MEET OUR TEAM OF INSTRUCTORS
The magic of Escola de Samba Sydney is the strength of our instructor team. With extensive experience performing and training at a professional level in Brazil, our instructors all travel to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador regularly to bring back the latest in Brazilian dance to Australia.
Director / Head Instructor
Sashya Jay Brito is an internationally acclaimed Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performing Artist and Samba Professora officially accredited by Carlinhos Salgueiro to teach his signature technique. Musa and Passista of Rio’s top Samba league, She is the creator and Artistic Director of the world renowned Rio Projekt performance company and Samba Internacional.
With some 15 years of experience, Sashya’s forte in Brazilian Samba has evolved through immersing herself in the culture as well as training and performing with the top Samba artists and aficionados in Brasil, Australia and the USA.
Sashya has performed at a professional level with Rio’s top Samba schools over the past four years as an official Passista for Paraiso do Tuiuti and Academicos do Salgueiro and Musa for Império Serrano. She parades annually in the elite division of Rio Carnaval.
Sashya is one of only four artists worldwide and the only Samba instructor in Australia to be officially accredited by Carlinhos Salgueiro (Rio’s foremost choreographer and world famous “King of Samba”) to teach his signature technique. When the first ever Brasil Samba Congress took place in Rio de Janeiro in February 2018, Sashya was among the stellar line-up of Samba Instructors.
Sashya has choreographed an impressive array of stage shows as well as live and televised performances across Australia including the recent acclaimed Rio Projekt stage show “The Carnaval Experience". She won the “Best Choreography” award at the Sydney Mardi Gras 2015 and Runner Up the following year. In 2016, Sashya also choreographed the Brazilian performances for the official “Welcome Home” events for the Australian Olympic Team in Sydney and Melbourne and the half-time performance for the Cronulla Sharks “Rio Round”.
Sashya has featured at major Brazilian events in Australia for over a decade, with nationally televised appearances on Channel 7, Channel 10, Channel 9 and shows such as The X Factor. She has also performed with renowned artists such as Carlinhos Salgueiro, Evelyn Bastos, Kellyn Rosa, Sergio Mendes, Jason Derulo, James Arthur, Todd McKenney and Chong Lim.
Samba Beginners and Samba Improvers Instructor
Sky Bailey is a technically trained dancer, choreographer and instructor with a background in commercial dance. Her forte now lies in Brazilian and Latin dance which she has been focused on for the past 9 years. Sky is one of the directors of the Australia Samba Congress and Prana Entertainment. She is an official Passista of Sao Clemente in Rio and parades annually in Carnaval.
Sky is an accomplished Brazilian Samba performer with an extensive level of experience in Brazilian entertainment. She has performed at most of the major Brazilian events in Sydney over the past 7 years including The Australian Olympic Committee’s Rio 2016 events, South Juniors auditorium, Brazilian Carnaval events, The Sydney Mardi Gras, CarnivArgyle, The Brazilian Festival, Darling Harbour Fiesta, Bondi Latin Festival and FIFA World Cup events in Sydney.
With professional training at the Australian Dance Performance institute (Brisbane) in musical theatre and Urban Dance Centre (Sydney) in performing arts, Sky’s extensive dance conditioning and experience has provided her with a sound technical base and a diverse stylistic background. Her versatility has allowed her to perform, choreograph and teach across a variety of genres including jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, street Latin, Brazilian and Afro.
Sky has been an active figure in the Latin dance scene performing and choreographing in major events and competitions such as the Australian Bachata Championships, where her team achieved 2nd place. Sky has also performed for Juliette Verne (choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance Australia) in her company ‘J Foxx Productions’, performing a Russian Cabaret show around Sydney. She performed at the Australian Dance Festival 2009 in Veronica Beattie’s piece ‘What Is Jazz’ and has performed for many other choreographers such as Travers Ross and Tiana Canterbury.
Sky’s forte also lies in digital marketing, brand and social media consultancy. She works with various artists and creative brands to build and promote their profiles across a range of digital platforms.
Samba Intermediate and Student Team Instructor
Jeska is a passionate and dedicated Samba dancer and instructor with a powerful and captivating performance style. Jeska’s passion for Samba has seen her travel to Rio de Janeiro multiple times over the past 5 years to parade in Rio Carnival and train with top Brazilian instructors including Patrick Carvalho, Evelyn Bastos, Carlinhos Salgueiro, Kellyn Rosa, Alex Coutinho, Diego Nasciemento, Felipe Nascimento, Ana Arruda, Egili Oliveira and Sheila Aquino.
Jeska was selected as one of only 5 dancers worldwide to be an official Passista with Imperio Serrano to parade with Imperio’s Ala das Passistas in the top division of Rio Carnaval 2018. In 2019, Jeska also paraded as an official Passista with Algeria Zona Sul.
Jeska was one of only 12 female dancers selected worldwide to be part of the prestigious cast of The Brasil Samba Congress World Champions 2019 in Rio. Jeska spent months in Brazil training with the top choreographers, competing and performing with elite level Samba dancers from Brazil. Needless to say Jeska is now one of the world’s most watched Passistas.
