Award recognises excellence in dance

THE inaugural Leslie P Newman Award for Outstanding Service to Dance has been presented in Perth to a dance teacher with 45 years in the industry.

The national award is named after Bundaberg resident Les Newman OAM, described by Comdance president Diane Gepp as a legend, "his integrity and his passion without peer".

Mr Newman served as president of Comdance (the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing) for 34 years.

He died suddenly in March this year.

"The executive committee wanted to recognise such service with an award," MsGepp said.

"This award was open to all members to nominate someone they felt represented these attributes over a significant time."

The trophy was won by leading Western Australian dance figure Gail Meade who began her career choreographing stage and television work and toured with the Borovansky Ballet Company before opening her own school in Wangara, the Gail Meade Performing Arts Centre.

During her 45 years of teaching, Ms Meade's graduate students have been accepted into the Australian Ballet School, the New Zealand Ballet School, the Salzburg Ballet Company, Cirque Dreams New York, the Western Australia Ballet Company, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the Victorian College of the Arts, Royal Caribbean and Princess cruise lines, Brent Street Performing Arts School, Next Step Dance Academy and Disneyland Tokyo, among others.

The specially designed crystal shield, presented to Ms Meade by Maureen Newman, features the three lions rampant crest of the Newman family, together with the Latin motto "discipline, passion, integrity".

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