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Disrupt Dance with Elena Lambrinos

Posted by Team APATA | Aug 4, 2021

Meet Elena Lambrinos, dance educator, researcher and advocate.

  • BA in Sociology and Gender Studies.
  • Masters in Cultural Studies exploring dance at the intersection of style, identity and belonging.
  • PhD in the Sociology of education, exploring children’s dance classes.

Elena Lambrinos has a passion for dance and as a child wanted so much to be a part of that world, but no matter how hard she tried dance kept pushing her away. She was constantly receiving messages that she wasn’t the right fit, the right type, that she didn’t belong and that sometimes the teacher didn’t even know her name. But there was still this pull to dance.

“I always wanted to dance and always loved dancing, singing & acting. I tried dance so many times as a kid. As a little 4yr old, again at 8,9 & 10 and again at 12 & 13. I tried so many places. I wanted to dance, and I kept getting drawn back into it. But I never really felt like I belonged. I never felt like it was something I could be successful at, or even felt that I was being acknowledged or valued.”

Growing up in in a Greek/Italian family in Sydney’s Inner West Lambrinos’ favourite early dance memories were in Penrith High School, where dance was an elective for sport, but with no dance teacher, she and her classmates were left to manage themselves into routines that they would enter into festivals.

“We were given creative lead from grade seven onwards. When I look back today it makes so much sense why I’m in the position I’m in now.”

Two years into a bachelor degree, at the University of Sydney, a point of pride for her family as the first generation to enter higher education, Lambrinos’ left to take care of her mother, who sadly passed away. A loss that still reverberates deeply.

Lambrinos returned to Sydney university where dance scholarship and exploring gender studies and sociology through a dance lens became her focus. She became president of MADSOC – Sydney Uni’s Movement and Dance Society , putting on productions, creating dance opportunities and making those lifelong relationships that now intertwine with her work now as Founder and Director of Dance Domain in Sydney’s Inner West and Disrupt Dance.

Elena is on a mission to inspire dance educators to think about “Dance Done Different”.

Dance Domain is Lambrinos’ home.

“Being on the ground was really important to me. The work we do at the studio and the impact that has in the community, it’s amazing and it’s doing great things for the students. I feel like I never identify as a dancer, but to have my students identify themselves as dancers, when they do not fit that typical stereotype, is just the best thing to me!”

The team at Dance Domain offer inspiring and uplifting classes for students of all ages that boost confidence, promote diversity, and instil a lifelong love of learning. The studio played a large role in her PhD and led to the creation of Disrupt Dance delivering research-backed training for forward thinking dance educators.

Listen to the APATA Podcast episode: Disrupt Dance with Elena Lambrinos HERE

The Disrupt Dance Summit is revolutionising professional development for dance educators.

A chance to listen. A chance to learn. A chance to explore new possibilities.

The Summit is all about amplifying voices that are disrupting the status quo and are making changes for the better. Hear from practitioners, researchers, studio owners and teachers doing things differently with great results.

With presentations, practical workshops and panels, the Summit is all about giving you ways to make your dance teaching practice more progressive, more equitable and more enjoyable for all.

This year, the Summit asks us to expand our notion of  ‘safe dance practice’.

I think all too often when dance educators and institutions talk about safe dance it just gets talked about in terms of the physical, “Are we warming up? How are we preventing injuries? What floor are we using? Safe dance is really so much bigger than that. I’m excited to listen to the presenters talk about how we can expand our notion of what actual safety in dance looks like and what it can be.”

What happens when we move beyond the physical body to consider things like emotional safety and cultural safety in the dance studio? What does it look like, and how might our students and studios benefit?


The Disrupt Dance Summit will be held live online on Friday 3rd September. 

For Australian attendees, it’s the perfect antidote to the Term 3 slump, and for Northern Hemisphere participants its a great way to kick start your training once the new season has settled in nicely. No matter where you’re tuning in from, you’ll be invigorated by cutting edge perspectives in dance and will leave ready to set your training agenda for the coming year.


Tickets are only $57 for individual dance teachers, studio owners or practitioners or $97 for an organisation or business

Follow Disrupt Dance on Facebook: @disruptdance and Instagram: @disruptdance for continued updates.

Elena Lambrinos and the Disrupt Dance Summit Line-Up

“We have Fumi Somehara doing a session on inclusive dance nutrition. Will Centurion is leading the Teachers Mental Health Toolkit, which is so important right now. The amazing Terry Wayside is talking about fostering self-esteem in younger dancers Katrina Cohea – adaptive perfectionism, I’ll be tuning into that one for sure. Nicole Perry’s talking about disrupting power dynamics. This year at our studio we’ve been talking about how power is distributed in the dance class and how to disrupt that hierarchal power flow. We have Jenna Hann talking about behaviour management strategies, Katherine Hutchinson and ballet body image and positive self-talk and Alison Webber has a session on a feminist approach to pointe work. I’m so excited!”


