Meet Gail Parmel

Gail Parmel is the Artistic Director of ACE dance and music and as one of Britain’s hidden female choreographers we thought we would showcase her achievements in this blog. Gail was born in Leeds in 1970 and is very proud of her Yorkshire roots, she graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 1996. After working for Kokuma Dance Company, Gail founded ACE dance and music with husband Ian Parmel in 1997. The company have toured throughout the U.K. and internationally at the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa, in Lyon, France and in Milan, Italy.

Collaboration is and always has been at the heart of Gail’s ambition for her creativity – initiating partnerships and intercultural experiences. Over the years she has joined forces with world renowned choreographers, such Akiko Kitamura (Japan), Robert Moses (San Francisco), Vincent Mansoe (South Africa), Andile Sotiya (U.K.), Douglas Thorpe (U.K.), Jose Agudo (Spain) and Barwen Tavaziva (Zimbabwe). Read more about collaborations here…

A true internationalist, Gail is keeping African and Caribbean dance forms alive by immersing herself in practical research and using this research to make creative work that has contemporary relevance in Europe, as well as passing on and maintaining the techniques and quality standards amongst professional and non-professional dancers and dance makers in England. Her ventures continue to challenge promoters and audiences to think differently about what they can expect from contemporary dance. This drives much of the exploration that can be seen in ACE’s work, with the unique combination of captivating and energetic contemporary movement with African \ Caribbean dance, rousing music scores and media techniques.

Gail, a resilient champion of youth dance formed ACE Youth in 1998 and ACE Graduates in 2012.  Award winning ACE Youth is now one of the UK’s most high profile youth company’s.  ACE Youth is testament to Gail’s commitment to inspiring young people and helping them to reach their potential. They regularly perform locally, nationally and increasingly internationally and promote young people as artists and leaders in their own right. Eight members of ACE Youth are currently studying with or have already graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Five ACE Youth members have gained a place at The Birmingham Academy of Dance.  Read more about what ACE Youth have been up to here. ACE are at the forefront of excellence in European Youth Dance, and alongside Virevolte Company are part of a fledgling European Youth Dance Network: Dance=Désir.

Working holistically, Gail has taken into account every entry point for dancers and the public to engage with African, Caribbean and contemporary dance – professional touring productions, youth dance work, dance in education settings and the professional development of the next generation of black British dancers.  Her cultural leadership, underpinned by a passion for youth dance, is contributing to a growing sense of community cohesion and pride in artistic endeavour. Her work is repositioning what it means to experience African People’s Dance as a professional dancer, audience member or young person. Gail has demonstrated positive pathways for people who do not normally participate or relate to the arts and dance.

In 2010 Gail was selected for the UK’s top 50 Women to Watch List, organised by the Government funded Cultural Leadership Programme. highlighting talent from a variety of backgrounds – from independent consultants to business directors and those working within some of our leading organisations – and aims to inspire future generations to be equally dynamic and ambitious.

Here’s what Clore said about Gail: “Gail’s work impacts on the people around her. For the last ten years, she has made a significant contribution to Africa people’s dance nationally and on Birmingham’s communities, particularly amongst members of the black working class.”

In 2011 she was voted as one of 20 Inspirational Women from the African Diaspora in Europe in celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the African Diaspora Professional Women in Europe (ADIPWE), has asked members of the public to nominate women of African origin in Europe who they find inspirational. This list reflects the diversity of Diaspora women and shows how well they have infiltrated all sectors of industry: they are engineers, scientists, inventors, bankers, doctors, artists, media personalities, writers, speakers, bankers, politicians and entrepreneurs.

Gail commented: I feel truly honoured to have been selected as one of 20 women to receive the first ever ADPWIE award. Being recognised as an inspirational woman, not only by my peers, but by members of the public is humbling and gives me a wonderful sense of achievement. ‘Paving a way for the next generation is paramount to my existence and I am proud of the fact that my work and my company touch the lives of real people.’

ACE dance and music is now in the process of creating a 9th production for UK touring ‘Mana’ and in 2014 will be creating ‘7 pillars’ to tour in the UK and South Africa. Including an international exchange programme for ACE Youth with Flatfoot youth dance company in South Africa. In addition to Directing two full-length touring productions between now and 2014, Gail will also be overseeing the re-development of ACE’s home in Birmingham. She will have her work cut out for her that’s for sure, but the team here at ACE dance and music have no doubt that she will acheive her goals!


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