Prominent Bundaberg resident, Les Newman O.A.M., passed away March 12, 2015. Photo: contributed
Prominent Bundaberg resident, Les Newman O.A.M., passed away March 12, 2015. Photo: contributed contributed

A life in dance

PROMINENT Bundaberg resident Les Newman OAM, died on March 12.

Mr Newman spent much of his professional life, 34 years in total, in arts administration across Australia and the world as president of Comdance, the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing.

He's also remembered by many for co-creating the hit ABC show, That's Dancin', with Brian Finch in the 1980s that spawned copy TV programs the world over.

Mr Newman was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1996.

He was born in Collingwood, Victoria, on November 29, 1930.

In the 1950s, in Melbourne, Mr Newman became a professional dancer where he met and later married Maureen Costello, herself an acclaimed professional ballroom and Latin dancer.

As a businessman in the 1960s, Mr Newman worked with major multinationals like Kalamazoo and became such a force in Australian sales and marketing that he was made a Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute and for some years Leslie P Newman & Associates ran regular management and marketing seminars for senior executives in Melbourne's St Kilda Road and Royal Park.

Therefore, it was with "a degree of reluctance" that Mr Newman accepted the nomination to become President of the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing in 1976, intending to serve one year.

He was to lead Comdance for over three decades until his retirement in 2010.

He was chairman of the Australian Dancing Board, vice-president of the Asian Pacific Dance Council as well as Australia's delegate to the World Dance Council in London.

He was awarded the Australian Dancing Board's Gold Brolga for Outstanding Service to Dance in 1993.

Mr Newman travelled often after retiring to the sunshine in Queensland and became a member of the Bundaberg Golf Club, as well as a number of other local social and musical clubs.

He is survived by wife Maureen and his son Michael.



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