Workshops & Holidays

CDT offers workshops and special Holiday classes at the CDT Studio!

Workshop fees can be paid directly to CDT’s bank account: Canberra Dance Theatre BSB 633-000 A/c 138404199. Please email details of the transfer to


3 June: Inclusivity in dance classes

A professional development workshop for dance teachers working with people with disabilities. Free for all CDT Teachers and Members, 9.45am – 5.00pm at Canberra Dance Theatre, corner of Kingsley Street and Barry Drive, Acton. CDT’s studio and facilities are accessible for people with disabilities. Cost for non-members: $80 ($70 concession card holders). Bookings at CDT canberradancetheatre@gmail or call 0435 025 365.

If you teach dance to people with a range of abilities then this workshop is for you. CDT has lined up an impressive group of dance teachers to guide and inspire you in planning and delivering inclusive dance classes. The workshop will cover topics including:

  • Structuring a balanced and logical class
  • Teaching aspects of dance technique in a creative way
  • Using imagery and props to promote an expanded range of movement and expression
  • Developing activities that can be accessed on multiple levels
  • Communication strategies and behaviour management strategies for people with high needs

The workshop is designed for dance teachers working in studio, educational and community settings. Adult dancers with a disability who are interested in teaching dance but may not yet have taught are particularly invited to attend. The content to be covered is relevant to all styles of dance. Presenters include: Philip Piggin, Gretel Burgess, Gabriele Green Ola, Amy  and Michelle Forman, and Jacqui Simmonds.

This workshop is supported by a grant from the ACT Government.

Information about sessions and presenters


10.00 – 10.15    welcome – Jacqui
10.15 – 11.30    session 1 – Gretel
11.45 – 1.00    session 2 – Gabriela
1.00 – 1.45    lunch
1.45 – 3.00    session 3 – Amy & Michelle
3.15 – 4.30    session 4 – Philip & Jacqui
4.30 – 5.00    wrap up – Jacqui

Session 1: Imagine if…..

The focus of this session is the use of physical and conceptual stimuli to promote expanded movement and expression.
In a dance class, the use of props can assist the participants to develop specific movement skills, to extend their range of movement and to expand their creativity. Props are tactile; they can be manipulated; they can be explored for what they are, and can become many other things. Using props to explore concrete and abstract concepts and to generate movement is especially useful for people who are not skilled at using their imagination.
And once imagination is ignited and each of the five senses are enlivened, movement responses become so much richer in intent and in detail.

Gretel Burgess

Gretel has extensive experience in both the health and arts sectors. She has a Bachelor of communication in Theatre/Media, a Masters in Social Work and a certificate in Theatre and Dance from Sekolalah Tinggi Seni (university) Padang Pajang, Indonesia, where she won a scholarship to study dance and drama for twelve months. Gretel has toured and performed in Australia and overseas and has worked for numerous youth drama companies and dance theatres including Canberra Youth Theatre, Canberra Dance Theatre, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts, Darwin, PACT Youth Theatre in Sydney and NIDA holiday programs in Cairns and Canberra. She has taught many different cultural and community groups including asylum seekers on Christmas Island, the Multi-Cultural Council for Refugees in Darwin, children and teenagers with Down Syndrome in Canberra, adults with stroke and acute brain injury,  adults with complex needs through ARC Disability Services and in Regis Aged Care Facility, Cairns, Queensland. Gretel is currently one of the teachers for the Wellbeing dance programs at Belconnen Arts centre in Canberra.

Session 2: Techniques, Tools and Trust

Gabi practically and critically explores approaches to movement techniques and alignment using set material within an inclusive dance context. With a focus on sensory and anatomical awareness she will bring tools to open up physical capacity for all, extending each individual’s experience of their body, imagination and the environment around them. Discussion and questioning amidst the group accompanies this practical session to allow for deeper understanding of Gabi’s approaches to leading technically focussed inclusive dance.

Gabriela Green Ola

Gabriela is a socially engaged and highly inclusive regional dance artist. She is based, living and working in the Bega Valley in NSW.
Gabriela graduated from the Victorian Collage of the Arts in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. As a graduate dancer and emerging choreographer she has worked and seconded with Alison Plevey, Lee Pemberton, Nat Cursio, Rebecca Hilton, Rob McCredie, Gabrielle Rose, Richard Maude, Nick Power, Holly Durant, Gregory Lorenzutti, Sam Fox, THIS Ensemble (Ren Walters, Tony Yap), Alina Folini (Argentina), The Jose Vidal Company (Chile).
Gabriela found an interest in Inclusive Dance Practises in her Mother’s country Chile, where she was a part of an all abilities dance group with the Non for Profit Organisation ‘BEST BUDDIES CHILE’. Upon return to Australia Gabriela received a CREATE NSW Artist Support Grant to further development her experience in Inclusive Dance Practises and with this funding travelled to Europe over the course of 2 months and connected with 21 different Inclusive dance companies. She was a core performer in an Integrated Dance-Mix Media piece by The Leitung Ensemble BewegGrund Trier, Dance Company (Germany).
Gabriela is the Dance Development Officer for the Bega Based, Youth Dance Company, fLiNG Physical Theatre and in 2017 introduced an Inclusive stream to the company involving a youth all abilities dance group ‘MoveMe’. The group of over 10 students ages 8-18 have been meeting weekly for 2 school terms and look forward to performing later this year.
With thanks to Alison Plevey for her contribution to planning this workshop.

Session 3: Communication and Music

The first half of this session will focus on how to effectively and confidently communicate with people with disabilities, especially those with high needs. This will include how to tailor the style and level of your language to students, how to communicate with non-verbal students, and how to use communication strategies to manage challenging behaviour.
The second half of this session will focus on using music as communication. This will include how to communicate through sounds, and how to use music in response to student behaviour.

