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 the creative arts.
  • give teachers the opportunity and place to develop their skill and passion in the arts.

Our Ignite Team


ray & maxine nelson


TEACHING: Keyboard

Ray is a passionate entrepreneur with 27 years in music education.  An accomplished musician himself, he has owned and operated several successful music studios over the yeras 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.  Ray also teaches keyboard classes using the very successful "Simply Music" method which is the largest playing based method in the world.

has been married to Ray for 29 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.

lance uerata

TEACHING:  Hip Hop/Krump/Creative Body Movement

Lance is an experienced Krump and Hip Hop dancer of 8 years, Leader of the Waikato Krump Movement, and a member of NEXUS DC a Waikato all style dance crew.

He has studied Team Leadership in Business management, and has completed multiple dance workshops and tutorials This has given him the knowledge and tools to successfully coach Hip Hop and Krump classes to all ages.
Over the last two years Lance and fellow dancers have held open style dance jams in Hamilton to build awareness of what dance has to offer for the people in the Waikato community. He also competes in numerous all-style and krump events nationwide. 
Won the : Mos Street Champion 2018,
Creative Waikato sponsorship for All Style Championships 2019, Founder of Buck By Nature Krump Event 2019 and Battle co ordinator for Battlegrounds 2019. Performed at the Hamilton Arts festival, Hamilton Culture festival, Sevens Rugby launch party and many charity events in the Waikato area.

He has four children and a loving partner of 15 years. This is one of the reasons he is very passionate about providing mature, and youth ages, in our communities, the tools to freely express their emotions and creativity through dance in a safe and supportive environment.

leandrie young

TEACHING:  Contemporary, Senior Jazz, Ballet

Leandrie has trained in Ballet, completing her exams with distinction. She has also completed the Urban syllabus with full distinction and received an additional award for presentation and performance. She has trained in the BBO, TDI, NZAMD and RAD syllabus. Throughout her schooling days Leandrie also trained in tap, contemporary and character dancing. After a few years competing in Ballet and Jazz,  Leandrie moved to Hamilton and started to pursue Ballroom and Latin dancing. She won her first National Title in 2012 (Youth Ballroom) and since then has won 6 more. In Leandrie’s final year of high school she started working as a dance teacher, teaching hip hop and tap. She was also very involved in her school’s productions and was dance prefect in her final year at school. Leandrie has choreographed and danced for several fundraising events, the most recent being for Breast cancer and the Cambridge Autumn festival.

Leandrie is in her 4th year of Medical school and is placed in Waikato hospital this year. She is still competing in Ballroom and is very excited to be teaching contemporary this year.

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 first 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.

zoe allan

TEACHING:  Jazz Ballet Junior

Zoe has spent much of her growing years in and around dance studios.  She has studied in Ballet for eleven years, Jazz for eight years, and has taken part in contemporary classes at Drapers Academy of Dance in Pukekohe. She has sat and passed her dance exams each year, from pre-grade one onwards as well as performed in many end of year shows dancing in jazz, ballet, pointe and contemporary.

Presently she is in her second year of a Degree in Primary Teaching at University of Waikato. Whilst having danced for the majority of her life, she has also been an active Junior Club Captain of the Waiuku Yacht Club - leading a youth team to the national regatta in 2018, played competitively in both netball and soccer, studied guitar for 8+ years and volunteered with the Hamilton Branch of StarJam, helping out in dance sessions for differently abled young people. 

She enjoys expressing herself to music, and has a wide appreciation of music.  She encourages everyone to listen, feel and dance to the music in a fun and comforting environment.

simon folkard

TEACHING:  Guitar, Drum, Band

Simon Folkard has been a gigging musician since the age of 14, usually fronting bands as lead vocalist and guitarist. He has toured extensively across NZ, playing alongside top NZ acts such as Dane Rumble, Midnite Youth, and Devilskin. Simon has enjoyed multiple television appearances and regular radio airplay with the musical projects he has been involved with over the years, and has recorded several albums in some of the best studios in NZ. Simon currently plays lead guitar in “The Jason McIver Collective”, after previously playing bass guitar in the band. He also plays in a covers duo, with regular gigs around the Waikato and surrounding areas.   

He is currently completing his Bachelor of Music in Performing Arts at Wintec. Simon is a passionate and approachable tutor, who enjoys teaching and helping students increase their skills and musical knowledge.

