Teaching Faculty

Johane Casabene

Artistic Director

Fellow & Tutor I.S.T.D. (London)

Masters in

Dance & Related Subjects 

(L.U.D.T.) Italy

Johane Casabene has been teaching dance, mainly Classical Ballet, as well as Modern Jazz and Contemporary, for 21 years. She is a Fellow and Tutor of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (I.S.T.D.), a highly reputable dance organisation based in London. She is also a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dancing and Licentiate of the International Dance Teachers Association. Johane is a member of the Association Francaise des Maitres de Danse Classique. At seventeen she left Malta for three years and obtained a Masters in Dance and Related Subjects from the Libera Universita’ di Danza e Teatro (Mantova - Italy). Whilst in Italy, she toured with the Balletto Regionale di Mantova. She also furthered her dance studies in England and France. She has worked with exceptional artists like Jorge Esquivel (Primo Ballerino of the Opera di Cuba, now at the New York City Ballet), Carlos Palacios, Paul Maieorescu (Director and Ballet Master, State Opera, Rumania), Steve La Chance (known on the popular TV show ‘Amici’), Suzanna Egri, Jean Charles Gil (Director, Ballet d’Europe) and others. Johane has directed, produced and performed in numerous dance shows both at the Manoel Theatre and the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Malta. She also performed in various dance festivals abroad. Over the last years Johane has worked on the setting up of the first Dance Conservatoire in Malta, which is intended to provide the right structure where young Maltese dancers can reach a professional level. This will in time allow Maltese dancers to embark on a career either as professional dancers or as teachers both locally as well as abroad. Johane is a Founding Member of the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation which offers a Diploma in Professional Dance at level 5 EQF/MQC.

Elizabeth Gardner Watson

Ballet Teacher

DDE I.S.T.D. (London)

Ms. Elizabeth Watson started her training at the Anthorne School in London. There she was trained by Diana Barker, Jacqui Langman, Nesta Brooking and Nora Roche. She was a runner up for the Mabel Ryan awards and won the Maybe Ryan award in consequent years. Elizabeth was a Cecchetti scholar and won the Cecchetti scholar prize for two years, she was also the winner of Cecchetti choreographic competition and also won the Helen Wolska scholarship through Eileen Langman. In London she had the opportunity to attend repertoire classes with Dame Alicia Markova.

 She also completed her Cecchetti exams up to the Advanced 2 level. Between 1981 and 1984 she was trained at the Ballet Rambert and in 1982 was awarded a scholarship with Rambert school. Between 1984 and 1992, she danced in Germany (Luneburg/Karlsrhue/Kiel). She also taught Ballroom and Latin dance at the Arthur Murrays School in London, and at the TC Dance Club International in London.

Apart from her professional career as a dancer, Elizabeth modelled for Top Mods in Cape Town, Top Models London, and Sandra Reynolds in Norwich. She also choreographed for TV adverts and series such as Specsavers, British Airways and Lovejoy. She was chosen for the face of Specsavers and she starred in The Chief, Ivanhoe, Lovejoy, Growing Rich and Riders. Between 2000 and 2011 Elizabeth formed the first dance company in Covent Garden. In these years she created a ballet school within Framlingham College prep school, Brandeston Hall, Suffolk, where she entered students on a regular basis for their Cecchetti exams. In 2017 Elizabeth moved to Malta and she is now very happy to be part of the teaching faculty at the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire.

Svetlana Silina

Ballet & Spanish Dance Teacher

A.I.S.T.D. (London)

Diploma Profesora de Baile (SDS) Diploma Teacher of Choreographic Discipline (TCD)

