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

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 has 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.

Gina Janus

Gina was the recipient of the LA DanceForce Scholarship to train at the Edge in Los Angeles. She trained under the RAD Syllabus of ballet and graduated from Grant MacEwon's Dance Program, specialising in modern dance. Miss Ginas holiday dance camps and Hip Hop style is very popular. A clever choreographer with an excellent rapport with the students.

Kirstie Hill

Kirstie comes from British Columbia, Canada and started training in gymnastics at 5 years old, later switching to study dance. This early exposure sparked a lifelong appreciation of movement, enjoyment of physical challenges and dedication to pursuing personal goals. Her fundamental training in Jazz, Tap, Musical Theatre and Ballet was with a highly competitive dance studio which provided many opportunities for development, performance, and experience. However, she also obtained very grounded learning by recognizing and seeking a diverse range of training sources. Highlights of her training years included winning the Senior BC Provincial Championship in Musical Theatre and training on scholarship with Nilo Toledo in Florida, USA. A short professional performing career included a 3 month run of “A Touch of Broadway” review with Shania Twain in Ontario, Canada. Kirstie then went on to study Dance and Human Movement at Simon Fraser University, earning a Bachelor of Applied Science (Kin) degree in Human Kinetics. With a desire to help people to reach their own physical goals, Kirstie worked as an Exercise Therapist in Canada, preventing, managing and assisting recovery from injury. Kirstie is married with 3 children and has been involved with Draper Dance Academy since moving to NZ in 1996. Kirstie also pursues her own movement development through Yoga and Pilates. She believes firmly in the need for continued learning and is currently undertaking a Pilates Teaching Qualification. Tap has always been a favorite dance style, with rhythmic complexity and required control, contrasting with its inherent playfulness and scope for performance. Kirstie feels it is a privilege to pass on the joy and discipline of dance to her students at Draper Dance Academy.