The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Technical Committee

Technical CommitteeThe Technical Committee are appointed for the purpose of fostering correct and recognised techniques in Highland and National Dancing. Members of the committee prepare and conduct examinations, and provide ongoing training for Academy members. The many skills and talents within this hard working Committee over the years have seen them successfully complete projects as diverse as the preparation of new examination syllabuses, research the lesser known dances of Scotland through to the preparation of an instruction video for teachers and young dancers.

Sherilyn Hall (Technical Director)
Pamela Fleming
Julie Hawke
Sue Gill
Jacqueline Jones
Cushla Piesse
Robyn Simmons QSM
Elizabeth Smith
Adele Swanson

 

Sherilyn Hall (Technical Director)

My love for Highland and National Dancing commenced when I was 5 years old and began lessons with the late Emma Brown (Maye) a former Technical Director of the Academy.

Over the years my passion has grown and dancing has become a major part of my life.

I was privileged to be a demonstrator for the Technical Committee, and then appointed to the Technical Committee.  I worked with the then Advisory/Research committee and learnt from many wonderfully inspiring and notable Academy members who have now passed on.

On the retirement of the former Technical Director Mrs Brown I was appointed as Technical Director.

Imparting what I have learnt (both technical and historical) to my pupils is a major part of my teaching philosophy,as is encouraging every pupil to become the best that they can.  i especially enjoy seeing pupils reach their potential and taking their dancing to a higher level.  As well I enjoy tutoring at workshops, seminars, courses and Summer Schools where working with different people challenges ones ability to make a difference in a short time.

I have made lifelong friends both in New Zealand and abroad, having attended 3 International Dance Conferences in Las Vegas (a guest tutor at 2 of these) and visited Norfolk Virginia for the International Tattoo on 3 occasions.

The Academy continues to be my focus, ensuring that our world class technique is upheld, our history maintained and respected, whilst imparting any knowledge I can to those who will follow. 


PAMELA FLEMING
Pamela Fleming  commenced her dancing career in the Bay of Plenty, with Ballet at the age of 5 years.  Her ballet teacher was involved in a serious car accident and not able to teach, so when Mrs Cathie Boult a Highland and National Dancing teacher shifted to live next door, she was encouraged to take up this form of dance at age 9 years.  She compelted her training with Mrs Gilliam Telford of Hamilton.  Music and Dance has been an important part of her life, as she learn't piano form 8 years old and continued with ballet at a later stage.  She competed successfully in Highland throughout New Zealand and in 1975 received her Advanced Diploma with Honours in all grades.  After many years of dedication and hard work she was proud to achieve Solo Seal at New Plymouth in 1976 aged 18 years.

She commenced teaching dance in Whakatane over 35 years ago, and continues to pass on her knowledge and love of dancing, teaching at a studio on Auckland's North Shore.

Being involved in Highland and National Dancing has, and continues to be a passion.  She gains real pleasure through contributing in many ways and has served as a President, Secretary and Treasurer on the Auckland Teachers & Judges Association.  She is actively involved on the Auckland Centre of the Piping & Dancing Assn of NZ. She valued the opportunity to be a demonstrator for the NZ Academy at their Annual conferences between 1976 and 1985, and enjoys her role on Technical Committee. 
 

Sue Gill

I am married with three adult children and live in Kaiapoi. My involvement in Highland Dancing spans many years.I learnt to dance at the age of four and have been teaching and judging since I was eighteen. I began my dancing tuition with Douglas Williams and completed my senior years under the tuition of Mrs Daisy Horrell. Since the age of eighteen I have taught many pupils.What has given me the most pleasure over this time has been seeing the majority of them complete their Academy exams and continue to teach and judge. I thoroughly enjoy being part of the Technical committee and look forward to contributing to the Academy as it moves into the 21st century

Jacqueline Jones

Jacqueline Jones has always had a love of dance and music, commencing dancing at the age of four years.

Jacqueline learnt under the tutelage of her mother Joan Osborne, and had a successful dancing career throughout New Zealand.

In 1983 Jacqueline received her Diploma from the N.Z.A.H.N.D, enabling her to become a teacher and adjudicator, however Jacqueline had been teaching several years prior to this, giving her over 30 years experience.

In 2000 Jacqueline was appointed onto the Technical Committee, and since then has enjoyed examining, presenting workshops and tutoring at Summer Schools throughout New Zealand.

Jacqueline has a strong passion for dance and aims to cotinually fostr the art of Highland and National Dancing.  Furthermore Jacqueline both understands and is committed to, exploring the benefits of what dance cnad o for stimulating the overall development of the child.

Jacqueline operates a full time dance dance school in Christchurch, New Zealand, which encompasses both Highalnd and Jazz Dancing.  Outside of dancing Jacqueline enjoys spending time with husband Nic and son Jonty.

Cushla Piesse

Cushla is a 50 year veteran of Highland Dancing.  She has been on the Technical Committee of the NZ Academy of Highland & National Dancing for 24 years.  She particularly likes this role, as the examination system focuses on attention to detail and trying to perfect movements.

She has been Head Tutor at the Scottish Society's Saturday morning Dance class in Christchurch for over 30 years and represents the dancing class on the Society's Council.  Teaching at these classes brings rewards and satisfaction and gives children the freedom to learn with enjoyment without the competitive atmosphere.

Cushla also has a small dancing school - she likes to teach without pressure giving the children her time and attention to get it right.  The close parent-teacher relationship is also important to her

She was President of the Teachers and Judges (Balmoral Club) in Christchurch for many years and is now the President of the Canterbury West Coast Centre of the Piping and Dancing Association.  She believes that it is always good to give yourself a challenge in life and taking on this role has certainly been that.