Amy Forman and Michele Forman

Amy has been teaching dance for over eight years. She has taught dance for youth and adults with disabilities at Black Mountain School and Belconnen Community Service, and led the classes for children and youth with disabilities at Canberra Dance Theatre from 2013-14. Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts (Education), and has worked as a Learning Support Assistant to students with disabilities at Cranleigh School and Black Mountain School.
Michelle has been teaching music for over ten years. She has taught music for adults with disabilities in Music for Canberra’s Mixed Ability Program since 2008, and coordinated the program for two years. She also teaches music for children with disabilities in out-of-home care, and regularly leads one-off music workshops for people with disabilities. Michelle holds a Certificate IV in Community Services and Mental Health.
Amy and Michelle have co-led music and dance workshops for people with and without disabilities at Belconnen Arts Centre, for children with disabilities at the Sony Camp, for people with hearing impairments at Belconnen Arts Centre and through Hearing Australia, and most recently led the holiday program for teenagers with disabilities at Canberra Dance Theatre. They are both passionate about inclusive arts programs, and love working with people.

Session 4: This Goes with That

Drawing on the classes currently taught as part of Belconnen Arts Centre’s Dance for Wellbeing Program, in this session we will look at aspects of class content and structure. These include ways of structuring a class that develops logically from the warm up to the cool down while simultaneously addressing physical, cognitive and social outcomes; the pros and cons of working with a theme in a class; the territory between set and improvised movement; and strategies for negotiating the line between encouraging participants to look after themselves and to extend themselves.

Philip Piggin

Philip trained and has worked in Australia and internationally. He was employed as a Community Dance Animateur in Wales, UK, and also with Common Ground Dance Theatre, a company of deaf and hearing dancers, focusing on dance and disability programs.  In Australia he has worked regionally, teaching, lecturing, choreographing, performing and directing for many arts, educational and community groups, with and without disabilities. He has also served on various boards and arts funding authorities.
Since moving to the ACT in 1999, he has worked with Ausdance ACT, extensively in the education sector, and for Canberra Dance Theatre for 10 years, all these involving programs for all abilities.
Now he is employed as a Creative Team Member at Belconnen Arts Centre, where the philosophy is about “arts for all”.  With the support of a Churchill Fellowship trip to the USA and the UK, Philip now pioneers dance programs for People with Parkinson’s, for People with Dementia and for People with other chronic conditions, throughout the ACT and beyond.
He was recently awarded Honorary Life Membership of People Dancing – the UK foundation organization for community dance, and this year was shortlisted for Services to Dance for the Australian Dance Awards.

Jacqueline Simmonds

Jacqui has been involved in dance education for over three decades, developing and directing tertiary dance degrees for the University of Western Sydney (now WSU) and ACPE. As part of the management team at ACPE, her responsibilities included oversight of student engagement, welfare and retention.
As an educator, Jacqui’s philosophy of teaching is underpinned by research in somatic practices and dance as a community art. She completed the Feldenkrais Teacher Training course and is a qualified Iyengar yoga teacher. Publications include: Dancers and communities: A collection of writings
about dance as a community art, edited with Helen Poynor; and Somdance Manual, co-authored with Greg Holdaway and Zoran Kovich.
Her service to the dance community has included her work as President of Ausdance NSW; Chair of the Dance Committee, NSW Ministry for the Arts (now Arts NSW); and Chair of the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia. She was also a member of NSW’s HSC Dance Examination committee. Currently she is on Ausdance National’s Board.
Last year Jacqui took on the role of Artistic Coordinator for Canberra Dance Theatre. She is also teaching for Belconnen Arts Centre’s Dance and Wellbeing program, and is on the teaching team at Canberra Yoga Space.

Past Holiday Class features

Carol BrownJanuary 2018: Carol Brown GOLD workshop: Carol conducted a 6-day Choreographic Workshop and re-created a work on the GOLD group. Carol is a renowned freelance community dance artist, consultant, facilitator, trainer, choreographer, producer, presenter and lecturer, based in Wales, UK. She has led community dance in the Swansea Bay area for 30 years, creating countless productions on professional and community casts of up to 300 people in community settings, theatres and on television. Check out some of her work as Director of TAN Dance.

December 2017 : Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM special workshops: Elizabeth is a prodigious figure in Australian contemporary dance. Most recently seem performing played the role of the Mother in Teac Damsa’s (House of Dance) reinterpretation of Swan Lake, she brings an extraordinary wealth of dance experience and teaching to CDT. Her bio is here.

July 2017 Teacher PL with Oliver Ransan-Elliot: We were very fortunate to have Oliver as our teacher for the afternoon. Oliver is an experienced physiotherapist and Pilates instructor with a background in dance – he was a dancer with the Australian Ballet Company and the West Australian Ballet Company. He has a special interest in rehabilitation for dancers. Oliver is well qualified to offer us an expert perspective on the topic of our workshop: biomechanics and dance.

Spring 2017: Elizabeth Cameron Dalman for Contemporary, Ballet with Katherine Harper

Winter 2017: Alison Plevey with Contemporary Dance Technique, Dominique Wood Ward with Ballet and Contemporary

Autumn 2017: Tara Chapman with Ballet, Olivia Fyfe with Contemporary

Summer 2017: Three amazing teachers. Laura Pearce (week 1) and Sally Pinder (Week 2) taking Ballet, and the extraordinary artists and dance teacher Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM for Contemporary both weeks.

CDTeens 2017 Winter Holiday workshop with Amy and Michelle Forman


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