About Us

SusanToivo RCA

There has always been an insatiable curiosity about Russian ballet.  Dancers such as Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasilyev, Natalia Bessmertnova, and Erek Mukhamedov have electrified and transformed Western audiences.

These, and other Russian dancers, are all products of the Russian system of training.  The proof of Russian ballet’s superiority is stated in its history and long traditions.  By comparison western ballet is still young.  Russian ballet is the cradle of ballet and continues to joyfully maintain its momentum of creative effort, producing a level of art that is never less than miraculous, through The Bolshoi Ballet and other Russian ballet companies.

Please allow me to introduce you to a truly unique concept and school in the Australasian world of performing arts.

The Russian Choreographic Academy (RCA) provides students in this region with exclusive access to the acclaimed and complete Russian system of training.

 It also provides a rare opportunity for the top graduates to audition for major Russian ballet companies and for the elite to gain employment with them.  Additionally, RCA students have the option to study ballet along with an academic program (available predominantly via Camberwell High School).

The unique Russian system of training that has produced a multitude of the world’s most exceptional dancers is only successful when taught in its entirety by highly qualified teachers from where it originated.

RCA only selects students who can and have demonstrated their great potential for development and capability to be an elite classical ballet artist, thus enabling them to take their place on the international stage.

As the Russian system of training is an art and a science no effort spent in such training is wasted, even if the recipient does not make the grade.The training will educate students to carry themselves with dignity and character.  The RCA discipline will equip the pupil with the capability to succeed in other spheres as well as ballet.

RCA teachers are of the highest calibre with a distinguished level of knowledge and experience.

RCA offers the unprecedented opportunity for artistic and cultural exchange between Russia and Australia.

Our students are empowered with an RCA education that is unequaled and unparalleled anywhere else in Australasia and with over 40 years of teaching ballet, I know this system rewards its students with success.

Yours sincerely,
Susan Thomson
Grad.Australian Ballet School (Dancer)
(Adv Dip ABS PDTC)

Susan Thomson

Principal & Director

Classical ballet has been Susan’s profession for more than 50 years . Born in Melbourne she was selected as the first and only Victorian student to be taken into the Australian Ballet School’s initial intake in 1964. During the 3 years she spent at the Australian Ballet School she studied with Nina Nedzsvetskaya, Mr. Poul Gnatt from the Royal Danish Ballet, Mr. Leon Kelloway and Dame Margaret Scott. After graduation she was selected to become a member of “Ballet Victoria”, wherein she performed both Principal and Soloiste roles. Whilst with Ballet Victoria, Susan danced Odette in “Swan Lake”, as one of the two leading Wilis in “Giselle”, Swanhilda in “Coppelia”, Grande Pas de Deux in “Pacquita”, and the Pas de Deux in “Le Corsaire”. She also performed as a member of one of the leading couples in Laurel Martyns’ “Spring Sonata”.

Other ballets Susan performed in included “La Beau Danube”, “Peter and the Wolf” , “Sylvia” and “The Nutcracker” , to name a few. During this time she again studied with Poul Gnatt, Nina Nedzsvetskaya and Lynne Golding.In 1973 Susan had the good fortune to meet Mikhail Baryshnikov and Igor Belsky, Ballet Master of the Kirov Ballet Company. With an invitation from Mr. Belsky, and negotiation through the Australian Government, Susan and her husband Toivo were provided with a marvellous opportunity to travel to Leningrad for 3 months to study and observe classes with both the Vaganova Academy and The Kirov Ballet Company (Mariinsky).
Prior to teaching at her own School, Susan performed and studied in Munich, London and New York, working with such teachers as David Howard and Jurgen Schneider.
She also performed in Swan Lake with the great Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. She also made television appearances and toured with The Arts Council of Australia.
Susan was selected for The Australian Ballet School Teacher Training Course where she graduated with her Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma.
Susan Thomson RCA ballet
Toivo Taves RCA ballet school

Toivo Taves

Program & Artistic Director

Toivo’s journey began when he and his parents fled the soviet Russian occupation of Estonia and Latvia, coming to Australia when he was a child. He initially learned the folk dances of his home countries and later took up classical ballet at around 10 years old with an English RAD teacher. However, the teacher suggested he needed a male instructor to further develop his dance skills.

Toivo then trained under the guidance of Latvian ballet master Paul Fibigs, a former Principal Dancer with the Latvia National Ballet. Under Fibigs’ excellent training, Toivo embraced the Russian System of classical ballet, which eventually led him to become a member of Ballet Victoria. This company played a crucial role in the development of ballet in Australia, offering Toivo numerous opportunities to dance soloist and principal roles in various classical ballets, including touring across the country.
During his time with Ballet Victoria, Toivo met his future wife, Susan Thomson. After they married, they were presented with a remarkable opportunity to study in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) after meeting renowned dancer Michail Baryshnikov and Igor Belsky, a ballet master from the Kirov Ballet. Susan and Toivo were able to stay for 3 months and see the incredible training that the Russian students received, which was an amazing experience for them whilst Russia was still under the Soviet rule.
This exposure to the Russian System of ballet inspired Toivo to pursue teaching in this method. Several years later, together with Susan, he took over the school of his former teacher, Paul Fibigs. They initially taught the Cecchetti system but soon transitioned to the Russian System, given the beautiful and logical results it produced in training dancers.
The turning point in their teaching approach came when they had the privilege of working with Janina Ciunovas for ten years at Camberwell District Ballet. Janina, a brilliant teacher, shared her extensive knowledge of the Russian System, having worked internationally with another esteemed teacher, Jurgen Schneider. Thanks to Janina’s guidance, Camberwell District Ballet fully embraced the Russian System and became a preparatory school for the Russian Choreographic Academy.
Throughout his career, Toivo also pursued choreography and created pieces for Ballet Victoria, one of which, “The Scarf,” earned him recognition as a Runner Up in the Australian Choreographic Competition. His passion for teaching and the Russian System remained at the core of his journey in the world of dance.

Susan and her husband Toivo Taves have taught for over 40 years, training hundreds of young dancers. Many of those students are now dancing in companies around the world, including The Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Western Australian and Queensland ballet companies.

Susan Thomson ballerina RCA ballet adcademy
Susan Thomson ballerina RCA bw

Our students are empowered with an RCA education that is unequaled and unparalleled anywhere else in Australasia with over 40 years of teaching ballet.

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