Member Profile : Gail Hewton

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Gail Hewton is a passionate Community Dance Practitioner working exclusively in dance for older people leading classes, workshops, performances, projects and dance experiences. Gail has 40 years professional dance experience including as a dancer, choreographer, educator and producer. Gail has extensive dance teaching and leading experience including in primary and high schools, universities, professional dance companies, private dance studios and community. Gail has choreographed professional contemporary dance works for Expressions Dance Company; Ballet Theatre of Qld; The Cherry Herring and others; and community events for South Bank Parklands; John Aitken Productions; Toowoomba Hospital Mental Health; Drama Queensland; to name a few. After several years working in high profile arts and event management including as Program Manager at Brisbane Powerhouse, Producer at RiverFestival and Brisbane Festival; and Director at Noosa Longweekend Festival; Gail returned in 2012 to teaching and leading dance, establishing RIPE Dance (because dance Really Is Possible for Everyone!) to focus on bringing the joy and many benefits of dance to older populations. She successfully works with active and agile over 55s, aged care residents with and without dementia, and people living independently with mobility challenges due to ageing issues, ill-health, surgery or particular conditions. Gail’s work is underpinned by a relational approach, and whilst it is foremost about dance it has major consideration to improve health and wellbeing and allow participants to experience dance in a fun, safe, welcoming and supportive environment. In 2016 Gail co-programmed and co-facilitated the first national Advanced Teaching Training for teachers of dance for Parkinson’s. In 2017 Gail received Ausdance Qld’s Osmotherly Award for her contribution to dance education; an RADF grant to assist the creation of In A Different Space, a film showcasing seniors 60-101 years dancing their stories (to date screened at 14 national & international events and festivals), as well as an Arts Queensland grant to travel to the UK in 2018 to investigate dance for older people. Gail has presented at and/or attended Mature Moves unconvention (Hobart); Creative Ageing Symposium (Brisbane); Thrive Creative Ageing Forum (Nambour); People Dancing Summer School (UK); Arts Health Queensland Network Inaugural Forum (Brisbane); Ausdance NSW’s Creative Ageing Forum (Sydney); BOLD conference (Canberra); and Social Connection in Older Age Symposium (Brisbane).

Gail was the project consultant for Ausdance Victoria’s 2017-18 research project Leading and Teaching Dance to Ageing Populations. She is developing professional development and training programs for health, care and dance practitioners interested in working in this field and continues to initiate and lead dance projects, events and experiences with and for her community. Gail holds a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) and a Diploma of Teaching (Secondary – Commerce/Maths). More recently Gail has completed online courses including Understanding Dementia and Preventing Dementia (University of Tasmania); and Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health (The Neuroscience Academy). Gail is now Noosa based after making the sea change from Brisbane 11 years ago.

See Gail at Pecha Kucha and inclusion in Elders Exhibition