MGUK Russian organiser SDS

Svetlana started her classical ballet training in a private school in Moscow where for ten years she was taught, by amongst many others, Lubov Jakunina, Alexandre Prokoviev and Gennady Ledyah - former Bolshoi graduates. Svetlana performed in classical roles in organised concerts in Moscow. In 1989 she graduated from the Moscow University of Culture as both a Classical Ballet Maitre and a teacher of Russian Folk Dance. Immediately, Svetlana began teaching at one of the leading Russian Folk Companies for children where she taught both disciplines. During this period she also performed with a Russian Folk Group touring most regions in Russia. In 1996 Svetlana made Malta her home and taught at the Central Academy of Ballet for 19 years dancing and choreographing in all their shows. Svetlana took part in various performances namely Dance Fusion at Manoel Theatre in 2002, Maya on Flamenco in 2005, Waking up the Lady in 2005, Carmen at the Old Opera House in 2006, Notte Bianca at the Prime Minister Palace in 2007, Celebration of 20th Anniversary of Spanish Dance Society in Malta in 2007 and different shows on television, amongst others. Svetlana also holds her Associate status from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, Cecchetti Faculty, as well as Profesora de Baile (PdB) from the Spanish Dance Society. She is currently teaching locally and at various schools in Moscow, Russia.

Renee Saliba ACII

Spanish Dance Teacher

Instructor de Baile (IdB1)

SDS Student Ballet Teacher

Renee Saliba started her classical ballet training in 1994 at the age of four and she joined the Central Academy of Ballet in 1997. Her love for dancing led her to take up Spanish Dancing under the direction of Svetlana Silina. She has always obtained excellent results within all her examinations with the Spanish Dance Society, her latest being Tercer Año Estudiante Flamenco obtaining a Distinction. Her passion for Spanish Dancing has led her in passing her IdB1 (Instructor de Balie 1) in 2016. Her studies have not stopped there and she is currently studying to obtain her Advanced 2 in the Cecchetti Method as well as the Classical Tercer Año Estudiante with the Spanish Dance Society. She is also currently working towards her ISTD teaching qualifications.

During the years she has performed in numerous dance performances including The Sleeping Beauty (2015), A mid-summer’s Night Dream (2014), The Nutcracker (2012), Don Quixote (2010) and Dance Power 2 (2003) amongst others. She has also choreographed a number of dances performed at various school performances and TV productions such as Ohloq Tbissima whilst also performing herself.

Leonora started training with the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire at a young age. She participated in many local workshops and dance courses, as well as performances with the school namely Cinderella, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Presidents' New Year's Day Concert, Romeo and Juliet, many others and lately the Fata Turchina in Pinocchio. At the age of fourteen she moved to Hungary where she attended the Hungarian State Academy for a year. Upon her return she continued her training with Ms Casabene achieving her Advanced Cecchetti with Honours. Leonora came second place in the Malta Eurovision Young Dancers and first place in the Classical Ballet Category at the MIDCE Competition held in Malta and subsequently placing first in a dance competition in Italy. Leonora followed a full-time course with the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation obtaining a Diploma in Professional Dance and then furthered to a BA Hons at the Academia Nazionale di Roma through an Erasmus exchange. She is now very happy to be teaching at the JCDC and furthering her studies towards her ISTD teaching qualifications.

Leonora Chircop

Ballet Teacher

BA Hons in Professional Dance

Adv 2 Cecchetti

Claire Cassola

Modern Theatre Jazz Teacher

CDE, Licentiate I.S.T.D. (London)

Claire Cassola started her training at the age of 16 with Felix Busuttil and later joined the academy of Tanya Bayona. In 1989 Claire won first Prize in an International Contemporary Festival held in Sicily with choreography by Francesca Abela and in 1992 she was awarded the Brigit Espinosa – London Studio Centre Scholarship where she had the opportunity to work with international choreographers and teachers. Claire has established herself locally as a principal dancer taking on several leading roles during performances with Tanya Bayona Dance Theatre, YADA and The Dance Workshop.

She is a qualified Modern Dance Teacher and is currently working with The Dance Workshop, The College of Jazz and St. Michael’s Foundation. She was awarded the Associate Diploma in 2004 and her Licentiate in October 2007 and her CDE in 2010.

Gabriele Farinacci

Contemporary Dance,

Modern Theatre Jazz Dance 

& Tap Dance teacher

Graduate from the Academia Nazionale di Danza Roma.

