The Cecchetti method is an internationally renowned Syllabus.   Enrico Cecchetti was himself a dancer, most well known for his Blue Bird from The Sleeping Beauty.  He was also an exceptional ballet master and taught and coached famous dancers such as Anna Pavlova  and Lucie Saronova.

The school  has been established since the 1930’s.  It was initially owned by Sylvia Miller. During the war years the Essendon Studio premises at 950 Mt Alexander Rd was used as a carton manufacturing firm which managed to leave a divot in the floor from one of the machines that banged up and down.   It wasn’t until the 1950’s that Julia Gordon, a former student of Lucie Saranova, opened a ballet school on the first floor.  In 1963 Mr. Athol Willoughby, also a student of Lucie Saronova bought the school.  Then on his retirement  in 1997,  I bought the school, myself a student of Mr. Willoughby, OAM.  In 2007, Michela Dent-Causon moved the school from Essendon to Louis St and now to its current premises in Airport West.  In 2019 it moved into another premise still within Airport West.

Mr. Willoughby was awarded an Order of Australia in 2001 for his contribution to the dance world.  Mr. Willoughby is one of a few Major Examiners in the Cecchetti Method in Australia and it is a privilege to have him teach at the studio he himself owned for 35 years.  He has taught many  students who have gone on to pursue successful careers in dance, here and overseas.

Mr. Willoughby moved from Tasmania to Victoria to pursue his dance study.  He became a student of Lucie Saronova, O.M. who herself was a student of Enrico Cecchetti. He also studied overseas in England with Stanislas Idzikowski, Margaret Craske and Nora Roche. – all doyens of the Cecchetti Ballet world.

It was Mr. Willoughby, who with the support of Dame Peggy Van Praagh, that started the Cecchetti Scholars Classes in 1981 which are still ongoing today. 


Principal :   Michela Dent-Causon

BA Dance (Adel Uni), Fellow Cecchetti International- Classical Ballet,  Adv Dip Teachers Course (Australian Ballet School)



Michela started ballet at this studio in 1973 when it was situated at 950 Mt Alexander Road, Essendon and Mr Athol Willoughby O.A.M. was her teacher.

During those formative years, Michela was a Cecchetti Scholar from 1982 till 1985. This gave her the opportunity to be taught by esteemed people in the dance world such as Simon Dow, Lynne Golding, Martin Rubinstein, Colin Peasley,  Peggy Van Praagh, Dianne Parrington just to name a few.   A Cecchetti medal finalist in the Bronze, Silver and Gold sections.

In 1983, Michela attended VCASS and studied ballet with Janne Blanch and Karen Stevens, Character with Alida Segal and Contemporary. Michela also won the Victorian Cecchetti Intermediate (now Adv 1) scholarship.  During 1984-85, Michela studied with Carole Oliver whilst in Ballarat at school and completed her Advanced (Adv 2)  whilst studying HSC (Yr 12).

Michela then headed to Adelaide to study a degree in dance at Adelaide CAE (now Adel Uni).  This incorporated contemporary, ballet, jazz, ballroom and African styles of dance as well as choreography, analysis and criticism, history, anatomy, Laban notation and music. Teachers where Julia Blakely, Helen Herbertson, Susan  Taylor, Simi Roach, David Roach 


Michela came back to Melbourne, studied with Mr Willoughby and got Associate ISTD (first teaching qualification in Cecchetti)

In 1991, Michela moved to Brisbane to run a ballet school for one year that extended to seven.   During this time, Michela sat the Licentiate ISTD (2nd teaching qualification), Enrico Cecchetti Diploma (Distinction), took classes with Expressions Dance Company and Qld. Ballet Company for many years.

Since returning to Melbourne in 1998, Michela has studied at the Australian Ballet School attaining the Adv Diploma in Teaching studying the methodology taught at the school from Mark Annear, Jaqui Dumont, Margaret Wilson (Contemporary), Christine Howard (Character),  Sandra Squibb (Anatomy), Janine Torrero (Music), Benish notation and psychology, completed the last teaching qualification within Cecchetti Ballet Australia and had two children.  Since 2005, Michela has been a member of the Victorian Cecchetti committee.

The Cecchetti Society is now a registered training organisation within Australia and therefore Michela is able to teach dance at Certificate 4 Level - the Australian Standards qualification.

Mr Willoughby with students at studio on Mnt Alexander Rd, Essendon. Michela is one of them.

Mr Willoughby with students at studio on Mnt Alexander Rd, Essendon. Michela is one of them.