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 is currently studying his final year of his 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 plays in a cover band and in 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.

andrew carter

TEACHING:  Guitar, Drums

Andrew is a multi-talented musician specialising in guitar and drums. He is the front man, vocalist and guitarist for a heavy metal band and has toured New Zealand, Australia and China performing his original songs. He is also an experienced music producer and has a vast musical knowledge in multiple genres - he's even composed a string quartet which was performed live at the Meteor Theatre at the end of 2018.

Andrew completed a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Commercial Music at Wintec and graduated in 2018 receiving a special award for Sound Production.

Aside from music Andrew served as a volunteer fireman for 6 years and received a medal in 2017 for good conduct and dedication to his community.

christine daverne


Christine's work experience includes working as a Drama, Singing and Musical Theatre teacher, while also lecturing and tutoring in Business Communications at Unitec Institute of Technology, in Auckland. One of her specialist subjects, and something she is very passionate about is, Public Speaking.

Christine has previously sung in professional theatre in New Zealand and Australia, and run a successful singing and drama school in Auckland. She also has experience directing, tutoring, musical directing and choreographing in community theatre. 

Her passion is drama and musical theatre, and she has been heavily involved in youth community theatre, teaching children drama, dance and singing skills. An example of one of her productions can be found on YouTube (Cats of Ponsonby). In this production, her students were all first-timers and were taught singing, and drama skills for stage.

Her students sat their Trinity College of London Musical Theatre Exams (grades 1-8 and A.T.C.L) and all achieved Distinction in these exams. Examiners even commented on their strong drama, singing and musical ability;  excellent technical skills in drama, singing and dance, and how well prepared they were. 

Christine is excited about bringing her considerable skills to Cambridge, and working with her new students at Ignite.

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


Curly haired, enthusiastic and bubbly, Jessica has always been passionate about the arts. Currently studying music at Wintec School of Media Art, she majors 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.

sheryl krissansen

TEACHING:  Seniors Dance

I started dance at age four having joined Miss Phyllis Marmont Dance Studio located in Pt Chevalier Auckland. I was then accepted into the National Ballet school of Mrs Bernice McGough to further ballet studies through to major grades.
I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to study and successfully compete in National Highland Dance Competitions, held throughout New Zealand, whilst gaining advanced Dip. Majors in all studies of ballet, tap and jazz.
Having hung up my competition shoes and costumes in my mid teens, I was approached to rejoin Miss Pat McMinn (OBE), a singer & choreographer of the Mignonettes Dance Troupe, to become a permanent member of the troupe. regularly featuring at the prestigious venue; the Peter Pan Cabaret in Auckland. 
I later turned my hand to teaching dance and am proud of the truly wonderful successes and rewards that have come my way.


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. 

grace howells


Grace started Ballet and Hip Hop at 4 and started competing at the age 10.
In recent years Grace has won under 16 regional soloist, has been awarded scholarships at Phoenix Dance Workshop and has been selected to travel to LA on a Dance Tour.
This year, Grace will be choreographing two dance troupes to compete at Dance NZ Made Nationals, hoping to travel to America attending auditions in Hollywood with She Shines On.
She also hopes to sit NZAMD Jazz Advanced 2 and compete in “freestyle” with the Star Awards. Grace has sat exams in NZAMD Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz and ATOD Contemporary, achieving highly in Jazz where she has gone through levels 2 through advanced 1 receiving high grades.

joshua nelson


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 last in 2019. He is excited to share his talent with kids keen to learn.  

talia beattie


Talia has always been an artistically driven person and found a love for music at a very young age, with heavy influence from her dad who is a multi-talented musician himself.

Contrary to this, she started out as a dancer training in American Jazz for around 9 years. In 2018 she hung up her jazz shoes to invest in music and found herself being recruited by the academy as a Junior Teacher.

She is primarily a lover of keys but also dabbles in plenty of other instruments in her spare time including guitar and flute.

Although she is still in school herself, she loves being able to expand her musical knowledge here at Ignite and pass it on to kids following the same path as her. After being a part of the holiday workshops over the years as both a student and assistant, she has a huge appreciation for the academy and has found it a very rewarding experience thus far.


jessica judge


Jessica moved to Cambridge 10 years ago from Sydney, via Auckland (for a short stint). She studied, and has qualifications in Business 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  

linda kingston


Linda doesn’t dance, can’t play a musical instrument but does enjoy a good sing a long in the car. What she lacks in these areas is made up for in her bookeeping skills.
Linda joins our team with many years experience with a large ballet school in Sydney and many years working in a number of Industries in New Zealand.
She is a wife and proud mum two sons, and an active member of the Cambridge Baskeball community 


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