Casey Davidge - Principal
Casey has trained extensively in many styles of dance, including jazz, funk/hip hop, commercial, tap, ballroom and cheer. She trained at elite dance schools in Melbourne and Bendigo, before returning to the East Gippsland area to share her passion through teaching. Casey holds a Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management, Diploma of Beauty Therapy (Elly Lukas), Certificate in Special Occasions Make-Up (Napoleon Perdis Academy), holds Assistant Coach Certification for Acro Dance Australia, and has been Principal/Owner of Urban Funk Dance since 2006.
Already a thriving commercial dance school and the first of it's kind for the East Gippsland area, Casey has grown and developed the styles taught at UFD from the signature jazz funk style, to also include hip hop, musical theatre, acro, urban contemporary and burlesque.
Casey and her team has enjoyed many years of local and state-wide success at eisteddfods, dance festivals and the Crown International Dance Festival with the performance teams, with students furthering their careers with entry in Ministry of Dance, film and television work, and their own subsequent dance studios opening to satisfy the area's need for dance.
Alongside her commitments to UFD, Casey teaches at various primary and secondary schools, has run the debutante program at the local high school, and is involved with the local community theatre group.
Casey has choreographed for Bairnsdale Independent Theatre Company's (BITE) "Jack The Ripper" production, Nagle College "Grease" and "Wizard Of Oz" productions, and Bairnsdale Production Line Theatre Company's "Chicago" (nominated for Choreographer's Award GAT 2013), "Annie" (2014) "Beauty and the Beast" (2017) and "The Wedding Singer" (2018) productions.
In 2019, Casey welcomed her second daughter, Penelope, and she took a backseat to her usual teaching line-up.
2020 sees a return to musical choreography with Casey back on board to choreograph "Mamma Mia", which is now on hiatus until 2021.
Kelli Matheson - Hip Hop Director/Urban Burlesque
Beginning classes at age 5, Kelli quickly fell in love with modern dance. She trained all through her school years and found her true love for dance at Bairnsdale Jazz Funk, what UFD was formerly known as. Under the teachings of BJF founder, Renee Hallahan, and her sister, Carly Hallahan, Kelli was able to experience many more facets of commercial dance. Kelli spent many years competing in the advanced troupe before leaving the area after finishing high school.
Upon returning to Bairnsdale in 2008, Kelli came home to UFD, this time as a teacher. She formed the area's first ever Hip Hop Performance team and quickly began to dominate in local and state-wide competitions. The UFD Senior Hip Hop troupe has consistently placed in the top 2 in area competitions and her eye-catching and original routines have blazed the trail for other troupes to follow in her path.
Her career highlights include a top 3 placing at the Crown International Dance Festival in 2019, where the troupe has competed against dance schools from all over the country, and dancing with LA Danceforce and Alison Faulk (Magic Mike choreographer), as well as top 2 placings each year since the team began competing at regional dance eisteddfods in 2010.
Kelli is also the Director of Urban Burlesque, her own original style of sassy burlesque with a funky, urban edge. Since moving to Traralgon at the beginning of 2018, Kelli will continue to provide excellence in street dance training at UFD, as well as teach workshops and special events between the two towns.
2019 saw Kelli welcome her beautiful baby girl, Lydia, and after a short hiatus, is back doing what she loves doing - teaching dance!
Tali Thomas - Senior Teacher
Tali began dancing at UFD in 2008 at age 9, at the Lakes Entrance studio. She trained in the styles of jazz funk and hip hop before moving to the Bairnsdale studio in her secondary years.
Tali was placed in the Teen Performance troupe in 2013, where she competed in jazz and contemporary styles at the Latrobe Valley Eisteddfods. The troupes received 1st and 2nd places, and Tali was then moved up into the senior performance teams in 2015.
She was also part of the Senior Hip Hop team to receive a first place at the LVE and West Gippsland Dance Festival, under Kelli Matheson in 2015.
Tali joined a local hip hop crew in 2015 and had the opportunity to compete at World Supremacy Battlegrounds, and many other workshops and hip hop competitions. Tali took part in a Dance Around The World tour of Los Angeles, where she performed at Disneyland, Universal Studios and Hollywood Boulevard. Her most memorable experience was dancing at Millennium Dance, a world renowned dance studio in LA.
Tali has participated in dance workshops, performed at community events, and competed at various competitions including the Crown International Dance Festival.
She continues to lead the Teen Hip Hop performance Team in 2020, as well as several other classes and is excited to make a full return to the studio when we are back in action.
Sarah Collier - Acro Coach
Starting classical dance at age 5, Sarah soon discovered her love of dance.
In 2002, Sarah enrolled at the new dance school opening in town, Urban Funk Dance (then known as Bairnsdale Jazz Funk) at age 10, and instantly fell in love with the commercial style. Sarah trained at BJF with founder, Renee Hallahan, and continued with UFD under new owner, Casey Davidge, throughout high school, gaining experience in many different styles of dance, including Jazz, Hip Hop and Musical Theatre. She also competed in these styles in many competitions including the Sale, Latrobe Valley and Warragul Eisteddfods and the Crown International Dance Festival in Melbourne.
After graduating Year 12, Sarah moved away to travel and volunteer with young people domestically and overseas, eventually settling on the Gold Coast to commence university to become a Paramedic. However, after 12 months on the coast, Sarah returned to Victoria to continue her studies, which brought her home to UFD. After graduating university and working for the Ambulance Service, Sarah decided she wanted another challenging hobby and commenced coaching at East Gippsland Gymnastics Club, integrating her dance background with her new coaching skills to improve the floor routines of her gymnasts.
Since 2018, Sarah has enjoyed the role of Acro coach at Urban Funk Dance and has completed her Coaching Certificate through Acro Dance Australia. Sarah has a passion for working with young people, evident in her many youth-centred volunteer activities and she believes this passion will transfer over to teaching dance also. Sarah has been a student/assistant teacher at the school since the very beginning and is excited to be combining her many skills both from gymnastics and dance to offer such great opportunities to the dancers at UFD.
Sarah is currently expecting her first child with wife Caitlin, and we are super excited to meet baby girl Frisina later this year!
Tara Murray - Senior Teacher
Tara began dance classes at 11 years old in Coffs Harbour, initially training in jazz. She quickly found she had a passion for classical and switched styles to ballet.
After moving to Bairnsdale, Tara fell in love with jazz again and continued to do ballet, also picking up pointe, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop and acro.
Tara has competed with several solos/duos/trios and troupes at regional dance eisteddfods since age 12. She has participated in workshops at the Australian Ballet, Melbourne City Ballet, NIPA and various hip hop events in Melbourne, including Hip Hop Nationals. Tara has also completed ISTD exams in her training.
Since enrolling at UFD in 2015, Tara has represented the school in both Jazz and Hip Hop Performance Teams, competing in many eisteddfods and the Crown International Dance Competition, and continues to dance with the Senior teams in 2018.
Tara has headed up the Junior Jazz Performance Team since 2018, leading her girls to many successes over their short time together and strengthening the technique of her dancers.
She gave birth to her son, Tommy, in early March 2020 and we look forward to meeting her little man when we are all back at the studio, and look forward to having Tara back too!