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Prof Gary Gordon

Gary Gordon

Head of Department

Email address: g.gordon@ru.ac.za

Telephone (direct): +27 603 8968

Professor Gary Gordon is currently the Head of Drama at Rhodes University. He specializes in choreography, physical performance and contemporary dance. He received a Masters Degree in choreography from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. From 1989 to 1992 he was a member of the teaching faculty at Laban where he participated in a number of inspirational workshops that led to his commitment to the idea of physical theatre as pioneered by Lloyd Newson.  

In 1993, he founded the First Physical Theatre Company in South Africa - the first physical theatre company in the country, noted for his theatrical collaborations and choreographic innovation. Some of these first theatre collaborations were with playwrights, actors, designers and composers and lead to the award-winning danceplays: The Unspeakable Story (1995), Bessie’s Head (2000) and Ozymandias (2008) which was a collaborative partnership with artists from Tulane University in New Orleans. Gary has enjoyed a long performance career, also delving into the areas of Ballet, Butoh and digital installations. He was also performer in one of South Africa’s first contemporary dance companies, JazzArt Dance Theatre in 1982.

From 2010-2014, he worked as the MFA Coordinator/Head of Academic Studies at the School of Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. While coordinating, he worked with students from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Korea. He also served on the selection panel for the Hong Kong Dance Awards.

Professor Gordon has received a number of national awards including 1989 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Choreography; Choreographer of the Year for Shattered Windows (1994); and Most Outstanding Presentation of an Original Contemporary Dance Work for The Unspeakable Story (1996). In 2016 he received a Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award for his long-term significant contribution to the National Arts Festival. 


  • MA in Dance Studies (Laban,UK)
  • BA Hons in Drama with Distinction (Natal, South Africa)


  • November 2014 to the present: Professor and Head of Department, Drama Department, Rhodes University teaching choreography, somatics, practice research, dance performance and training with a focus on integration, interaction, and a physical intelligence.
  • September 2010 to October 2014: Head of Academic Studies/MFA Coordinator, School of Dance, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts – integrated approaches to the teaching of dance aesthetics and criticism, dance research, dance appreciation and choreography – and teaching a MFA course, Contemporary Dance in Action where the studio is a discursive space for interrogating creative practice and conceptual constructs  
  • Professor and Head of Department, Rhodes University, South Africa specializing in and teaching choreography, physical theatre, contemporary dance, movement studies, contemporary performance, dance education and theatre studies (July 1992 to August 2010 - previously Senior Lecturer, Lecturer, and Junior Lecturer starting in 1974).
  • Spring Term 2009 Guest Artist in Residence, Department of Theatre and Dance, Tulane University, New Orleans.
  • Artistic Director of the First Physical Theatre Company in South Africa; also performer and choreographer (1992 to 2010; resumed in 2014).                 
  • Lecturer at Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, London teaching choreography, dance history, contemporary dance technique and ballet (1989 to 1992).
  • Lecturer (part-time) in Voice and Movement at Lee Strasberg Studio in London (1991 to 1992).
  • Performed for choreographers in London and South Africa; also worked as choreographer for South African directors.


  • 2016 Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award for long-term significant contribution to the National Arts Festival.
  • 2000 Rhodes University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • 2000 Eastern Cape Premier’s Award for Choreographic Excellence
  • 2000 FNB Vita Special Award for Choreography : Bessie’s Head
  • 1996 Most Outstanding Presentation of an Original Contemporary Dance Work: The Unspeakable Story
  • 1994 Choreographer of the Year : Shattered Windows
  • 1989 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Choreography

Last Modified :Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:42:54 SAST