MISHEL FINLAYSON

Founder and 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 21 years travelling back and forth to Rio, studying extensively under the guidance of Brazilian Samba instructors, developing exclusive business contacts with the Carnival industry and becoming fluent in Brazilian Portuguese.

For the past 10 years she has conducted her Sambaliscious Rio Carnival Tours, which have introduced over 500+ foreigners to the magnificent City of Samba!

In 2014, Mishel represented Australia as its very first Destaque (highlight) on a float in the Rio Carnival, performing with Caprichosos de Pilares 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 very first Australian Muse in the history of Rio Carnival, performing on the Samba avenue for Rio’s oldest samba school, Estacio de Sa (2nd division), and then again in 2019 in the highest division of Carnival with Rio’s most traditional Samba school, Imperio Serrano.

Mishel is the founder and producer of the Australasian Samba Queen Competition (Australia) and launched the very first World Samba Congress and Samba Queen Competition in Rio in 2017.

In 2021 Mishel launched the world’s first comprehensive online Samba Teacher Training programme in English and has so far trained dozens of teachers from Europe, Asia, USA and Australia to build their own Samba businesses.

Mishel has also taught and performed other Brazilian dance styles such as Zouk Lambada, Samba de Gafieira and Forro, and has a passion for Salsa, Flamenco, Bellydance and Hula, all of which have contributed to her very unique style.

She has travelled the world and taught thousands of women to dance in over 15 countries, whilst inspiring them to be fit, healthy and confident. She is also a qualified Yoga instructor and is passionate about injury prevention to ensure longevity in her dance career.

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.

Mishel has been featured in Brazilian Vogue, Who + She Magazines and GLOBO TV, The Uk Daily Mail, Australia’s Courier Mail and Style magazine, and ABC + SBS radio.