Heida Yarr (Principal)

Mrs Yarr is a fourth generation dancer who is passionate about passing on her love of dance. With over 30 years of teaching experience and a mother of 5 children she enjoys teaching within a nurturing environment. Mrs Yarr has significant experience in all types of dance. Her favourite ballets that she has danced in include Coppelia and The NutCracker. These are special to her because they are choreographed to capture a childs imagination. She has been involved with the New Plymouth Operatic Society and Pukekohe Light Opera Club. During student days Mrs Yarr did very well in competitively and was nominated twice to the PACANZ National finals, won various scholarships including the New Plymouth Ballet Club Scholarship and the Hawera Centential award. Having passed her teachers examinations in both the RAD and ISTD ballet.

Mrs Yarr has danced with Tina Cross, Jane Roseman, Michael Parmeter and Nigel Galliene.

Some memorable teachers she has learnt off include Russell Kerr, Philip Chatfield, Peter Boyes, Jon Trimmer, Lucette Aldous and Val Deakin.

Sonia Draper (Founder)

Mrs Draper is a third generation dancer, trained initially by her mother she went on to study under world renowned teachers such as Poul Gnatt (Royal Danish Ballet), Sara Neil (Royal Ballet), Walter Trevor (Royal Ballet), Russell Kerr (Festival Ballet), Val Deakin (Royal Ballet) and Jane Roseman (New York).

After touring extensively with both the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Val Deakin Dance Theatre, Mrs Draper who is married to fellow dancer Leon Draper embarked on a teaching career. Originally trained in the RAD method Mrs Draper went on to obtain her Advanced Teachers Certificate.

From there a desire to expand on the basic teaching principles lead to studying various syllabi of The Imperial Society of Teachers if Dancing, The Imperial Ballet Faculty (of which Mrs Draper is a dual examiner) provides the musical and artistry challenge necessary for her fulfilment in the Art of Teaching.

Mrs Draper passed away with over fifty years of teaching experience.

Monique Chappell

Monique has a long and proud history with the Draper Academy of Dance.  She first started dancing with Mrs Draper when she was about 7 years old, and continued with Mrs Yarr when the Drapers moved to Canada, studying ballet, jazz, national, tap, contemporary and pas de deux, as well as dance history and anatomy.  

In 1994, Monique achieved her Advanced 2 Ballet Exam and her Solo Seal Jazz Certificate, and moved to Wellington for the next 3 years to study for her Teachers Diploma at the New Zealand School of Dance.  In 1997 she graduated with a NZSD Teaching Diploma and her Associate in both National Dance and Classical Ballet. (ISTD) 

Also during her time in Wellington, she continued her studies of anatomy and dance history, and she gained a certificate in therapeutic massage and learnt to play the conga drums!  

In 1998, she was lucky enough to be accepted as the Senior Assistant Teacher for the Draper Academy of Dance, and has enjoyed this position for the past 11 years.  This year, Monique sat her Associate Diploma in classical ballet, and was successful…thanks so much to Mrs Draper for her time and effort, and Mrs Yarr for all her support and encouragement, and to all the students and parents who gave me kind words of best wishes.

Siyanna Yarr

Siyanna is an ANZAMD qualified Hip Hop and Jazz teacher with training and experience to back up her knowledge. Siyanna began her dance training at 2 years old and has since developed an education in a wide variety of dance styles. At twelve years old she successfully auditioned for the Royal Family, which led her to two bronze HHI World medals and a spot competing on season one of Jeniffer Lopez’s TV show, ‘World Of Dance’. She competed with dance crews Bubblegum, Duchesses, Royal Family Varsity and Mini Request as well as guest performing with Sorority, and dancing alongside the Royal Family. She has since been training under many influential urban and Hip Hop choreographers, including training in LA frequently with choreographers such as Jojo Gomez and Kyle Hanagami, she has also attended regular dance camps including Asia Camp and Arena Dance Camp, where she has trained from choreographers including Brian Friedman, Nicole Kirkland and Keone and Mari Madrid.

In 2018 she was the NZAMD National Hip Hop scholarship winner, a back up dancer at the Vodafone Music Awards for singer Razé, a performer in Momentum Productions ‘Duality’ show, a Guest Artist in the IDX10 show and so much more. Some of her other credentials include music videos such as Justin Bieber’s ‘Children,’ Savage’s ‘Zooby Doo’ and Parris Goebel’s ‘Friday.’ She has also been a guest artist in many shows including Monsters of Dance LA, World of Dance (Finals Competition LA), TCE Awards Live in Hollywood, TV2 Kids Choice Awards, Matariki Magic TV Spectacular, Goldmynd, Murder on the Dance Floor, Parris Project and many other national Showcases with the Royal Family.

Anne Ditchburn

Anne Ditchburn started her dance training at the age of 3yrs. She went up to London at 16yrs to train full time at Arts Educational School, studying a wide range of theatre including singing, drama and dance. Then decided to focus on classical ballet, which is her passion and trained a further 3 years at the Rambert School of Ballet, receiving her diploma.

After leaving Rambert, Anne travelled around Europe and danced with various companies both classical, contempory and variety. These included Dublin City Ballet, Croydon Dance Theatre, High Society Ballet- Spain, Casino Palladium – Majorca, Scala Ballet – Madrid, Simple Touch Ballet, choreographer :Esteban Greco in Senegal.

After 10 years of travelling and performing, Anne had an opportunity to work with Richard Glasstone and take her Cecchetti ballet teachers exam, whilst also gaining teaching experience at Laine theatre Arts in London. On finishing her course she took over the Maureen Cockram school of dance in Wiltshire, UK. She ran the school for 5 years while also teaching classical ballet at Thamesdown dance Studios at Swindon college, on their full time vocational dance course.

During this time Anne met and married her husband Gowan, who is also a teacher and they have 2 children. They emigrated to New Zealand in 2005 and in 2008 Anne joined the staff at the Draper academy of dance. Anne is at present celebrating her 10th year at Drapers and loves working with such a great team of teachers and students!