Ray & Maxine Nelson, together with their three children, Brianna, Joshua and Jacob, left Kansas City, USA in 2011 to begin their new chapter in Cambridge, New Zealand.

Ray successfully managed his own studio in Kansas City for 13 years working with several Performing Arts Centers in Kansas. Maxine, his wife and native Cambridgite, is an accomplished musician and vocalist. She is also co-director of the popular Holiday Workshops and works alongside her husband at Ignite.


Our VISION for Ignite is to...

  • positively impact our community through the vehicle of the arts one person, one family at a time.
  • give students of all ages the opportunity to develop their artistic and creative abilities through creative arts.
  • give teachers the opportunity and place to develop their skill and passion in the arts.

OUR IGNITE TEAM

IGNITE'S TEACHERS

ray & maxine nelson

DIRECTORS AND FOUNDERS : Ray & Maxine Nelson

Ray is a passionate entrepreneur with 28 years in music education.  An accomplished musician himself, he has owned and operated several successful music studios over the years in large performing arts academies overseas, and brings with him a desire to see an arts hub model established locally that can also be used to expand out to other parts of NZ and beyond. 

Maxine has been married to Ray for 30 years and they've worked on and in many ventures together as a team most of those years.  She considers raising three outstanding young people, Brianna, Joshua and Jacob a huge accomplishment.  She is responsible for recruiting the Ignite instructors and co-directs Ignite Arts Academy with her husband, spearheads and develops the concepts behind the Ignite programs and the very popular performing arts school holiday workshops.  She is passionate about excellence in the arts and is an accomplished musician and vocalist.

ann speed

TEACHING:  Violin, Viola

Ann and her husband and daughter have recently moved from Northern Ireland to live in New Zealand.  For the past 27 years she has been employed as an Upper Strings Tutor by the Music Service of the Southern Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland.  This role also incluilded musical directorship of the South Ulster Youth Orchestra, and the South Ulster String Orchestra.

Alongside her teaching career she remains an active participant in semiprofessional orchestras and ensembles, both playing violin and making a contribution to directing.  She also has experience as a freelance musician performing all over Ireland.

We welcome Ann to our teaching staff here at Ignite.

kartika sulistiowati

TEACHING:  Violin

Kartika Sulistiowati is a musician and composer, originally from Indonesia, she has been playing violin since she was young and has been enjoying it since. Back home, she works as a session musician for different orchestras and bands, as well as taught for more than 5 years. She moved to Hamilton 4 years ago, and just recently finished her Bachelor of Media Arts in Commercial Music at Wintec. She has been in some orchestras all around Hamilton and musical productions namely Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton City Pop Orchestra, Sweet Charity, Dogfight, Hood Street: The Musical, and recently Chicago. Through her Suzuki method training, she is inspired to teach violin on all age group and make music learning fun.

zhadon cook

TEACHING:  Hip Hop/Krump/House/Locking/Popping/Afro/Salsa

Zhadon is an experienced dancer of many styles. He has been dancing for 11 years, 3 of them professionally. Hailing from Hamilton, he started dancing with NEXUS DC, a Waikato all style dance crew and quickly progressed to teaching others. Although Zhadon's first love is Hip Hop, he is very musically talented and can play a variety of instruments including drums, piano, guitar and violin.

Zhadon has competed in numerous dance competitions from Auckland to Wellington and internationally!  In 2019 he came 3rd equal in a dance battle in Lyon, France. He has competed and placed 2nd at the 2019 Te Puke Hip Hop battle as well as 2016 national Hip Hop battle Matariki Swag Fest.
Zhadon's passion is in teaching all ages and would one day love to open his own Hip Hop dance studio in the Waikato.

courtney richmond

TEACHING:  Contemporary, Jazz Ballet
ADMINISTRATOR:  Ignite Dance Department

Courtney has been dancing since the time she could walk. Throughout her school years she trained in Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, and Contemporary dance, completing examinations to high results in both the NZAMD and RAD syllabus. During this time she competed in contemporary and jazz competitions through the lower north island. Courtney started teaching at her local dance studio as a teenager, as well as taking leadership roles in choreography and organising of arts events at her high school. She  moved to Hamilton in 2016 to study English, theatre, and dance at the University of Waikato on a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship. 

