piano.
Cathy's Dance training began at Rosslyn Charlesworth School of Dance where she completed exams in Cecchetti Classical Ballet and SATD Jazz to teachers' levels. She furthered her Dance training at Bartuccios, The Dance Factory and Danceworld 301 through the 80's and early 90's, performing in a variety of shows in Melbourne, across Victoria and on two overseas tours.
Cathy taught dance in various academies including Rosslyn Charlesworth, Springvale Academy of Dance and Dawn Vernon, for eight years before taking on a small school in Mulgrave in 1991 which she called Cathy-Lea School of Dance.
In 1993, she opened in Narre Warren with the aim to develop an all-round performing arts school that reflected her own diverse performing arts training an skills. In 1999 the academy moved to the professionally equipped studios in Vesper Drive, Narre Warren.
Cathy has directed scores of theatrical productions in the past 30 years, including plays, musicals and dance productions and has written many productions for children. She is trained in visual and technical design and and enjoys bringing shows to life in a theatre.
Although Cathy's students are highly awarded in examinations and competitions, Cathy is passionate about teaching children the value of performance for entertainment and promotes its 'artistic' value, rather than seeing it as 'competitive sport.'
Cathy has twice been nominated for Casey Citizen of the Year in recognition of her services to the performing arts in the City of Casey. She was also awarded a Holt Australia Day Award in 2011 for her work in developing a local special school.
In 2020 Cathy commenced a degree in professional communication and used these skills to advocate for the dance studio industry during the covid crisis. She established a dance studio support group and assisted many dance studio owners and teachers through lockdowns. She also contributed to the writing of covid-safe guidelines for the Dance sector.
In 2021 Cathy is working with Ausdance Victoria, the peak body for Dance in Victoria. She hopes to continue to make a difference to dance education and the wider dance industry in Victoria through this role.
Cathy is the mother of 5 children, one of whom has special needs, one who is a gymnastic and acrobatics coach and 2 girls who will be dancing full time at Brent Street studios in 2021., She is a passionate teacher who loves helping children of all abilities grow in confidence and achieve their personal best.
"The reward of teaching comes when you see a spark develop in a child; a sense of pride, of achievement, of enlightenment that comes with new understandings, the mastery of new skills, or finding new modes of self-expression.
Teaching dance and performing arts really is about 'igniting the star in every child'. It is a joy for teachers and parents to then stand back and watch that star sparkle."