mishel finlayson

Founder & Director

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Mishel grew up surrounded by dance, with her parents passing on their love of ballet and ballroom, however it wasn’t until her first trip to Rio de Janeiro in 2003 that she developed her passion for Brazilian dance.

Mishel has spent the past 15 years travelling back and forth to Rio, studying extensively under the guidance of Brazilian Samba Queens, developing exclusive business contacts with the Carnival industry and becoming fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. For the past 8 years she has conducted her Sambaliscious Rio Tours, which introduce foreigners to the magnificent city of Samba, culminating in a performance on a float as part of a samba school in the Rio Carnival parade.

In 2014, Mishel represented Australia as its very first Destaque (highlight) on a float, performing with Caprichosos de Pilares samba school, and followed with the role of Principal Destaque of the opening float for Paraiso do Tuitui in 2016.

In 2017, Mishel performed as the first Australian Muse in Grupo Acesso (2nd division) for Estacio de Sa, and in 2019 performed as the very first Australian to perform in Grupo Especial (1st division) in the history of Rio Carnival, for one of Rio’s most traditional Samba schools, Imperio Serrano.

Mishel is the founder and producer of the Australasian Samba Queen Competition (Australia), the World Samba Congress and World Samba Queen Competition (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

Mishel has also studied other dance styles as Zouk Lambada, Samba de Gafieira, Flamenco, Salsa, Stiletto dance, Egyptian Belly dance and Hawaiian Hula, all of which have contributed to her very unique style. She has travelled the world and taught thousands of women to dance whilst inspiring them to be fit, healthy and confident. She is also a qualified Yoga instructor.

Mishel has a Bachelor of Languages and Linguistics, with a major in Japanese and minors in Spanish and French. She is a qualified English language instructor, and credits her university teacher training to helping her become an efficient, inspiring and vibrant dance instructor.

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