Cushla enjoys gardening and does voluntary work with St John at Christchurch Public Hospital where she is the assistant team leader for Friends of the Emergency.

 

Robyn Simmons QSM

Mrs Simmons was a pupil of the late Betty Campbell who was taught by Donald Guild. Mrs Simmons mother was also taught by Betty, who instilled a love of all forms of dance in her pupils with opportunities to perform in recitals and operatic society productions.

Mrs Simmons competed mostly in the South Island and completed her New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Diploma in 1975 with Honours in all grades. At this time Betty was terminally ill so Mrs Simmons sat all four step dancing examinations at one session and then put her energies into teaching. Mrs Simmons holds qualifications in Jazz as well as Highland Dance.

Mrs Simmons has been a member of the Academy's Technical Committee since 1988 and loves the contact this position offers with Academy members and their pupils throughout New Zealand, both in her role as an examiner and as a tutor at summer schools, seminars and workshops.

In 2010 Mrs Simmons took up the role of Associate Director of The Highland Dance Company of NZ and has worked with Mrs Julie Hawke in establishing the Academy's performance company of top senior level dancers to showcase our Highland Dance genre in an innovative and contempory setting.  

Mrs Simmons was appointed Assistant Director of Technical Committee to assist and work under the Director in 2012.
 

Elizabeth Smith

Being the only daughter of bagpiping parents (Graham and Margaret Rusbatch) Elizabeth Smith was always destined to be involved in 'things Scottish'.

Elizabeth began dancing, aged 5, in Rangiora and completed her NZAHND (Inc)  Diploma and Medal Tests in Christchurch under the tutelage of Mrs Joan Osborne while also pursuing other interests of Competitive Irish Dancing and Tenor Drumming.

Her teaching career began while still at High School in Rangiora and she continues teaching from home in Christchurch today. Elizabeth is actively involved with the Canterbury Caledonian Society Dance Classes and Christchurch Balmoral Teachers and Judges Club.  She was honoured to be appointed to the Technical Committee in 2005.  

Elizabeth believes that Dancing has taught her more than just how to dance and is grateful for the opportunity to give something back to young dancers and the New Zealand Academy.  She values the support, good friends and wonderful opportunities Highland Dancing has given her.
Adele Swanson

Adele began dancing in Gisborne at the age of 6 learning Ballet, Highland and Tap all to an accomplished level but chose to pursue the Art of Highland and National Dancing and in doing so achieved her Advanced Diploma with Honours in all Grades.

Adele was a pupil of Mrs Colleen Parker who gained her knowledge and expertise from the very well known Scottish Dance Master McLennan.  Under the guidance of Mrs Parker Adele gained the best training and education on the history and technique of Highland Dancing as promoted by the NZ Academy of Highland and National Dancing and learnt the importance of preserving the history and fundamentals or our technique as we move forward in the modern world.

While living in Wellington in her mid twenties Adele took lessons from another respected teacher, the late Mrs Adeline Hobbs and continued to compete till the age of 29. 
Adele's teaching career spans 43 years with 21 of those years in Napier and is an experienced Examiner and Adjudicator and has officiated at a host of prestigious competitions and Highland Games all over New Zealand.

In 1988 Adele was appointed to the Technical Committee of the NZ Academy of Highland and National Dancing which extends her passion for dance, music and standardising and fostering the varying techniques of the art.  Conducting examinations, assisting teachers through seminars and Dance Development Courses and tutoring dancers of all ages at Summer Schools and regional workshops has been a privilege and extremely rewarding.

During her time on the Technical Committee Adele has been involved in a number of new projects - "Getting Started in Dance" and "Lets Dance" syllabuses have been a highlight and putting the junior Highland grades and Irish and Sailors Hornpipe Step Dancing syllabuses of Video/DVD another.  In 2006 Adele was fortunate to represent the NZ Academy at the International Highland Dance Conference in Las Vegas.

Adele has now returned home to Gisborne after 28 years away and currently with her husband Gary own and manage the Beachcomber Motel and enjoy welcoming guests from all around the world.  She runs her own Caladh Brae Dance studio in Gisborne and is President of the Poverty Bay and East Coast Piping and Dancing Centre.

Julie Hawke


I have been extremely passionate about Highland Dancing since commencing at a young age with Miss Muriel Waugh, and completing my senior exams with Mrs Joan Osborne.

I competed extensively gaining Provincial, South Island and New Zealand Championship titles, gaining my diploma in 1980. I have been teaching for over 30 years and I am currently teaching full time to 80 pupils from pre school to senior level , at studios in Ashburton and Christchurch. I find teaching very rewarding and I enjoy the challenge of helping pupils to reach their full potential, and many have now gained their diplomas and competed successfully at the highest level.
I am the president of the Ashburton Highland and National Dancing Association, Vice President of the Canterbury West Coast Centre, and a member of the Christchurch Teachers and Judges Balmoral Club.

I have adjudicated at all levels of New Zealand Championship Competitions , prestigious Highland Games Gatherings at Waipu and Hastings, and tutored at workshops and summerschools throughout the country.

I have a special interest in choreography, and I feel very proud to have been appointed Director of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand. It is certainly a privilege to work with senior dancers from throughout New Zealand in this exciting new dance company, showcasing their talents both nationally and internationally.
I have recently been appointed to the Technical Committee, which has been a personal goal to attain, and I very much look forward to representing the Academy in this new role.

I am married to Richard, who with our three sons, Jamie, Harry and Angus all successfully play the bagpipes. I enjoy supporting them in their solo and pipe band careers throughout New Zealand and Scotland.
















 
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