Our Teachers

Our Teachers

Julie Symmonds

DFPSA Founder and Chief Executive Officer


Julie holds a Bachelor of Music Honours, specialising in Dance from the University of Cape Town. In 2015 she attended the Dance for PD® Introductory Teacher’s Course in New York – the first South African to complete this training – and in February 2016, she presented the very first Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa (DFPSA) class at the Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West. In 2017, she completed the Dance for PD® Advanced Training and Certification Programme – at the time one of only six people in the world to do so – and is qualified to train others in the Dance for PD® methods. Together with fellow ballet teacher Carmen Davidson, they launched the company Dance for Parkinson’s S.A Pty ( Ltd). Whilst still actively involved in DFPSA and available for yearly teacher training, as of 2019, she and her family reside in Scotland where she teaches in the Dance Health and Wellbeing programmes at Scottish Ballet.

Laurette van der Merwe

DFPSA Teacher – Somerset West


Laurette began her RAD ballet training in the 1960s and went on to train in modern dance. In 1979 she was admitted as an Associate Modern Dance Teacher with the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) and in 1981 she received Honours for her Bronze Diploma in Tap from IDTA. In 1992 she received her Level 1 Coaches Certificate with the South African Amateur Gymnastic Union as a Rhythmic Gymnastic Coach and in 1993, qualified as a Rhythmic Gymnastic Judge for SAGF. She competed nationally at the ages of 38 and 47 at the South African Rhythmic Gymnastic Championships. Laurette had her own dance studios throughout the Helderberg Basin, Winelands and Overberg and taught modern dance to students of all ages for 27 years. For 15 of those 27 years, she coached rhythmic gymnastics. She now teaches adults of all ages through her Movement to Music classes which incorporates her own choreography and sometimes various apparatus. She previously assisted Julie Symmonds in her Dance for Parkinson’s start-up class in Somerset West and plans to help grow Dance for Parkinson’s in her area. She believes her experience in dance, working with the elderly, and her patience makes her an excellent candidate for this programme. She encourages people to try their best no matter their physical or mental problems, which is what Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa is all about.

Lisl Gruneberg

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Lisl is a Royal Academy of Dance registered ballet teacher who has been teaching in Cape Town for many years always with the motto “The Joy of Dance”. Whilst researching therapy and rehabilitation classes for children in South Africa, she realised there weren’t many, but had heard about Dance for Parksinon’s South Africa and wondered if she could learn something with us and adapt it for children. Upon training with Julie and the team, she discovered not only the wonderful physical benefits of this programme, but it also brought a whole new meaning to “The Joy of Dance”. Lisl is thrilled to be teaching this amazing programme and spreading the joy of dance wherever she can.

Barbara Bain

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Barbara was born in Zimbabwe where she studied ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance method. She attended university in Cape Town after which she began teaching creative movement to children and adults and has been doing so for 20 years. For the past 5 years, she’s been teaching using the Living Dance International Syllabus. Upon attending a DFPSA class, she says she felt as if she had “come home” and received the training to become a teacher not just because she loves teaching, but because she hopes she’s really helping people in the process.

Kerry Pentz

DFPSA Teacher – Howick, KwaZulu-Natal


Kerry is a graphic designer and home educator who, having once done some ballet and ballroom, was always interested in the benefits of music therapy. When her mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, she wanted to find ways of helping and came across a DFPSA video online. It wasn’t long before she made contact and she’s so loved being a part of this organisation where she’s able to help Parkinson’s sufferers in a creative way.

Sandra Kruger

DFPSA Teacher – East London


Sandra is a music teacher with a passion for singing and dancing. When attending a DFPSA class with her grandmother, she witnessed the transformation in front of her very eyes – there was joy, meaning, hope, and purpose. She knew she had to get involved, fully aware of the impact this programme can have, changing lives forever. The course was so inspiring and she loves being a part of it.

Tamryn Pelser

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Tamryn’s movement practice is about the integration of brain, body, and heart to create change in all areas of life. She is certified in Functional Anatomy Training, Conscious Movement Education, Body Intelligence and Psychology with over 15 year’s experience. She works closely with other health practitioners with a focus on maintaining healthy and consistent daily practices for physical and mental wellbeing.

