Farewell to Dr Linda Ashley
It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Dr Linda Ashley. Linda played an important role in numerous aspects of the dance industry in New Zealand and her presence and contributions will be sorely missed.
Linda worked for over thirty years in dance and dance education both in the UK (her native country) and in New Zealand. She headed the Bachelor of Dance programme at AUT University in Auckland in the mid- 2000s and was awarded her PhD from the University of Auckland in 2010. Her numerous internationally published books and articles on dance including, Essential Guide to Dance (1996), Dancing With Difference; Culturally Diverse Dances in Education (2012 ), and the most recent, Shape Shifting: Examining Choreographic Process in Dance Education (2015), reflect her expertise and wide-ranging interest in dance education. Dancing the Long White Cloud:Dance in the New Zealand Curriculum (2002), the invaluable video series she produced for the Ministry of Education, continues to inspire and support teachers in the classroom.
Linda’s support and curiosity for Maori and Pacific dance has been appreciated by many in New Zealand and was evidenced by her participation in endless forums, workshops, lectures and seminars over many years. She was fascinated with ideas of cultural ownership, appropriation and commodification in dance and delved wholeheartedly into researching these aspects of dance in New Zealand. She did this with the upmost respect, consideration and passion. Linda’s reviews of dance have appeared in many publications and she attended countless performances over the years. Consequently, her reviews have provided a rich archive of New Zealand dance. Recently she convened the dance writers group ‘Independent Dance Writers and Researchers Aotearoa’ (InDaWRA) with the aim of bringing together freelance and scholarly writers of dance and establishing a network of readers and writers throughout the country.
Linda’s inimitable style and flair was infectious; you could not but smile in her presence. Her recent battle with melanoma did not diminish her spirit, as witnessed in her email communications of late, ending with her wish for ‘Light, Love, and Peace’.