Margaret Atkinson OAM is a founder and director of the Adelaide Academy of Irish Dancing. With a background of 55 years of teaching Irish dancing Margaret has
witnessed the evolution of Irish dance from the structured traditional style of the early teachers to the graceful, aerial and intricate choreography of today’s
modern dance style and presentation.
Margaret is qualified as a teacher and adjudicator through An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha, and has adjudicated throughout Australia and in New Zealand, and
in 1986 at the World Championships in Limerick, Ireland. She is a Life Member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association Inc., and an active member of the
South Australian Branch of that Association. She is a recipient of the Gradam Rince Award of Distinction for services to Irish Dancing; a Fellow of the Sir Lyell
McEwin Fellowship; an Honorary Member of the Port Adelaide Caledonian Society Incorporated; a member of the Adelaide Folkloric Society Incorporated; a member of the Irish Australian Association Incorporated; a recipient of the Premier’s Certificate of Appreciation for voluntary services; an Award of Honour on the 2011 South Australian Women’s Honour Roll and most recently receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to Irish Dancing.
Whilst competition is a vital part of today’s Irish dancing scene and cannot be overlooked Margaret’s great love is teaching the skills of Irish dancing to beginners; taking Irish dancing out to the wider community; and striving to maintain the original aims, objectives, ideals and philosophy of the Adelaide Academy – a dance school; founded by a family; supported by a family, and all its members becoming an extension of family.
Margaret is married to Colin, and they have four sons and nine grandchildren. Apart from the dancing school Margaret’s interests are her family, the choir at St. Davids, Tea Tree Gully, of which she is the organist, and doing crosswords and puzzles.
Kathryn Challen ADCRG Director
Kathryn Challen is the co-director of the Adelaide Academy of Irish Dancing, and is actively involved in teaching Irish dance. Kathryn began her dancing career
under the expert tuition of Michael Kelly and Arthur Gilligan, and was a very successful competitive dancer.
Kathryn is qualified as a teacher and adjudicator through An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha and has adjudicated throughout Australia and New Zealand. She has
travelled to the World Championships in Ireland, Scotland and London and has passed on her love of Irish dance and its music to her daughter, Kelli-Rai, and
two grandsons who are all actively involved in the Adelaide Academy. She enjoys travelling interstate to competition and has attended almost every Australian
Kathy is a Life member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association Inc; an active member of the South Australian Branch of that Association; a member of the Adelaide Folkloric Society Incorporated; and one of South Australia’s most recent recipients of the Gradam Rince Award of Distinction for services to Irish Dancing.
Kathryn has a vast knowledge of music in general, especially Irish music, and her other interests include reading and travel.
Kelli-Rai Howden ADCRG Principal Teacher
Kelli-Rai Howden (O’Donnell) is the principal teacher of the Adelaide Academy of Irish Dancing. She began dancing at 4 years of age, and has been one of South
Australia’s most successful Irish dancers winning the South Australian State Championships in 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1988. Kelli-Rai has competed in
two World Championships, in Dublin and Limerick, competing in solo, ceili, figure dance and dance drama events and has been a member of numerous winning
Australian Championship teams, and attended the World Championships in Dublin in 2011. She was a founding member of Celtic Reflections Irish Dance
Troupe, and an assistant choreographer for this troupe, a role she continues up to this time. Kelli-Rai also has a dance background of calisthenics and ballet and
loves to be involved in the End of Year presentations of the Adelaide Academy.
Kelli-Rai is a qualified teacher and adjudicator through An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha,, is a Council member on the Australian Irish Dancing Association Inc.;
and is currently President of the Branch of the Australian Irish Dancing Association.
Kelli-Rai is married to Mark and they have two sons. Kelli-Rai’s other interests include travel, water sports and their holiday home on the River.
Heather Fraser TCRG Senior Teacher
Heather Fraser (Challen) is a senior teacher, and a dedicated member of the teaching staff of the Adelaide Academy. She is qualified through An Coimisiun
le Rince Gaelacha. Over the years Heather has competed in numerous State and National championships in solo and team events, and has taken part in two
World Irish Dancing Championships in Cork and Limerick.. Heather enjoys teaching ceili and is a reliable fill in whenever anyone is missing from a practice.
Heather is a member of the Australian Irish Dancing Association Incorporated, and is an active and valued member of the executive of the South Australian
Branch of the Australian Irish Dancing Association. She was an original founding member of Celtic Reflections Irish Dance Troupe, and only retired from this
Heather is employed by the University of Adelaide and has two children. She also enjoys travel.
Kate McCormack TCRGAssistant Teacher
Kain Howden Assistant Teacher
Bernadette Mamerow Performing Arts Teacher
Bernadette Mamerow began Classical Ballet at the age of 3 with Sandra Gordon at the South Australian Youth Dance Theatre, training for and sitting exams in
both the Borovansky and Cecchetti styles of ballet. The school also had a successful musical theatre group of which Bernadette was a part and she toured the
state performing and doing school workshops. At the age of 7 she extended her dance skills and learnt Tap and Jazz with Cynthia Snow.
Bernadette competed and placed in many state and interstate competitions. At the age of 12 she became a teacher’s assistant where she discovered her love of
teaching, and she continued in this role until the school changed hands and name. After many years helping and teaching at Dance Creations 2000 with Michele
Vos, Bernadette took on training soloists and duos competing in state competitions. At this time she also became a cheerleader for the Port Adelaide Magpies,
and as a High School student participated in the Rock Eisteddfods, which she really enjoyed. Bernadette performed with the Marie Clarke Theatre productions and in 2000 started working for Essential Talent doing various promotions, corporate and other theatrical performances. During the time with Essential Talent Bernadette enjoyed the opportunity of working with many local and international artists, and learnt much from the talents and skills of these people. Bernadette was given the opportunity to perform as some very well known characters such as Tweety, Donkey from Shrek, Elmo and Theo from the Chipmunks. Suit work helped Bernadette procure a position at the Adelaide Football Club as their Mascot for 3 seasons.
Together with her love of dance, performing and teaching Bernadette is a kindergym instructor working for Triskills and has done so since 2001. Bernadette has been an integral part of the Adelaide Academy of Irish Dancing and Performing Arts for 7 years, teaching Open Jazz and Tap classes and Celtic Kidz which is a combination of ballet, Jazz and tap for children from 3 years upwards. Her professionalism, skills and expertise is very much appreciated by the Directors.
Christina has been dancing since she was 4 years of age. She has trained in ballet, tap & jazz and has also done calisthenics. After a family move to Queensland
Christina re-discovered her love of ballet, and has been focussing on ballet for the last 3 years. Christina is a year 12 student at Golden Grove High and has
studied dance as part of the dance program offered. She has also been involved with the South Australian Children's Ballet Company and recently was part of
their 2015 Fringe production by this Company.
loves teaching Celtic Tots and Celtic Kidz.
The dancers in the Adelaide Academy are taught by qualified and highly committed and enthusiastic teachers who share a passion and love for the dance and music of Ireland and work towards achieving the highest possible level from beginners through to senior dancers, whether it is competition or for fun and fitness. We also invite guest teachers to bring their international experience and expertise to our dancers.