During this time she has attended and performed at the 2016 Tertiary Dance festival, performed for the Waikato Contemporary Dance Projects Trust  2016 - 2019, and was President of Unity Dance Club 2017 and 2018. While studying in 2017 she developed a passion for Community Dance practices and integrated communities which lead her to volunteering as a dance facilitator for Life Unlimited and pursuing further study in this area. Courtney is now back at the university, after taking a year break to travel, and is studying towards her Master's Degree looking at Community and Integrated Dance practices. 

mckenzie northcott

TEACHING:  Jazz Ballet, Musical Theatre, Mini Movers

Mckenzie has joined the Ignite Arts Academy from 8Count Dance Studio in Pukekohe where she has danced for 14 years and has taught for the previous four years. She has sat and achieved high marks in all of her NZAMD exams right from Rosette One to Intermediate Jazz. She is starting her third year at Waikato University, studying a Management degree majoring in Accounting and Sport coaching and development. McKenzie is a highly motivated young leader with already a long list of accomplishments to her name in education, volunteer service to her community and school, leadership, sporting (netball) and more.  

With her move to Hamilton, she has the desire to continue teaching and we welcome her into the Jazz Ballet program within our dance academy.  She encourages students to express how they feel through their movement and performance, to gain confidence in an fun and welcoming environment.

erika duerre

TEACHING:  Hip Hop, Acro

Erika has been a dancer since she was three years old and still loves it. She started her training with classical ballet, sitting her exams with both BBO ballet and DEC, achieving high marks.  Over the years she has branched out to train in hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, acrobatics and gymnastics, plus plus.  Coming from En Pointe Dance Studio in Whitianga to Hamilton for University she put a pin in her dance training to upskill in gymnastics and trampoline coaching. While doing this she also started teaching and training in the aerial arts at a nationally competitive level. 

From approximately 12 years of age Erika has been assisting and teaching dance classes at her home studio and fell as much in love with teaching and sharing her passion as she did with her own classes. She loves the sense of community that family dance and teaching brought to her studio and wants to share that experience with others.

Erika loves working with people to find the right fit for them as she believes that this is the best way to help people reach their personal best. She can’t wait to bring her energy and experience to the already amazing team at Ignite Arts

kim malone

TEACHING:  Dance Classes for the over 60's

Kim is passionate about teaching dance (Tap, Jazz and Musical Theatre) to others, having done so for more than 20 years. She also has a keen interest and talent in choreographing dance routines across all age groups.

She has an extensive background training in Tap dance, completing all exams with ‘distinction’, as well as a long history in competitive dance throughout New Zealand.

Kim has also been awarded a prestigious BBO Dance Scholarship.

She has travelled widely; singing and dancing in Cabaret shows and musicals, as well as teaching in Europe.  

Kim has recently moved to Cambridge, from Auckland, and is excited to not only be living here, but also to be able to work within the Ignite Cambridge community.

carey gilliver

TEACHING:  Band, Guitar, Drums

Carey began his journey in music at about the age of six learning to play the piano, achieving Grade 7 (Royal Schools) and Grade 5 theory. He has year 1 and 2 University papers in musicianship (ear training) and Materials of Music (harmony and counterpoint).  

He began playing guitar seriously in his early teens and joined a classic rock and blues band called Magic Roundabout at age 21 on keyboards and guitar and later fronting and lead vocals. He has also played drums since age 13.

