Our Instructors

Leonardo Neves is one of the (Directors & owners of Brazilian Beatz Dance Academy) began dancing at 8 years old as an after school program, this is where his passion for Dance began. From this, Leo spent the next 6 years attending various dance schools in Rio de Janeiro, studying Bolero, Soltinho, Samba De Gafieira, Samba no pé, Lindy hop, Salsa and Forro. 


When he was 12 years old, Leo began learning from Zouk creators; Renata and Adilio, in their Dance Company. Here Leo studied Brazilian Zouk, and other Brazilian and Latin Dance styles for 7 Years. Over this time he performed with the company at different events including Congresses and Theatres. He competed with various dance partners and won 1st Place in the “Onda Zouk“ Competition with his dance partner at the time; Vanessa Ferreira, Which was the first Brazilian Zouk Competition in Rio de Janeiro. After some time he became the dance partner of Renata Pecanha, travelling, teaching regular classes, Workshops, Congresses and performing with her across Brazil at the age of 15. 


From 2009 to 2012 Leo traveled both Nationally (in Brazil) and Internationally teaching and performing from small events to some of the biggest Congresses in the World With His dance partner at the time; Layssa Liebscher. 


At the beginning of 2013 Leonardo started his new partnership with Becky Crystal. They traveled all around the world teaching in many countries such as Czech Republic, Brazil, Ukraine, Netherland, Switzerland, Cyprus, USA, Australia, Bali, Singapore, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Belgium, Austria, Croatia and many others, where they were invited by local teachers and organisers to help the local communities and teachers to grow with their dance. Leo also travels with Becky Crystal to give teachers courses around the world so the local teachers can grow their communities with quality . 


Leo is an instructor in Christchurch, New Zealand, teaching Brazilian and Latin Dance Classes, specialising in Salsa, Bachata, Brazilian Zouk, Forró, Samba No Pé, Kizomba, Boléro, Soltinho, Samba De Gafieira, Merengue, Funk, Axé, Lambada and other dance styles.


He studied 3 years of Tap dance, Ballet, Contemporary, contact & Improvisation, Capoeira and other styles.


At Brazilian Beatz we have an incredible team of dance instructors, come along and meet them at our next beginners dance class!

Kat Maxwell has been dancing Latin styles such as Salsa and Bachata since 2012 in Christchurch. After being introduced to Samba De Gafieira in 2013 she soon discovered Brazilian Zouk that same year which ignited her true passion for dance. 

Since then, she has trained in Forro, Bolero, Soltinho, Samba no Pe, Cha Cha and Contemporary as an addition to the above.

She has trained, competed and performed with E Dance Productions in Cha Cha and on2 Salsa (Mambo) in New Zealand and Australia.

Kat is trained in education, she studied at the University of Canterbury in a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning in primary education. This coupled with her training with Leo and Becky at Brazilian Beatz as their student since 2015, part of their team from 2016, and then as one of their teachers since 2018, Kat has extensive experience in teaching holistically, incorporating various learning styles into her pedagogy.

Training with Leo and Becky as part of their team at Brazilian Beatz has inspired her to take the skills and techniques she has learnt to competitions in New Zealand, Australia and Brazil.

At the beginning of 2020 Kat travelled to Brazil for 6 weeks of intensive training in Brazilian Zouk, to progress her own dancing and to bring back the information, flavour, and passion for her students. This trip saw her competing in the Rio Zouk Congress Intermediate Jack and Jill and completing her certificate in Renata Peçanha’s 2020 week-long Teachers Course. As she believes that a being a teacher means being a student for a lifetime.

Yuri started his dance journey in Christchurch, New Zealand, dancing Ballroom at the age of 8. Over the course of 2 years, he qualified for silver medals in both Latin and New Vogue with high commendations for the NZ federation of dance teachers inc., along with many first, second, and third placings. Over the next 10 years he danced Ballroom intermittently while focusing on his schoolwork in Primary and Secondary schools.

Yuri then went to the University of Canterbury in 2015. It was there that he discovered the University Dance Club – U Can Dance which reignited his passion for dance, this time in Street Latin styles such as Salsa, Bachata and Merengue, and Modern Jive. This led to his discovery of Brazilian Zouk through a 5-week specialty course. After seeing the artists demo, he was hooked, and after the 5-week course was completed he participated in Christchurch’s contingent of the Worldwide International Zouk Day.

During this time he also joined Latin Fire to further pursue Salsa, Bachata and Cha Cha to which he then competed and performed with their team.

Yuri soon joined Leo and Becky at their newly opened school Brazilian Beatz Dance Academy to learn Brazilian Zouk from them which then developed into joining the Brazilian Beatz Team, and then the Teachers Team in 2017. Being a part of the Team at Brazilian Beatz gave Yuri the opportunity to learn and develop in the Brazilian styles of dance such as Brazilian Zouk, Samba de Gafieira, Samba no Pe, Bolero, Forro, Soltinho and Funk. 


He has competed nationally in NZ and internationally in Australia in Brazilian Zouk. Placing third in 2018 in the Novice category in the international competition Jack & Jill at Casa Do Zouk on the Gold Coast, then progressing him to Intermediate. He then placed first in the team’s category with Brazilian Beatz, another first in the open freestyle section with Kat Maxwell, both in 2019 at the South Island Latin competition in NZ. 


Yuri has an extreme eye for detail, logic and problem solving and has been DJing at Brazilian Beatz for the last few years. This along with his training with Leo and Becky has developed his passion in teaching, giving emphasis to technique, and making dance feel natural and comfortable, giving his students the skills and knowledge to adapt to any kind of music to make any dance enjoyable.