Queen's Birthday Honours List 2016: Dance Advocates

This year the following dance advocates have been appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit - 

Maureen Ax - For services to dance and youth.

Ms Maureen Ax is a registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance and became a Life Member of the Academy in 2002.

Ms Ax opened her dance school in Palmerston North at the age of 16, where she has been principal and teacher for more than 50 years. Many charities have received the profits from school recitals.  She has choreographed local theatre groups, adjudicated at festivals, is a former Vice-President of the New Zealand Performing Arts Competition, and is a Life Member of the Manawatu Performing Arts Competition Society. She has extended her commitment to helping young people through the Rotary International movement, becoming Palmerston North Rotary Club's first female President in 2003. She has hosted international students and hosted students from Palmerston North Boys High School, caring and supporting them so that they could complete their education at the school. Ms Ax has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and acted as a mentor for the New Zealand Young Enterprise Scheme for Palmerston North Girls High School.

Julie Hawke - For services to Highland dance.

Mrs Julie Hawke has been involved with the teaching and administration of Highland Dance for the past 35 years.

Mrs Hawke currently runs the largest Highland dancing school in New Zealand, with studios in Christchurch and Ashburton. Pupils range in age from pre-school to mid-20s and are involved in competitions, examinations, productions, community based displays, and recitals. Pupils regularly achieve at the highest level. She currently holds a number of positions including Director of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand, National Examiner and Adjudicator, and Vice President of the Piping and Dancing Association of New Zealand (Canterbury/West Coast Centre). She has been President of the Ashburton Highland and National Dancing Association for 25 years and in this role she has supported the Ashburton Scottish Society and Mid Canterbury A&P Associations and organised many community events, concerts and competitions, including hosting three New Zealand Championship Gatherings. As Director of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand, representing New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing, she has directed leading dancers to represent New Zealand at international events in the United States, China and Germany. National tours Mrs Hawke has been involved with have included ‘Journey of the Celts’ and the Christchurch Arts Festival’s ‘Bodyfest’.

Neil Ieremia - For services to dance.

Mr Neil Ieremia founded his own dance company Black Grace in 1995 with ten male dancers of Pacific, Māori and New Zealand heritage and as Artistic Director and Chief Executive has since turned Black Grace into a highly recognisable and iconic cultural brand.

For its 20th anniversary in 2015 Black Grace toured New Zealand from Kaitaia to Oamaru with “20 for 20”, performing in 20 venues for $20 tickets at the door, allowing a wide range of New Zealanders to experience their work. Black Grace has toured internationally to Europe, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Australia. In 2004 they made their United States debut, performing a sold out season at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, with a subsequent return to the Festival in 2005. The company has since toured regularly in North America. Black Grace received critical acclaim for its performances in the 2014 “NZ at Edinburgh” showcase at the Edinburgh festivals. Mr Ieremia has choreographed work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Opera New Zealand, New Zealand Wearable Arts and the Holland Dance Festival. His recent work has included ‘Passchendaele” with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, part of the Salute season commemorating the First World War.

Billie Jordan - For services to seniors and dance.

Ms Billie Jordan is a self-employed communications consultant who founded The Hip-Operation Crew, a hip hop dance group consisting of 22 members aged 68 to 96 years old.

The group uses hip hop dance as a vehicle to form stronger connections with young people and to promote attitudinal change in society towards the elderly and youth. Ms Jordan performs a range of roles for the Crew, from choreographer to publicist and manager, all on a voluntary basis. The group received the Guinness World Record as the oldest dance group in the world and have performed at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas and the Taipei Arena in Taiwan. They competed in the New Zealand National Hip Hop Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Ms Jordan presented a TED Talk in 2015, featuring a performance by The Hip-Operation Crew, in which she addressed the issue of Ageism in Western society. She and the Crew were the subject of the 2014 documentary film “Hip Hop-eration”, which followed the group from their inception to their performance at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas. The film has won several awards at New Zealand and international film festivals. Ms Jordan currently runs an international travel company taking seniors on unique adventures to maximise their potential.

Watch Billie's Hip Op-eration Crew in the For the Love of Dance in Aotearoa video

Claire Patten - For services to dance.

Mrs Claire Patten has been one of the principal dance teachers in the Taranaki province for 55 years.

Mrs Patten runs the Patten Academy of Dance, which she founded, and produces annual stage shows to give her students theatre experience. She choreographed the Taranaki Searchlight Tattoos on six occasions between 1991 and 2004. The Tattoos had casts of up to 2,000 people and she oversaw and trained up to 250 children for their acts. She has been involved with New Plymouth RSA ‘Forces Follies’ as a co-producer and choreographer. Over the course of nine performances $38,000 was raised for the RSA club. She has been involved with the New Plymouth Operatic Society since 1962 and was appointed show choreographer from 1972 to 1982. She has been a member of the New Zealand Association of Modern Dance (NZAMD) for more than 30 years and is the main Area Organiser and examiner. Mrs Patten has assisted NZAMD with technical supplements and updating their syllabus, especially in ballet.

Visit the Department of the Prime Mister and Cabinet site for the full list...

Queen's Birthday Honours List 2016

 
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