Carey has played in a number of different bands and shows touring all over NZ including rock band Boneyard on lead guitar, ‘The Chain’ Fleetwod Mac Experience (lead guitar and vocals), Creedence Clearwater Revived (lead vocals and lead guitar) and Kightshade (keyboards). He has also performed many gigs solo singing and playing guitar. Carey is currently a member of an excellent Pink Floyd theatre show called Floyd Live on guitar and lap steel.

Carey has also worked for about 20 years in the sound and lighting production industry with Scott Sound and Lighting and has a solid understanding of live sound mixing and stagecraft.

Having been raised with a family of teachers he is very friendly and approachable and takes an easy and non pressurizing approach with his students, maintaining a strong focus on them having fun with their music.

matthew mooney

TEACHING:  Drums, Keyboard, Guitar

Matthew lives and breathes music and loves sharing his knowledge and creativity with the next generation.  He describes his teaching style as practical and fun. 

Matt was brought up in and around musical theatre and believes music to be his main life purpose.  

In his spare time he is also a free lance sound and stage technician doing sound and lighting work for festivals, tours and events.

Fun Fact : Matthew is also the keyboardist to reggae band “The Generation” and drummer for death metal band “Gasp”

tim burkhill

TEACHING:  Keyboard, Vocal, Guitar

Tim is very dedicated about teaching musical instruments to students of all ages and is passionate teaching keyboard, guitar & vocal.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from the Australian Institute of Music, a Graduate Diploma of Performing Arts & Drama.  

Since an early age he developed a keen interest in classical and acoustic guitar, musical theatre, singing and acting.   He has performed in a number of shows and given solo performances in classical/contemporary, singing professionally in Australia and New Zealand. 

Tim has been an itinerant teacher of guitar, keyboard & vocal at various colleges in Auckland for many years.  Since moving to Cambridge with his wife Kim, is enjoying the more relaxed way of life in the beautiful township of Cambridge. 

josh woest

TEACHING:  Keyboard, Guitar, Drums

Having spent two years studying Management at the University of Waikato, Josh left to pursue his passion for music he discovered during his time there. He graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Commercial Music in Production at Waikato Institute of Technology where he has gained an understanding of audio engineering, production, mixing and mastering, as well as broadening his knowledge of jazz harmony and guitar.

He currently plays in two cover bands and a duo, playing a variety of private and corporate gigs around the North Island.

While he is at heart a guitarist, he is also a proficient bassist and dabbles in piano and drums in the studio.

 Josh is keen to share what he knows and is passionate about encouraging musical learning.

jonathan hawthorn

TEACHING:  Keyboard, Vocals

Jonathan is currently a student at Wintec studying the new Bachelor of Music and Performance Arts (Theatre) degree. Alongside his numerous theatre credits on Hamilton stages, he has also played as a keyboardist in show bands, conducts a women's choir, and will be the musical director for Riverlea Theatre's production of Mamma Mia later in 2020. Jonathan has training in Piano and Vocals covering many different styles ranging from classical styles to rock 'n' roll and even barbershop singing. He also has relevant guitar experience. His passion, however, is musical theatre where he dedicates his spare time both on and off the stage. 

jessica ruck nu'u

TEACHING:  Vocals, Drama

Curly haired, enthusiastic and bubbly, Jessica has always been passionate about the arts. Jessica graduated from the Wintec School of Media Art in 2020 with a major in performance (voice) and is constantly involved in shows and events around the Waikato. Whether it’s a theatre show, musical or concert, Jessica loves to be involved in it all! 
As a professional gigging musician, Jessica can most commonly be found behind her guitar playing at a variety of both private and corporate gigs with her duo and cover band, The Meraki. She is primarily a vocalist, trained in contemporary singing but is also proficient with a guitar and keyboard.
Jessica enjoys that Ignite provides her with many opportunities to pass on her knowledge and love for music and theatre.

emma thornton

TEACHING:  Vocals

Emma made the decision to leap into the world of Performing Arts after high school on a whim. Slowly she began to thrive in this environment, breaking out of her shell. Growing up an extremely shy person is always hard, especially when you have a passion for singing.  Nonetheless the arts impacted Emma’s life for the better, going from someone who wouldn’t dare to speak to becoming the lead in a musical theatre show, Hairspray, and participating in many more! Emma has recently completed her Bachelor in Commercial Music, majoring in musical performance and songwriting. Emma has had awesome experiences in the New Zealand music industry from solo and band live performances to recording backup vocals for NZ artists.
Emma has an emotional approach to teaching, especially with vocals and loves helping students thrive in the musical environment.