Christie Clayton

Founder of Dance Movement for Parkinson’s – Harare, Zimbabwe


Christie was born and raised in Zimbabwe where she trained at the Dawn Saunders School of Ballet and completed her examinations in the Cecchetti Ballet Method. She was a member of the National Ballet of Zimbabwe (NBZ) from age 15. When she was 18, she trained at the UCT Ballet School, moving on to London and eventually joining the Vienna Festival Ballet for 3 years. Upon returning home, she continued dancing with the NBZ and retired in 2010 thereafter she continued teaching and choreographing. In 2018, she completed the Introductory Teacher Training course with us and began the Dance Movement for Parkinson’s in Harare. For Christie, the reward is seeing the effect on her students – keeping her soul fed and her passion alive.

Saartjie de Wet

DFPSA Teacher – Potchefstroom


Saartjie danced throughout her childhood and after school, obtained a BA Degree and Teacher’s Certificate at the then Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. For many years she taught at secondary schools, but also taught ballet. In 1993 she became involved with the Christian Dance Fellowship of South Africa giving her insight into the work being done internationally with socially marginalised groups through the medium of dance. This inspired her to do a course with Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa and thereafter she began teaching classes in Potchefstroom. Saartjie hopes to reach out to neighbouring towns in the coming months to bring the joys of this programme to those living with Parkinson’s.

Marna Bolt

DFPSA Teacher – Pretoria


Marna has been a registered Royal Academy of Dance teacher for 40 years and is also a qualified Pilates instructor (BASI MAT). She has taught graduate students in dance and Pilates at the University of Pretoria for 18 years. While looking at branching into new fields, she came across Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa and immediately knew it was what she wanted to do. Marna has been offering Dance for Parkinson’s classes in the Pretoria area since 2018.

Margot Wood

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Margot has been a teaching artist for more than 30 years in Dance and Educational Drama and Theatre. Her dance experience and qualifications are in the fields of Spanish dance, ballroom, Laban movement studies, lessac kinesensics, ballet, modern and tap. She completed her Dance for PD® training at the Mark Morris Dance Centre in NYC in 2018.

Annette Smit

DFPSA Teacher – Robertson


Annette is a trained piano music teacher living and working in the BAR Valley (Robertson, Ashton, Bonnievale). She teaches piano and guitar lessons at Ad Libitum Music Academy in Robertson and loves helping and teaching people – especially when it involves music and dance. She did the Dance for PD® course at the end of 2019 and realised the wonders that music, movement and dance can do for people living with Parkinson’s. Whilst she doesn’t currently teach, Annette is planning on starting Dance for Parkinson’s classes in Robertson in the coming months.

Megan Kerschbaumer

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Megan began dancing at age 8, training in a variety of styles including modern, ballet, contemporary, African, zazz, hip-hop, and Indian. Fuelled by her passion for understanding the human body, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology at UCT in 2010. Thereafter, she followed her love for dance, music and movement and began training as both a Pilates Mat instructor (with Conscious Movement Education) and a Syllabus Dance teacher (with DanceCor). In 2016 she started her own dance and movement studio – Kerschi Dance Academy. Megan believes that everyone, no matter their ability, should be given the opportunity to learn about their body in movement and enjoy the beauty and freedom of dance. She has continued her training as a teacher and instructor completing courses in Specialised Pregnancy Fitness, Pilates Equipment, Pilates Special Populations, Pilates Conditioning for Athletes and Dancer, Fascial Release, Acro Dance and Dance for Parkinsons. She continues to teach a wide variety of Dance, Movement, Pilates and Fitness classes for all ages and all abilities.

Shirley Smith

DFPSA Teacher – Port Elizabeth


Shirley trained at a ballet school in Pretoria, as well as at UCT. Thereafter, she danced with the then CAPAB Ballet Company. She is a qualified tap, ballet and modern dance teacher. She became a Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa teacher in 2017 and really enjoys interacting with all the participants both during the class and the social time afterwards.

Marthie de Koning

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Marthie is an occupational therapist with more than 12 years’ experience working in old-age homes. She was deeply touched the Parkinson’s community and has absolutely loved being part of our team of teachers.

Professor Kate Wells

DFPSA Teacher – Cape Town


Kate‘s dance teaching technique specialises in offering people with Parkinson’s imaginative, creative, and practical mobility sequences, directly targeted at Parkinson’s symptom management. She is currently volunteering with Barbara Bain, in the Durbanville Dance for Parkinson’s classes.