"I had the pleasure of appointing Gemma as the Dance Leader for Aberdeen for the Scottish Tour of our production, 5 Soldiers. Gemma showed herself from the start to be articulate, well prepared, a very thorough and practical leader, and passionate about learning through the arts. Gemma joined the company for several training days, and really got stuck into the subject matter and themes of the work, exploring challenging and complex areas surrounding conflict, war, stress and injury.
I was blown away by Gemma’s proposal on how to create a new commissioned work on the themes of 5 Soldiers. Gemma had built a strong relationship with a group of young people who had complex needs and were primarily a music group. She had got them enthused, and despite none of them doing much dance before, they and the group director had signed up to the project. Gemma found the thread linking the injured soldier with the very specific and personal needs of the group, looking at injury, perception and empathy. She had grasped the entire essence of the work I was trying to do, and the effect I wanted on participants and audiences.
Gemma’s production (The Recovery Position) was a moving and articulate work that explored themes of injury, pain, loneliness and then working together and empathy. Her group was one of the most well rehearsed, well behaved and passionate we had on the tour (and the quality nationally was very high). The company and I loved working with them, in a warm-up workshop, and felt the intensity of their performances. I would highly recommend Gemma as a warm, intelligent, committed and passionate dance leader. She combines the rare skills of good knowledge of her subject, empathy, awareness and discipline with a warm heart and a funny and approachable manner. I wish her all the best success in her future projects; we would not hesitate in working with her again."
Rosie Kay, Artistic Director of Rosie Kay Dance Company
“I really didn’t think that this kind of workshop was my kind of thing, I can’t believe how much I actually enjoyed it and got really involved. It was so empowering and made me feel like my opinion and ideas really mattered. This does not usually happen to me where I feel respected and part of something. I really enjoyed how the words we thought of could create something so wonderful and then when the movement was added it was like our words came alive. I really enjoyed this experience and glad I pushed myself to take part”.
Participant, Flow! and Women Recovering from Violence
"Gemma was one of the leading lights in the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme when we launched it in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength since her role at Manchester International Festival. She is such an inspiration for the current cohort"
Kate Danielson, Director of the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme
(Now Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme)
"An incredible artist. It's a pleasure for me to be involved [in Gemma's work]. For me, it's like also doing something for my city."
Giulia Montalbano, Fuora Dance Project
"Thank you Gemma for believing in us and seeing what I see... it takes special keys to unlock what lies within."
Debbie Kirkness, Director of Music 4 U
"Gemma’s creative learning delivery is thoughtful, grounded and genuine. This does not escape the young people and her colleagues’ perceptions, as her demeanour makes the sessions fun, balanced and empowering”
Yolanda Aguilar, Assistant Director, Shaper/Caper
Thank you so much for delivering the workshop on Thursday – your style and method of delivery was wonderful and so much fun!
Cicely Farrer, Curatorial Assistant, Cooper Gallery
I was approached by Gemma to look at offering the FLOW course to the women we support and women from the women’s rape and sexual abuse centre. I worked with Gemma to get the taster session organised and then supported the group for the first two weeks. I found the concept of FLOW and seeing it work in practice extremely powerful. It is very difficult to describe what the course is actually about but when you see it happening it is amazing the impact it can have for women. Gemma really impressed me with the skill she used in drawing out the creativity and confidence of a very vulnerable group of women. One woman made it to the end of the programme and the difference in her confidence was heart warming. She seemed to have a lot to give and say and by the end of the group she had the means to do so. This is invaluable for women who have been silenced and stigmatised for so long.
Sophie Gwyther, Team Leader - Women’s Support Services, Dundee Women’s Aid
Gemma is a passionate, talented and innovative community dance artist who I have had the pleasure of working with and knowing in a professional capacity. We started working together as she successfully applied for funding to run a community-driven, arts and science event as part of the Voluntary Arts Festival Mind and Body strand in 2017 I was running in my capacity as Fun Palace’s Scotland Ambassador.
From the onset I was impressed by Gemma’s understanding and genuine joy of working with her community, including in this case young people with additional support needs who are underserved in many aspects, and her readiness to develop something new by researching and incorporating anatomical elements to her hip-hop workshops and collaborating with scientists. She was intuitively aware of the importance of evaluation and both participant and self-reflection and easily adapted our questionnaire to be relevant for her own participants and use this to effectively share the learning from her workshops. Since then, it’s been wonderful to keep in touch with Gemma’s developing portfolio, from her exciting Somewhere North of Here and Lies My Parents Told Me projects, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her for further funding and work.
Lewis Hou, Fun Palaces Scotland Ambassdor
HONOURS AND AWARDS
Hiive Editor's Picks (July 2016)
Chosen as one of five people to watch on Hiive, the online network for creative people.
Above and Beyond Award, 24:7 Theatre Festival (2015)
For services and dedication to seven annual festivals.
Small Grant - The Jerwood Charitable Foundation (2012)
The Jerwood Charitable Foundation fully funded Gemma's attendance at the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Slovenia, a pan-European conference for outstanding individuals working in the arts.