Lizeth Leonhardt Avalos

Lizeth Leonhardt Avalos won the RAD Members’ Photo Competition with a picture of her daughter. The Mexican ballet teacher discusses her journey into teaching, the RAD teachers who influenced her and starting a new life in Canada.

Dance Gazette | RAD Q&A | Issue 5 - Oct 2022

Lizeth Leonhardt Avalos won the RAD Members’ Photo Competition with a picture of her daughter. She discusses her journey into teaching and leaving Mexico for Canada.

Congratulations on winning the photo competition, Lizeth! How do you feel?

I can’t explain it, I’m still in shock! I’m so happy and thankful. Honestly, the past two years have been full of monumental moments in my life, and this is one of them.

Where did you begin dancing?

I was born in Morelia in Michoacán, Mexico and started dancing ballet at four years old. My mom enrolled me in ballet classes but when it was time to go to university my grandparents said: no more ballet, it’s only a hobby and you have to focus on your career and the family business. So that’s what I did – I used to work in the morning and went to university in the afternoon. I graduated as an accountant and got an MBA, specialising in finance. I was working but still wanted to be a ballet teacher. My grandmother gave me some money to start a business, but instead of using it to open a business I used it to pay for my CBTS.

Who were your most influential teachers?

My first ballet teacher was Lourdes de Alzua who made me fall in love with ballet. When I moved to Queretaro, Julieta Navarro, the RAD’s National Director in Mexico and an amazing lady, recommended me to Consuelo Dueñas. She was tough and extremely honest: when I arrived she told me that my technique was deficient and she would not present me in the exam. I said, wow, this woman is exactly what I need!

Once you know her she is the most amazing person. She was my teacher, my mentor, my friend and I will always be thankful to her. She shared all her knowledge and experience, she really cared about me. With her support I started my CBTS. She taught me to be a teacher. 

At the same time, I also worked in a huge school with Asereth Salazar and learned a lot from her too. She has a real gift, making miracles, making things happen, and being honest all the time, no matter what. A pure example to follow.

When did you qualify as an RAD teacher?

It was in 2016. I went to London seven months pregnant with my daughter Rachel and was in a wheelchair. I had to buy bigger shoes the day before my graduation because my feet were so swollen! When I look at photos from that day, I know that Rachel was in my tummy as I received my certificate from Darcey Bussell [the RAD President] – and now she is in her own picture as the winner of this amazing competition. I couldn’t be happier!

Where do you teach now?

We used to live in Queretaro, Mexico but moved to Canada in December 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Just before my son’s passport expired we took a flight, leaving our home, our life and our belongings in Queretaro. We went to Canada to start a new life. My husband is Canadian and my children have dual citizenship but I don’t, so for a year and a half I couldn’t return to Mexico or travel abroad until I received my permanent residency in Canada.

Finally I can travel again and right now we are in Mexico, enjoying the perfect weather that I didn’t appreciate until we moved away. That’s why the competition photo has a deeper meaning to me – for someone coming from a country with amazing weather the whole year round, Canada is a big change. Now I appreciate every warm, sunny day.

Teaching is my passion. When life started opening up again and restrictions were removed, I started looking for a ballet school for my daughter and eventually they invited me to teach again. In Mexico I used to teach in Spanish, but now I do it in English – another big change! I have met an amazing new ballet family with my adorable students, my daughter is dancing and loving it – and now I’ve won the photo competition. I feel blessed in every single way.

Advice Bureau post

Freddie Opoku-Addaie

Dance Gazette

Read more

REST OF Issue 5 - Oct 2022

Queen Elizabeth ii and Prince Philip, London June 2017- Trooping the Colour parade Queen Elizabeth, prince philip (Duke of Edinburgh) parade for Queen Birthday (Prince Philip last trooping retired)

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on 8 September aged 96, after reigning for 70 years. She had been Patron of the RAD since 1953.


Ambassadors assemble

The RAD has been part of dancing life for both Céline Gittens and Steven McRae, from early steps to becoming principal dancers. Now, as the RAD’s new ambassadors, they share experiences.


Happiness. Inc

What makes a happy organisation? As the RAD asks its members how they feel about the Academy, Ella Satin explores what makes for a happy company or workplace.


Home and away

Teaching is a portable skill, one that can carry you across the world. Jane Albert meets RAD teachers who have made new lives in completely new countries.


Safe spaces

Isaac Ouro-Gnao meets ballerinas and young dancers from Ukraine who have fled the Russian invasion and building new lives.

Art of the matter post

Art at any price

Gerard Charles, the RAD’s Artistic Director, argues that arts education is being undervalued.

Big Picture post

Open city

RAD Japan has collaborated with Toshima International City Of Arts & Culture on a vibrant new photo project.

Inside RAD post

Stepping out

Step Into Dance held its first festival for three years at London’s Cadogan Hall.

Advice Bureau post

Freddie Opoku-Addaie

Say no with the same conviction as yes! Freddie Opoku-Addaie of Dance Umbrella shares his best advice.

Playlist post

Charlotte Darbyshire

The artistic director of Candoco chooses music with special memories for her.

Why Dance Matters post

Kathryn Morgan

American ballerina Kathryn Morgan on ballet, body shaming and the joy of dance.


Permission to dance

K-pop’s high-concept dances have conquered the world from their native Korea. In Seoul’s dance studios, David D Lee meets both tourists and students determined to break into the industry.


Dance on prescription

Can dance help both patients and healthcare professionals? Rosemary Waugh investigates.