Fumi Somehara:  Inclusive Dance Nutrition- changing language and practice in the studio

An Accredited Practising Dietitian, specialising in dancers’ health and eating disorders treatment. Fumi (she/her) is the founder and Principal Dietitian for DDD Centre for Recovery, a private practice dedicated to helping individuals heal their relationship with their food and body. Fumi is passionate about providing professional development for health practitioners and dance educators.

Katrena Cohea: The Benefits of Adaptive Perfectionism for Dancers & Dance Educators

The CEO of Different Drummer Dance, a studio and online education platform, that’s dedicated to integrating dancer wellness with dance technique. Katrena (she/her) has a Degree in Dance from Cal State University East Bay. She creates resources and hosts courses and workshops that focus on dancer wellness, educating dancers and teachers on topics like body kindness, growth mindset, and social/emotional skills.

Will Centurion: Healthier Teaching Styles – Healthier dancers

Will Centurion (he/him) graduated from the Australian College of Applied Psychology with a Bachelor in Counselling (Coaching). Since 2019 he has focused his time establishing a Mental Health service, Will Centurion Counselling and Life Coaching Pty Ltd, which provides student workshops and teacher professional development to dance studios all around Australia. As a musical theatre performer for 20 years, Will uses his lived experience of the dance sector to create a relatable and accessible services for young performing artists all around the country.

Nicole Perry: Disrupting Power Dynamics in Dance Spaces

Nicole (she/her) is the founder of Momentum Stage, a non-profit that provides affordable resources in best practices and professional development for performing artists and teachers. She is an adjunct professor of dance at the University of Miami and teaches dance at a public middle school. She is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst through Integrated Movement Studies and her writing has been featured in DanceGeist ezine. Nicole believes that disrupting oppressive patterns of power are key to creating more equitable and safe dance spaces.

Jenna Hann: Pre-Emptive behaviour management strategies in the dance classroom

Jenna Hann (she/her) owns and runs a successful dance studio in Regional South Australia that provides quality, holistic and inclusive dance education to all students students. Jenna has a Bachelor of Dance, Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and is currently studying a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. Jenna’s passion is fuelled by her personal experience with physical disability and mental health conditions, and she uses her education and research to provide opportunities for students with additional needs to both learn and thrive in dance and their wider life.

Katherine Hutchinson: Corps de ballet – ballet’s effect on bodies

Katherine Hutchinson (she/her) is an aerial dancer and circus educator in California who combines her 20 years of classical ballet training with a decade of extensive aerial study to make empowering art. Katherine earned a BFA in Dance Performance from Towson University where she began her study of aerial dance under Jayne Bernasconi. Katherine’s unique focus on bringing ballet to people who wouldn’t have otherwise experienced it led her to create a hybrid class called Air Ballet™ that combines the dynamic power of aerial with the softness of ballet. She also teaches true beginner ballet classes to teens and adults that focus on the achievable and desirable aspects of ballet for non-ballerinas.

Terry Wayside: Fostering Self-Esteem and Confidence in Young Children

Terry Wayside is a dance studio owner in Western Australia with over 30 years experience as a dance educator. Terrie holds a Diploma of Arts in Dance Instruction & Management, is currently studying at UWA to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Social Psychology, and has a Cert IV in Mentoring and Life Coaching. Her mantra is “students need to feel valued for who they are, not just their achievements”. By supporting practices that lead a child to self-esteem, Terrie helps students feel confident to take on new challenges and resilient enough to cope with setbacks. Terrie’s vision? To “plant seeds of self-love one child at a time”.

Go to DisruptDance.com for more and follow Disrupt Dance on Facebook: @disruptdance and Instagram: @disruptdance to learn more about each presentation.

Book your virtual seat at the Summit now: Register here

If this isn’t enough to get you registering for the Disrupt Dance Summit be sure to listen to Elena’s APATA Podcast Episode – Disrupt Dance now and watch her TEDxTalk – I am not a dancer, and this is why. (below)

Top Tips from Elena

For Students: It’s your choice what participation looks like. Participation can manifest in very different ways. Above all its about enjoyment and authenticity to self.

For teachers: Don’t accept tradition just because that’s how it’s always been done. In everything I do at the studio and with Disrupt Dance I am always asking: Why do I do things this way? Why do I value this over that? Asking WHY is one of the most important things we can do as people.

Big Thanks

I have some amazing colleagues from Uni who do amazing work in terms of supporting me.

With Dance Domain, we have such an incredible community. I have an amazing team around me, amazing students, amazing parents and I think when we think about a mentor we think about one person and I don’t operate that way. I have amazing friends – Kathy and Sarah (off the top of my head.) But even the students and parents at my studio, we all give to each other and I take so much from them. When you’re creative its a lot more collaborative. My amazing team, we are constantly fueling each other, and even though technically I’m the director, I don’t see it that way. I’m always learning so much from them and they really have helped me get to where I am today.

5 Fast Facts About Elena

  1. Book that changed your life? E: Happy Potter – Order of the Phoenix.
  2. Favourite Family Dish?  E: My Nonna’s Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli.
  3. Movie you can recite word for word? E: The Breakfast Club.
  4. Best dance moment in a musical? E: Cell Block Tango.
  5. You go-to selfcare? E: Walks with my dog Saint.

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