JUNIOR TEACHERS

Junior Teacher lessons are now an integral part of our academy. We believe it is important to nurture outstanding talent, create more incredible teachers and offer our students options for different levels (and costs) of teaching. Our Junior Teachers are selected from our own top students and are enrolled in our Junior Teacher Apprentice Program, which trains and develops them into fantastic tutors.

Junior DANCE teachers work alongside our experienced dance teachers in the studio.

Our Junior MUSIC teachers teach independently, to younger musicians aged between 6 - 12 years old. 

joshua nelson

JUNIOR TEACHING : Drums

Joshua was born in Kansas City, USA, son of Ignite directors, Ray and Maxine.  
He has been learning and playing the drums since 2012, along with guitar and keyboard, all at Ignite. He is also regularly involved playing and performing with his own Ignite band ‘We Meet Every Friday’, school bands and church worship team. 

Other areas Josh is actively working and assisting in include Digital Media, Graphic design and Film.  He also loves to get out on his longboard and shooting baskets with his brother.

Josh started junior teaching for Ignite early in 2019. He is excited to share his talent with kids keen to learn.  

jacob nelson

JUNIOR TEACHER:  Guitar

ADMIN TEAM

jessica judge

GRAPHIC DESIGNER (CONSULTANT)

Jessica moved to Cambridge 10 years ago from Sydney, via Auckland (for a short stint). She studied, and has qualifications in Marketing, Graphic Design and Television production. She is also a self-taught photographer and works as a freelancer for the Resene Habitat magazine. Passionate about helping small businesses get ahead, Jessica’s work revolves around ensuring her clients have a marketing and design presence that guarantees they stand out from their competitors. Jessica’s clients range from Food Retail, Real Estate, Performing Arts to Health, Plumbers, Interior Design and Engineering firms. 

In her free time, she enjoys the summer months, out boating and waterskiing with family, and during winter, hunkering down with a great book in front of the fire.

For more info on Jessica, and how she could help with your business, email her on jessica@cojuconsulting.com  

kat fielding

MARKETING MANAGER

Kathy and her husband, along with their three children, recently emigrated to Cambridge, at the start of 2021. Kathy has a creative background in performing arts and Marketing Management. She is passionate about working within the community and supporting the creative arts.

courtney richmond

HEAD OF DANCE DEPARTMENT

Courtney has been dancing since the time she could walk. Throughout her school years she trained in Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, and Contemporary dance, completing examinations to high results in both the NZAMD and RAD syllabus. During this time she competed in contemporary and jazz competitions through the lower north island. Courtney started teaching at her local dance studio as a teenager, as well as taking leadership roles in choreography and organising of arts events at her high school. She  moved to Hamilton in 2016 to study English, theatre, and dance at the University of Waikato on a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship. 

During this time she has attended and performed at the 2016 Tertiary Dance festival, performed for the Waikato Contemporary Dance Projects Trust  2016 - 2019, and was President of Unity Dance Club 2017 and 2018. While studying in 2017 she developed a passion for Community Dance practices and integrated communities which lead her to volunteering as a dance facilitator for Life Unlimited and pursuing further study in this area. Courtney is now back at the university, after taking a year break to travel, and is studying towards her Master's Degree looking at Community and Integrated Dance practices. 

brenda alexa bell

MUSIC PROGRAM COORDINATOR  (Schools, Ignite)


 

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