THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF ASPAH
ASPAH is led by a national executive committee of up to 11 individuals who are passionate about the importance of
high-quality healthcare for performing artists. Their expertise and experience encompasses diverse fields. The committee
includes healthcare professionals, pedagogues, researchers, and performing artists.
Executive Committee Office Bearers
Dr Rachel Ward
President | Treasurer
Rachel Ward is a passionate dance educator and researcher. She is a Senior Lecturer in the UNSW Faculty of Medicine and Program Director for the UNSW Bachelor of Exercise Physiology. Rachel teaches tertiary courses in biomechanics and motor learning and has a strong research interest in these areas. Her PhD examined the biomechanics of classical ballet technique and associated implications for dance teaching practice. Her current research focuses on exploring the therapeutic benefits of dance for all ages and promoting safe dance for dancers of all levels. Rachel is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) and has collaborated and published with dance science researchers from New York’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Rachel is a former professional dancer and currently a Registered Teacher and Practical Teaching Supervisor of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and a Licensed Teacher of the RAD’s Silver Swans® program for older adults. Rachel enjoys sharing the joy of dance with people of all ages and abilities.
David is a Physiotherapist with nearly 30 years experience across a broad range of disciplines and human performance. He has been involved with ASPAH since its inception and held the role of Vice-president for 6 years. His early career was sports focused, spending 5 years in the UK as senior club Physio for London Wasps RFC along with multiple levels of representative rugby in Australia. Marrying a dancer led to a passionate embracing of the performing arts leading to roles and experiences with Qld Ballet, Qld Theatre, Opera Qld, multiple musical theatre shows and touring companies including Rambert Dance from UK and Ballet Preljocaj from France. He has served the Qld Symphony Orchestra as their consultant Physio for the past 8 years and continues in this role.
David has a spirited desire to advocate for performing artists’ health awareness and making the public more aware of the physicality of the arts. He is now consulting from 3 locations in Brisbane.
Dr Peta Blevins
Peta Blevins is an educator, researcher, and performance coach specialising in psychological skills for performance and safe dance practice. Peta has worked with organisations in Australia and the UK, delivering workshops and lectures for performing artists, and professional development sessions for dance teachers. She is currently a sessional academic at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) lecturing in performance psychology. Peta has a BPsych from the University of Western Australia, a MSc Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and a PhD from WAAPA. Her PhD research, funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award, focused on overtraining and psychological recovery in dance training and culminated in the development, delivery, and evaluation of a mindfulness and acceptance training program for dance students. Peta is also a qualified theatrical dance teacher, having trained and performed in Australia and the UK in a variety of dance styles, and as a singer with Some Voices (London, UK) and the Variety Youth Choir (Australia).
Executive Committee Members
Melanie Fuller is passionate about exceptional healthcare, and injury prevention for performing artists. She has worked as a physiotherapist for 13 years, gaining experience working for professional ballet, and contemporary dance companies, as well as touring musical theatre companies, and within pre-professional dance settings. She has worked in private practice, at QUT Dance, and has toured with The Australian Ballet. Melanie has presented at international and national conferences, as well as for dance teacher professional development, as invited by various organisations. She regularly contributes to professional development activities for fellow physiotherapists. Melanie is a PhD candidate at QUT, investigating injury prevention in dance, a titled Sports and Exercise + Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist with dual master’s qualifications, and has received an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Melanie currently works at James Cook University in physiotherapy.
Anneliese Gill is a musician, performance coach and Fulbright Scholar. She has a Masters of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, New York, a BA in music from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne and a graduate and post-graduate diploma in psychology from Monash University, Melbourne. With over 25 years experience as a music teacher, and performer she has also spent a number of years as a member of the music- psychology research team at Monash University. She is committed to helping performing artists of all ages and levels, develop skills that will enable them to perform with confidence, manage nerves, remain composed under pressure and play up to their abilities. In 2016 she was awarded an Australian Post-Graduate Award to complete a PhD in music performance psychology at The University of Melbourne. This has involved developing, implementing and assessing an online performance skills program for students and teachers to enhance self-efficacy, performance skills, and performance quality and reduce music performance anxiety. She conducts performance mastery workshops for VCE students, young performers and professionals, and professional development sessions for teachers and music educators.
