Joanne began modern dance classes while studying physical education at Rusden College. She graduated in 1979 and became Head of Physical Education Department at Sunshine High School, Victoria. In 1980 she resigned to further her studies in dance.
In Melbourne she studied classical with Lynn Golding and Kathleen Gorham and then travelled to the United States, where she attended the American Dance Festival, North Carolina, and studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York. Joanne worked with Tasdance as a dancer and teacher for a year and was one of the original members of Tasdance in 1981.