A Samba instructor at Escola de Samba Sydney, Jeska has a natural talent for nurturing students and managing teams. Jeska shares her love of Samba through educating students about the roots of Samba, creating a learning environment that is supportive, delivering a variety of creative drills and bringing some of that “Brazilian” energia! Jeska is also the Team Coach of the Samba student performance team, The Sambinhas. Jeska provides coaching in performance styling and technique, individual free-styling, parading and samba resistência whilst also doing individual and team goal setting. Jeska has choreographed a number of routines which has seen The Sambinhas perform at various events, some which include The Black Tie Ball, The Sydney Latin Festival, The Emerge Festival, Parramasala, The Sydney Royal Easter Show, Creativity Unleashed, The Mateship Fair and supporting a variety of charity events.
As a professional Samba dancer, Jeska has performed at several major events across Sydney, some of which include The Darling Harbour Latin Fiesta and Brazilian Carnaval events. Jeska has also appeared on Globo Television (Brasil’s largest national TV network) featuring Imperio Serrano in 2018 and 2019, including a performance with the 2019 Brasil Samba Congress Cast for The Contest of the King and Queen of Carnaval. Jeska was also part of a Samba team that took out 1st place in NSW for the 2015 Australian Latin Championships, and placed 2nd for Nationals.
Jeska’s professional life involves working with vulnerable children and families. Jeska has a strong commitment and passion in giving back to the community. Her volunteering work includes being a Lifeline crisis telephone counsellor, mentoring and supporting refugee children with St. Vincent de Paul, and working in orphanages in Nepal and India to help underprivileged children.
Jeska believes in the benefits that dancing brings to people, including providing an avenue for individuals to express themselves.
“I think one of the things I value most about dance is not only the joy it brings but sharing the joy of it together”- Jeska
Brazilian Funk Instructor
Nandara Nerys Vieira is a child of dance, born and raised in Sao Paulo Brazil of Afro Brazilian and Indigenous heritage. She is a classically trained dancer and mesmerising performing artist with the soul and unmistakable spark of her culture running through her blood and her performances.
She began dancing at the age of 5 studying Ballet and also Belly dance for 8 years as well as Jazz, Contemporary and Lyrical. For 3 consecutive years she trained with the Cuban National Ballet in their intensive Cuban Ballet courses. She performed as a professional dancer in Brazil for over 6 years and also as an actress in theatrical plays.
In addition to professional performances in Brazil, Nandara worked with dance as therapy for healing and mental health. She is the creator of a project called BASS which is a program developed to provide assistance and therapy for mental and physical health through the art of dance for people of all ages.
Nandara is also passionate about sports including swimming and handball. She played handball for the Paulista Federation for 5 years, was champion for 3 years and represented the team as captain. She also worked with children’s swimming for 6 years.
Nandara moved to Australia to realise her dream of working and living as a full time artist. She is a qualified dance instructor, dynamic professional performing artist and an asset to the Rio Projekt ensemble.
Commercial Funk Instructor
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Karla is an international performing artist with 18 years of diverse technical training under her belt. In recent years she has found a passionate and devoted love for Brazilian dance and culture that has deepened her endearment for dance. Karla is fast becoming known for her fierce style which combines her commercial and Jazz Funk Hip-Hop technique with Brazilian Funk as well as Samba.
Having trained at the nationally renowned, Brent Street Performing Arts, Karla has been exposed to all areas of the Entertainment Industry. She has worked with artists such as Charli XCX, Dannii Minogue and Redfoo, under the direction of numerous choreographers such as The Squared Division, Cameron Mitchell, Matt Lee and Jason Coleman to name a few. She has performed on numerous Film and Television Projects such as X-Factor, NRL Footy Show, AACTA Awards and was a dance extra in the Feature Film ‘Gods of Egypt’.
Internationally, Karla has travelled the globe all thanks to her commitment to dance. Having recently returned home from a 9 month cruise contract onboard the Royal Princess, Karla had the incredible opportunity to work with Broadway’s elites. She was selected to be the original cast member of Princess Cruises new musical ‘The Secret Silk’ produced by the iconic Stephen Schwartz, working very closely alongside Director John Tartaglia and Choreographer Shannon Lewis. She brought her Brazilian training with her and was also selected as a soloist in Liz Imperio’s show onboard, ‘Colours of the World’ as the Brazilian Samba Queen. She has also had contracts across Asia as a Cast Dancer/ Associate Choreographer at Studio City’s ‘House of Magic’ in Macau and a Back Up Dancer for Briden-Starr’s China Tour.
Karla is extremely passionate about Brazilian Culture and has travelled to Rio de Janeiro where she trained and performed extensively as an offical Passista for Unidos de Bangu and Alegria Zona Sul. Karla also took the time in Rio to dive into Brazilian Funk classes with Roberto Soli to further her knowledge and training to bring back to Australia.
