About MSDA

The Marina Saldanha Dance Academy in Ashburn was opened due to a lack of artistic opportunities for young people, and I found myself having to travel to major towns to gain these experiences. The dance school aims to provide quality and value to the parents and children who attend, and above all, bring joy and fulfilment.

Since September 2013, we’ve used our beautiful dance studios in Dart Mills, Buckfastleigh. Just off the A38 and next to Dart Rock climbing centre, there is plenty of convenient, free parking. We still offer some classes in Ashburn, so make sure to check out our timetable for more details.

Marina Saldanha

I’ve been a professional dance teacher in Devon for the past 15 years, branching out on my own after teaching in Newton Abbott for 10 years.

Originally hailing from Kent, I attended the Welling Dance Academy between the ages of 3 and 11. Whilst there, I gained a place at the Junior Associates in the Royal Ballet School London, which I attended twice a week for three years. At the age of 11, I gained a full scholarship to The Arts Educational School, where I trained until I was 18. Throughout this time, I gained all my major exams in RAD and ISTD, and gained my Associate Teaching Diplomas.

Whilst still in school, I had the wonderful experience of performing with the Festival Ballet (now known as the English National Ballet) many times in the Royal Festival Hall London and the London Coliseum Theatre, with Rudolf Nureyev as Guest Star!

Upon leaving Arts Education, I decided to work professionally for a few years, but decided to form my own Dance Company at the age of 21. My Company was highly successful, with us working worldwide for 16 years in numerous theatres, cruise ships, casinos and making regular TV appearances.

In 2001, I decided to return to teaching dance and have been doing so in Devon ever since. I have added to my teaching qualifications, gaining my FDI and CDE in ISTD. I offer dance lessons in a number of styles, including:

  • Ballet
  • Modern dance
  • Tap

I have three lovely children and a wonderfully supportive husband. My experience, qualifications and passion for dance make the Marina Saldanha Dance Academy successful and enjoyable for all.
For more information about our dance classes, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0791 919 0001 or email marina1saldanha@yahoo.co.uk.

Isla and Abi


Miss Sonja Lincoln

Sonja was trained in Cheltenham by Mrs Janet Marshall, one of the ISTD’s major examiners, and performed in many professional shows and pantomimes in the local area whilst growing up.

As a teenager she attended the Gloucestershire Academy of Performing Arts, studying Dance, Drama, and Music where Sonja was selected for a special performance at the Royal College of Music, and in 2001 she graduated from Liverpool J.M. University, gaining a BA Hons Degree in Dance and Drama and a Professional Diploma in Jazz Dance.

She then moved down to Devon and gained her qualifications as a dance teacher in ISTD:

  • Classical ballet
  • Modern theatre
  • Tap

More recently, Sonja returned to college in London to study for a Contemporary Music and Singing Diploma at Vocaltech Vocal School, where she graduated top of her class and was awarded Best Live Performer of the Year 2003.

As well as teaching dance, drama, and singing, Sonja currently fronts an eight piece soul band, in and around the South West as well as being a regular guest vocalist with the Plymouth Co-Operative Big Band. Sonja is now in her 5th year of teaching for Monkey Music Exeter and Torbay franchises, providing music, and movement classes for babies and young children.


Tishian Montello 

Tishian, is Marina Saldanha’s daughter and was trained locally in Devon. She has her DDI teaching exams and gained the highest mark out of all who were entered, giving her the qualifications needed to enter pupils for ISTD exams.

Tishian has been performing on stage since she was 4 years old and danced in many pantomimes, festivals and summer season shows.

She is currently performing in “Spellbound” at Babbacombe Theatre weekly and has been performing there for the past 4 years!

Tishian is a fresh, young and very enthusiastic teacher, who inspires the children to dance through her own ability and passion for dance. She is teaches:

  • Commercial dance
  • Lyrical modern ballet
  • Modern dance
  • Tap
  • Ballet

Tishian works hard to enable our pupils to become accomplished all-round dancers. Choreography is her passion and she regularly creates solo and group dances for competitions.