Council Biographies

Gordon Curl MA MEd – President

Following service in the Royal Navy in WW2, Gordon trained at Culham (Oxon) and Carnegie College (Leeds) from 1948-1951 – where he read Combined Arts, Physical.Education and Dance. Following teaching at Kingham Hill School (Oxon), in 1954 he was appointed to the staff of Bretton Hall College of Music, Art and Drama in the West Riding of Yorkshire – where he taught Dance, Aesthetics and some instrumental music. Over many years he attended Summer Schools in Dance with Rudolf Laban.
In 1960 Gordon was appointed Principal Lecturer in Combined Arts (including Dance) at Chelsea College Eastbourne. Whilst there, he invited Kurt Jooss and his Ballet Company from Germany to perform The Green Table to capacity audiences in the Congress Theatre Eastbourne in 1966.
Gordon acquired an MEd with a Critical Study of Rudolf Laban’s Theory and Practice of Movement and an MA (with Distinction) in Aesthetics at London University. In 1969 he was appointed to take charge of degree studies at Nonington College Dover and later as part-time tutor to the MA Course in Expressive Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University. He became External Examiner in Dance at Sussex University, De Montfort University and The Royal Academy of Dance and Chaired the London University Movement Studies Panel in the 70s. He was Chair of NATFHE Dance for 20 years – organising large-scale conferences in London, Warwick, Aberystwyth and Bath Universities. Among his guest presenters were Martha Graham, Alwin Nikolais, Robert Cohan and Dame Beryl Grey – as well as National Dance Critics. For six years Gordon chaired the Laban Guild Council and for a further 6 years edited their Magazine Movement, Dance and Drama – to which he has been a contributor – not least with regular reviews of Michael Platt’s vibrant productions of Suffolk Youth Theatre.
Early retirement from Nonington led to Gordon’s appointment as Artistic Director and Producer of Shepway Youth Opera. For twelve years there followed productions with Kent Youth in Schools, Theatres, Churches and Canterbury Cathedral – the last of which with 500 children in Benjamin Britten’s Noyes Fludde and Principals from The Royal Opera House and English National Opera.

Ann Ward – Secretary and Courses Officer

Ann was previously Head of the Art Department and Lecturer in Dance at an FE College in Northern Ireland, with experience of leading movement and dance sessions in a range of community settings. Whilst in Ireland she was a member of the Advisory Panel for the Performing Arts for the Arts Council of N Ireland and also worked closely with the Arts Council of Ireland in Dublin, setting up Laban Guild Training Courses in both North and South. Now back in England, Ann is the Courses Officer for the Laban Guild, involved in teaching, setting up new courses and writing and piloting new schemes of work. She has written both the Leadership and Marketing manuals for the Laban Guild Dance Leaders Course, with an emphasis on professional responsibility.

Janet Harrison – Membership Secretary

Janet trained to teach at St.Luke’s College, Exeter and it was here that she experienced her first formalised dance classes with sessions focused mainly on Rambert and Laban methodology. Having rejected an opportunity to go to Canada to work in Theatre in Education Janet’s first job was in a rough and ready Secondary Modern school in Hayes, Middlesex. This baptism by fire has stood her in excellent stead throughout her 35 years in the profession. Janet’s involvement in Laban Dance occurred in 1976 when she moved to Harrow and joined the same amateur dramatic group as Sam and Susi Thornton. By this time she was teaching dance as part of recreation studies but needed to acquire a more formal training in technique and choreography and the 1979 Laban Summer School at Dartford seemed to be the answer.
Some 15 years later Janet completed Community Dance Leaders courses Stages 1 and 2 at Powys Dance and was invited to become minuting secretary for the Guild. In 2004 she trained with The Actors Company in London and realised her life ambition of becoming a professional actor. Janet now spends a good deal of time touring the UK whilst still teaching and coaching when time permits. She has tried to stay in touch with The Laban Guild throughout her working life and in 2009 assumed responsibility for Membership.

Pam Anderton – Treasurer and Website

Pam has worked for the Laban Guild Council since 1986. She has served on Council as Treasurer and has maintained and redesigned the website. Through her company, PAFS Ltd until 2017, and now independently, she has been responsible for the design and layout of the Guild magazine since 2003. Pam has taught IT and Business Studies in addition to her work in the area of financial software where she has been a departmental manager for a large finance house assessing profitability of ‘big ticket’ leases and a consultant project manager, software developer, business analyst, tester and documenter for point of sale and proposal management systems in both the UK and the rest of Europe.
Pam’s connection with the Laban Guild began after a visit to an osteopath following a poor landing from a parachute jump; the osteopath recommended a local dance class led by Bronwen Mills. Bronwen, an experienced community dance leader with Laban training, introduced Pam to the Laban Guild. Pam has also been a member of the Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Fund committee since 1989; initially as Treasurer, following Ellinor Hinks’ retirement and now manages their website and advises on IT.

Selina Martin – AGM Co-ordinator

Selina is currently Head of Dance in a secondary school in the Midlands having introduced Dance into their curriculum and developed a department. Selina has a BA Hons in Dance from Bretton Hall (University of Leeds) and a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education from DeMontfort University, Bedfordshire. Aspects of her current role include creating Primary school projects, working with Northants Dance and mentoring new P.G.C.E/G.T.P students. She has been involved with the Laban Guild for several years developing Laban in Places and is responsible for the management of the AGM day. Selina is interested in making Laban’s work accessible to all, especially students to equip them with the tools to be ‘thinking dancers’.

Darren Royston MA – Drama Representative

Darren works as a freelance choreographer / movement director and director in opera. Recent credits include Dance Consultant on the National Theatre’s production of She Stoops to Conquer, The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic, and movement coach for One Man Two Governors in the West End. Darren has directed three seasons for the Bangkok Opera, and with Pop Up Opera in the UK. A specialist in period movement and historical dance, Darren is Artistic Director of NONSUCH, performing at Hampton Court Palace, British Museum, National Gallery, Royal Shakespeare Company and appearing on TV, including Five O’Clock Show and Got to Dance!. Darren was the Restoration Dancing Master with Sue Perkins on Restoration Supersize Me! and choreographed the feature film Wide Blue Yonder with Lauren Bacall, James Fox and Brian Cox. Darren has worked for fifteen years as Movement and Dance Tutor at RADA, choreographing productions from Shakespeare to Sondheim, teaching the Laban Approach at MA level, and his book Dramatic Dance: An Actor’s Approach to Dance as a Dramatic Art is forthcoming in the Methuen Drama series. Darren began his interest in choreography following the National Youth Theatre in London (working with choreographers David Toguri and Imogen Claire), before studying at Cambridge University, working with the Footlights. He undertook postgraduate training at The Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London (MA in Dance Studies with Distinction), and received the Bonnie Bird Choreography Award, which launched his freelance career. Darren continues to use the Laban approach in his teaching and choreography, and combines experiences from the teaching of Jean Newlove, Geraldine Stephenson, Warren Lamb, Valerie Preston Dunlop, Ann Hutchinson Guest and the late Marion North.

Mary Painter (nee Cormack) – Minuting Secretary and eFlash

Mary has always had a passion for dance and learned ballet when she was very young and until she went to University. Although her main sport is Gymnastics Mary has always loved Dance and has found that her involvement in this gave her an advantage when it came to choreographing routines. Mary trained at the University of Bedfordshire for 4 years to complete her BA (Hons) Physical Education Secondary with QTS to become a PE Teacher and is currently teaching at a school in Southampton.