Tap World Champion

Gabriele, born in Rome, Italy, in 1993, began his studies in dance at the age of ten at A.S. Full Dance. Here, Gabriele learnt a variety of dance styles including jazz and tap dance. Between 2003 and 2014, Gabriele gained professional experiences in tap dance, achieving seven gold medals at the World Championships, in Germany, and a theatre season at Salone Margherita, Rome, at the age of eighteen. It was in 2012, after three weeks of study in New York at the Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway where he developed an interest in contemporary dance and ballet, which he then studied for three years at the National Dance Academy, Rome. In 2016 Gabriele graduated from the Academy with top marks. In 2017, Gabriele joined Transitions Dance Company, London, and he got the chance to tour around the UK and Europe performing the works by Richard Chappell, Hagit Yakira and Jarko Partanen. In the same year Gabriele followed his academic studies and then he got a PG degree in Dance Performance at Trinity Laban, London.
In 2018, Gabriele joined Moveo Dance Company under the Artistic Direction of Dorian Mallia.

In his further contemporary dance experiences, Gabriele had the chance to dance for Mauro Bigonzetti, Fabrizio Monteverde, Caterina Rago, Lali Ayguadé and Roser López Espinosa.

Federica Nicastro

Ballet & Modern Theatre Jazz Teacher

Diploma in Professional Dance

Adv 2 Cecchetti

Federica started her training at the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire at the age of 12. Since then, she participated in various events and productions produced by the school amongst others La Bayadere, Romeo and Juliet, President's Annual Concerts and lately Pinocchio in which she was the Volpe. Federica has obtained her Advanced Cecchetti and ISTD Modern Theatre at Intermediate level. She also followed a 2 year full-time course with the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation, obtaining her Diploma in Professional Dance EQF/MQF Level 5. Federica plans to continue her studies in dance and is excited to start teaching. She has now joined the teaching faculty of the JCDC and is working towards her DDE in Modern Dance.

 Natasha started training at a very young age and joined the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire at the age of 11. Since then, Natasha participated in various school events and productions including Cinderella, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Romeo and Juliet, Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, and some of the President's Annual Concerts. Natasha completed her ISTD Advanced Cecchetti Ballet (EQF/MQF Level 4) and ISTD Intermediate Modern Theatre (EQF/MQF Level 3). In the meantime, she also obtained a Bachelor Degree in Software Development at the University of Malta (EQF/MQF Level 6). Recently, Natasha joined the Teaching Faculty of the JCDC and is working towards her DDE in Cecchetti Ballet.

Natasha Nikolic

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (Honours)

Ballet Teacher

Adv 2 Cecchetti

Jessica Farrugia

Classical Ballet Teacher

Legat System

MRB Soc. Senior Teaching

Jessica started her training with the Olivia Dow School of Russian Ballet at the age of 5    and has performed in most of her productions.


She has been thought by Olivia Dow MRB Soc., PDTD (Hons) for 14 years. She obtained her Senior Teacher Examination status and has been teaching the Legat system at the Olivia Dow School for 13 years. Jessica was appointed Senior Teacher of the School and was also responsible for running it for the last five years.

After 27 years Ms Dow has sadly closed the school, however Jessica would like to endeavour to continue teaching the legacy of the Legat System she has learnt herself and taught for many years as well as to continue the work of the Russian Ballet Society in Malta.


Nikolai Gustavovich Legat, was a premier dancer with the Russian Imperial Ballet from 1888 to 1914, and also with the Mariinsky Ballet. A rigorous training method has been created with a syllabus in the Legat System and examinations are now also accredited by Ofqual. 

Jessica is now very happy and enthusiastic to be part of the teaching faculty at the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire.

Our Resident Pianist

Maria Attard

B.A Hons, ATCL


Maria (B.A Hons, ATCL) started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 under the tuition of the late Ms. Dorselle Mifsud Bonnici. She continued her music studies at A Level at GF Abela Junior College, where she joined the JC orchestra and took part in over 100 concerts, both national and international. At Universtiy she studied under the tution of Prof. Michael Laus and Dr Hans-Jürgen Nagel, with Piano performance as her main subject. She graduated with honours in B.A Hons in Music Studies. Today, Maria is Malta's only full-time ballet pianist at Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire, where she accompanies both syllabus and open classes. She is also a piano teacher and works with Malta's national dance company, Zfin Malta.

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