Karla is an invaluable member of Rio Projekt performance ensemble and Escola Sydney instructor team.
Funk / Samba Instructor
Nubia Quele Santos is a dancer, choreographer, actress and philanthropist born in Minas Gerias, Brasil and raised in Sydney, Australia. She is a sought after Samba Instructor officially accredited by Carlinhos Salgueiro (Rio’s King of Samba), director of Samba Internacional and associate choreographer and performer for Rio Projekt. Nubia is an official Passista for three of Rio’s top Samba school: Imperio Serrano, Tuiuti and Salgueiro and performs in Rio Carnaval annually at an elite level.
Nubia’s experience in Brazilian dance and entertainment is extensive. Based between Sydney and New York City, Nubia is an internationally acclaimed artist. She is the founder and director of Casa Brazilia, a NYC based Brazilian entertainment company. Casa Brazilia was the officially entertainment for Team USA on their Road to Rio and during the 2016 Olympics. Casa Brazilia worked with Olympic partners and the USA Olympic Committee appearing on the Highest rated morning show ‘The Today Show’ multiple times. Nubia was the assistant choreographer and principal dancer for NBC Universal Rio Olympics launch event held at the prestigious Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Nubia has also performed in major Brazilian shows in Australia for over a decade.
Nubia has choreographed in Australia and the USA. She has choreographed for the successful Off Broadway Show ‘Rio The Musical’ and the Off Broadway show ‘Futurology’. Nubia was the choreographer for Indeed’s first TV Commercial, as well as doing choreography for the prestigious Estee Lauder brand ‘Mac Cosmetics’.
Nubia is in demand for her teaching techniques and has traveled around Australia, USA, the Middle East and Europe to promote and teach Brazilian Samba. She is versatile performer with over 15 years experience in traditional and world dance styles. Her accomplishments include being a dancer of the international hit dance show ’Mystic India - The World Tour' and was also Top 40 on So You Think You Can Dance (Australia).
Whether on stage or in front of the camera, Nubia’s vibrant and colorful personality always shines through. Her acting credits include film and stage productions, such as the Off Broadway plays ‘OY!’ and ‘Black Latina’, and the movies ‘Nowhere to Run’ and ‘Me, Myself I’. She has had roles on the hit TV show ‘Deadly Women’. She has appeared in various commercials including Kodak, Virgin Blue Airline and Milana Bra. Currently she can be seen in commercials around the world for Indeed, Staples, Carmax and Fidelis Care.
Nubia also has a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Technology, Sydney and completed an acting conservatory program in New York.
Ginga Fit Instructor
Yurena Polanen is performing artist, dancer, actor and athlete born in The Netherlands to Surinamese and Dutch Caribbean parents. Growing up in Barbados, she focused much of her time on practicing sports and played tennis and karate. Nevertheless, Yurena always had a love for performing and she took part in various pantomimes, first as a dancer of the ensemble and later as a principal actor.
At 16 years of age Yurena moved back to the Netherlands, where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Physiotherapy. Still having a keen interest in sports, she began playing rugby and later became a part of the National Development Team on their road to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Yurena moved to Australia shortly after and originally planned to continue playing Rugby. However, it did not take long before her inner passion for the performing arts took over and she decided it was time to once again follow her heart and focus on the creative industry.
Initially focusing on the styles closest to her roots, such as Afro, Dancehall and Latin, Yurena was intrinsically drawn to Samba and Brazilian dance, feeling a natural connection to the essence and Afrocentric roots of Brazilian culture. The Brazilian arts are now a great passion and focus for Yurena alongside her work in fitness and boxing personal training.
With natural talent and a strong commitment to continued growth as a dancer and performing artist, Yurena brings her positive energy, athleticism and passion to the Escola instructor team.
Afro / Funk Instructor
Born in Salvador, Brazil, Maiana is an elite classically trained dancer with all the heart and soul from her Afrocentric home state, Bahia. She began her dance training at the age of four in multiple styles of dance and received her formal training at Ebateca School where she specialized in the Methodology of Royal Ballet. Maiana also trained in Afro Brazilian dance from a young age and was an official performer for the famous FitDance ensemble based in Salvador.
Maiana obtained a full scholarship from Bolshoi Theatre School in Brazil where she earned a degree in Contemporary Dance. During her graduation she was promoted as a trainee with Bolshoi's Young Company. Thereafter, Maiana was then invited to Chicago to pursue her career in dance where she spent five years performing and training at an elite level.
Maiana has danced in: Hubbard Street Chicago’s winter intensive, Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances Project, and Aerial Dance Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre. In 2016, she was extended the opportunity to dance in Switzerland for Tanz Zwischen Licht Und Schatten Zurich Project. As a recognized Member of International Dance Council-UNESCO, Maiana was named the Guest Artist for the Fox Valley Nutcracker for two consecutive years.
Maiana is now based in Sydney and brings her elite skill set, international experience and energia da Bahia to the Escola instructor team.