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YNI Dance Team

YNI Dance has a fantastic team of 9 dance teachers who share their love, knowledge and passion for dance with their students. We are very lucky to have such a wide range of teachers for our students. Meet the team that makes YNI Dance what it is!

Meet The Team


Marie Samuel

Owner & Dance Teacher 

Marie is the owner of YNI Dance and will be teaching Tap, Jazz and Contemporary as well as developing the Competition Team. Marie began dancing at the early age of 2 and has not stopped dancing since. Marie has been teaching dance in Upper Hutt for the past 9 years and has found a new passion in sharing her love and knowledge of dance with her pupils. Marie enjoys creating a fun, respectful, inclusive, and passionate class setting for her students. Watching her pupils grow in confidence is one of the main pleasures that Marie gains as a teacher. Marie is excited to continue doing what she loves by allowing her dancers to explore and grow their passion and love of dance.

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Aroha Davidson

Dance Teacher 

Aroha Davidson is part of the teaching team at YNI Dance and will be teaching Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop, Lyrical as well as working with the Competition Team. Aroha began dancing at the age of 5 and hasn’t stopped since. Aroha has been teaching dance for over 10 years now and has always loved that she can pass her knowledge of dance and performing on while also learning from the dancers she teaches. Aroha loves creating an enjoyable atmosphere in her classes where everyone can express themselves through movement, her classes are often noisy and full of laughter. Aroha is excited to start the year and see her dancers grow in their love for dance. Aroha will also be running our Musical Theatre classes. Aroha choreographed for The Upper Hutt Musical Theatre productions of The Adams Family & Moana. We are very lucky to have Aroha on our teaching team and to have her expertise for our Musical Theatre classes.

Claudia Homan

Dance Teacher 

Claudia Homan is joining the teaching team at YNI Dance. Claudia will be taking our Intermediate, Pre-Senior & Senior Hip Hop, Funk & Lyrical classes.

Claudia has been dancing since the age of 8 and, throughout this time, has tried her had at a variety of dance styles. Such styles include jazz, funk, hip hop, lyrical and contemporary. Over the last six years, Claudia has taught hip hop to those aged 8 to 16 and has assisted in teaching. Claudia will be teaching our senior hip hop, funk & lyrical

For Claudia, the best part about teaching is seeing students push themselves to work outside their comfort zone while being supported and encouraged by their peers.

Olivia Johns 

Dance Teacher 

Olivia Johns is very excited to be teaching some of the pre-junior jazz & ballet classes with YNI Dance. She has been dancing since she was 3, so for 13 years now. Dance classes and exam work over the years have built resilience and have felt like her "happy place", allowing Olivia to build long standing friendships with her fellow dancers.

Olivia loves dance because it feels like a safe space to be who she is and express her personality and emotions. Olivia loves all forms of dance, enjoying the different challenges and joy experienced in jazz, ballet and hip-hop.

Olivia is looking forward to sharing her love of dance with her students in a fun and inclusive environment, just as she has received from her teachers over the years.


Maureen Samuel 

Owner & Everything else required!

Maureen is owner and admin-extraordinaire! Maureen uses her Diploma in Physical Education to run our mind and body classes for our students.

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Tayla Best

Dance Teacher 

Tayla started dancing at the age of 3 and over the years fell in love with sharing her passion of dance to others. She trained in ballet, tap, contemporary, musical theatre and lyrical participating in many competitions throughout New Zealand. At 10 years she was accepted into the NZ School of Dance as an associate, training weekly in Wellington. At 17 years she was accepted into The Royal Academy of Dance in London. She gained her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Ballet Education and became a Licentiate and Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance in 2017.After graduating, Tayla continued her stay in London teaching dance in a number of schools. This including teaching RAD at Janie Harris School of Dance and Cecchetti at Chelsea Ballet Schools. She had many successful students who continue to keep in touch with her. After a further 4 years in London, Tayla decided to return back to New Zealand to be closer to family. Some of Tayla’s career highlights include dancing for the Queen and the Royal Family at her 90th birthday celebrations with Darcey Bussell, having a number of students performing in the West End and/or being accepted for study at the Royal Ballet School in London.


Meg Young

Dance Teacher 

Meg started dance at the age of 8 and has been competing in competitions for Tap, Jazz and Contemporary from the age of 10. Meg will be teaching the pre-junior tap classes as well as preparatory contemporary.

For Meg dance is all about the enjoyment, fitness, and the fantastic friendships she’s made over the years. Meg really enjoys the welcoming and safe environment that dance provides in addition to the bond that’s created between the students and teachers. Meg has been assisting Marie in teaching pre-junior tap classes for more than three years now.

Meg is very passionate about all styles of dance and loves being able to pass down her knowledge to the next generation of young dancers.


Sophie Weston

Dance Teacher 

Sophie started dancing at age 2 and has loved it ever since! She began to compete in modern styles around local competitions at 9 and has enjoyed the opportunity to be on stage ever since! Sophie was lucky enough to represent a local competition at PACANZ nationals in 2022 and YNI's troupe team. Sophie has been training in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Hiphop, Lyrical and Contemporary through NZAMD syllabus and is looking forward to the opportunity to work with pre grade Ballet. Sophie was assisting Tayla previously and is looking forward to branching out by herself for the first time! Dance for sophie is a place to learn many life lessons and learn about how her body works. She enjoys the way dancing on stage feels and is thankful for the many opportunities it has given her and the friends and memories she has created thanks to dance! She is so thankful for her teachers' inspiration and encouragement over the years and looks forward to the opportunity to pass this on to others! Sophie is super thankful for the chance to teach and connect to younger dancers and cannot wait to have fun around the studio. She looks forward to having a fun time in class! 


Gabi Chote

Dance Teacher 

Gabi started dance at the age of 3 and from then on it has been a huge and important part of her life. Gabi has tried all styles of dance over the years but her faviroute styles are jazz, contemporary and hiphop. She is also a part of the YNI team at dance competitions and competes with troupes, solos, duos and trios. Competitions and being on stage has really helped with Gabi’s confidence within dance and loves the opportunity to dance on stage. Her teachers have and are a massive pillar in her dance journey by always being encouraging, believing in her and creating an environment that is fun and inspiring. Gabi can’t wait to pass on what she has learnt from her teachers and her passion for dance onto her students. Gabi loves how much dance has to offer, with resilience, fitness, friendships and expressing herself through dance. She can not wait to inspire her students with her love for dance and always have some fun!

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