Danica is a sports physiotherapist with a strong interest in the health and wellbeing within the performing arts. Prior to commencing her journey as a physiotherapist, Danica trained in dance at WAAPA and toured as a dancer on the Australasian production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. She has since completed a BScHons (Physio) and MSc (Sports Physio) at Curtin University. Clinically, she works within the private practice setting at APS Physio in Perth, where she is involved in injury prevention and management with recreational through to professional dancers, musical theatre performers and circus performers. Danica has also been the resident physiotherapist on a number of musical theatre productions including ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, ‘Ghost, The Musical’ and ‘Matilda, The Musical’, and is a touring physiotherapist for The Australian Ballet. Danica is currently completing her PhD at Curtin University, exploring the relationship between lifestyle, emotional, cognitive, training and physical factors with pain related disability in pre-professional dancers. She has previously published in landing biomechanics in adolescent dancers.
Prof Leslie Nicholson
A musculoskeletal physiotherapist and academic at the University of Sydney, Leslie is passionate about education for all stakeholders in the performance arena. Her research is in the area of joint hypermobility disorders and she leads the Hypermobility and Performance Lab at the Bosch Institute. Here, her team research the symptoms and impairments caused by inherited and acquired joint hypermobility. Performers, notably dancers and musicians are affected by both forms of hypermobility and Leslie’s team has been dedicated to developing and validating tools that have clinical utility and can translate to improved performance and longevity of a performer’s career. Leslie and her colleague Dr Cliffton Chan have presented their research nationally at ASPAH and the Australian Physiotherapy Association conferences and internationally at IADMS, PAMA and the Musician’s Health and Performance conferences. Leslie’s research has been multidisciplinary, comprising physiotherapists, exercise scientists, podiatrists, biomechanists and psychologists. She is passionate about expanding the depth and quality of research in performing arts medicine and importantly translating the research – that is, extending this evidence-based knowledge to artists, educators and health professionals. Leslie has a background in performance having studied Speech and Drama for 10 years culminating in the diploma of Associate of the Trinity College London (ATCL).
Tama began his training at Siale Dance School in Papua New Guinea before attending Ecole Classique in Sydney under Prudence Bowen, followed by the Australian Ballet School under Gailene Stock, before taking a contract with Queensland Ballet in 1999. Under the directorship of Francois Klaus, Tama was promoted to soloist in 2002. In 2006 Tama auditioned around Europe before taking a Soloist position with Scottish Ballet, and under the directorship of Ashley Page was promoted to Principal artist in 2008.
Tama performed in a diverse range of works from Trisha Brown and Stephen
Petronio to Forsyth and McMillan, along with a range of modern classics.
As a coach, Tama has worked with both professional and pre-professional dancers. He coached rehearsals and classes for Queensland Ballet and Scottish Ballet, along with talks and outreach dance programs with the Scottish Ballet, Queensland Ballet and Dancers Career Development (UK).
Since retiring, Tama has coached at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Queensland University of Technology, MAD Dance House, Royal Academy of Dance special events, Premier Dance Academy, Kimberley Woodger Dance Academy, Strictly Dance and Danielle’s School of Dance. With a keen interest in Sport Psychology, Tama is currently undertaking a PhD in psychology
at the University of Queensland, exploring the Career transitions of elite performing artists: From education to retirement.
Julia is a graduate of the Royal Ballet School Teachers’ Training Course Diploma in Ballet Teaching and has a 43-year dance teaching career encompassing running her own large dance school and youth performance company and freelance dance teaching and choreographing at private studios, full-time vocational courses and university dance performance and teacher training programmes. Julia was also Chair for three years of the Industry Advisory Committee for Auckland University of Technology’s BDance programme and has experience as a contributor to dance magazine articles and as a dance performance reviewer.
Julia has a Master of Creative Industries (Dance Teaching) from Queensland University of Technology, where she is now a Candidate on the Doctor of Creative Industries programme, researching adolescent dancer wellness. She also has a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Teaching and Learning) from Macquarie University.
Julia is a Life Member, Registered Teacher and Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and holds the Academy’s Advanced Teaching Diploma. She is also a Practical Teaching Supervisor and Tutor for the RAD Faculty of Education programmes. Julia has presented regarding her research and teaching strategies at three RAD Conferences in Australia and at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) Sydney Regional Meeting. Julia also has teaching qualifications in Benesh Movement Notation, Pilates Matwork and ISTD Imperial Ballet, Cecchetti Ballet, Modern Theatre and National Character Dance.