Sue-Ellen's early training was in classical ballet. In 1977 she studied full-time with Ballet Victoria. With the establishment of the Victorian College of the Arts in 1978, Sue-Ellen was included in the first intake of students. At VCA, she studied classical ballet with Anne Woolliams and modern dance with Nanette Hassall, and was involved in several contemporary performances.
Sue-Ellen became a member of the Tasmanian Dance Company (Tasdance) in September 1982, she continued dancing with the company until the end of 1984. In January 1984, she was one of 24 Australian dancers to participate in the Australian and New Zealand Dance course for Professional Choreographers and Composers.