Kay Armstrong, Artistic Director
A graduate of W.A.A.P.A, Kay has worked professionally as a performer and choreographer in theatre, film, television, corporate theatre and street theatre for the last 25 years.
Kay was awarded the prestigious Robert Helpmann Scholarship in 2004 and in 2013 she was awarded the prestigious national Ausdance Peggy Van Praagh Fellowship for established artist.
Between 2007- 2012 Kay devoted her career to the development of Sydney’s emerging dance sector. She was Artistic Director of 2 youth companies pulse8 (2007+2008) and youMove (2009 – 2012).
In the wake of resigning from youMove and the company folding Kay has been prolific, re-investing in her practice by working across several sectors and in a variety of lead directorial and management roles, as well continuing her choreographic and performance development. Since 2013 Kay has produced two new solo works (100th Monkey, AN HOUR WITH KAY Old 505 Theatre Freshworks), several performance projects with disability service provider Sunnyfield (Momentum AGNSW, The Many Me’s Rockdale Council, Transformational Stare Fest), Guest choreographer (Vivid Festival, Sydney Fringe Festival Platform Shots, Catalyst national dance residency, Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year), artist residencies (Dance Sites, Readymade Moving Ideas Solo Residency, Sydney University Centre for Performance Studies, Q Lab Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre) and working with young people (lead artist for Extraordinary/ Ordinary, a video art project through Campbelltown Arts Centre and special needs students of Mater Dei High School, Flannofest The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre annual youth arts festival).
She hit the ground running in 2016 letting her alter ego Bike welcome in the New Year at the Short and Sweet Cabaret Festival with guest M.C-ing role and a solo performance in that got her a place in the festival grand finals. She is also working with the emerging artists at Sydney Dance Company’s Pre Professional Year and peer mentoring Margot Politis in her new work Forest Unyielding.
Kay will be returning to work with the Sydney Street Choir, to make a new work Blue Skies, and creating a movement piece for the guest choir at the gala of Short and Sweet Voices.
Natalie Ayton, Assistant to the Artistic Director
Natalie Ayton is an internationally respected physical theatre performer, dancer, choreographer, movement director, workshop leader and teacher currently based in Sydney, Australia.
Some of the highlights of her career include: Gecko - Being a core creative member of the critically acclaimed physical theatre company; performing, touring and leading workshops internationally with THE RACE and most recently THE OVERCOAT which won two awards in China for outstanding performance within theatre. Candoco Dance Company - A contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers; touring nationally and internationally in season 2007/2008 dancing works by Rafeal Bonachela and Arthur Pita. New Adventures - Dancing the roles of The Girlfriend & Spanish Princess for Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE touring world wide.
Aside from performing with companies, Natalie has been heavily involved in providing dance / physical theatre workshops around the world. She has an ability to connect with her students, creating a loyal following globally. Natalie Ayton shares her love of dance and performance with others through performing and teaching.
David Capra, Visual Artist
Photographer: Alex Wisser
David is an artist who enjoys working with the community to give them opportunity to direct and bring meaning to his art. Past projects have included Teena’s Bathtime at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Eau Wet Dogge at West Space Gallery and Melbourne Fashion week. He recently helped Casula Powerhouse celebrate their 21st birthday, curating a night of performance, workshops and food for Party Party Party. In 2013 he was the recipient of The Blake Prize's John Coburn Emerging Artist Award and curated a comprehensive survey of Western Sydney in a special edition of Das Superpaper under a mentorship with C3 West coordinator Anne Loxley. In 2012 David collaborated with Mikala Dwyer and Justene Williams at Rydalmere Public School for the Artist in Schools Residency. His work has appeared in Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Penrith Regional Gallery, Performance Space, Museum of Australia, Tiny Stadiums Festival, Artspace, Australian Experimental Art Foundation and Hazlehurst Regional Gallery. In 2015 he co-directed Motion Pictures: A Festival of New Cinema with Kate Blackmore (Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Fairfield). He recently curated Party Party Party in celebration of the 21st birthday of Casula Powerhouse Art Centre.
Omer Backley - Astrachan, Guest Choreographer
Omer Backley-Astrachan was born in Israel in 1987. Omer joined 'Kamea Dance Company', (Israel) in 2009, as a leading dancer, performing in works by choreographers Tamir Ginz, Uri Ivgi, Lior Lev and more. In 2011 Omer joined the 'Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company' and performed in the creations of Artistic Director Rami Be'er. Seeking his own artistic path, in 2012 Omer moved to Tel-Aviv where he worked and collaborated with established choreographers such as Rotem Tashach, Maya Levi, Sally-Anne Friedland and more. As well as this Omer worked as a freelance dancer with 'Jerusalem Dance Theater' performing in works by choreographer Lior Lev. In late 2012 Omer joined 'Idan Cohen Dance Company' performing in a number of company works, as well as two solo pieces with which he toured to Singapore, USA, Brazil and South Korea. Since his transition to Sydney in late 2014 Omer has worked with various artists such as Marina Abramovic, Dean Walsh, Jay Bailey, Brendan Cook and more. Along side his dance career Omer is developing his own art and dance practice. His most recent creation (TOHU) in collaboration with his wife and partner Sharon has granted them residencies with 'BrandX' and 'Bundanon Trust'. Omer is a teacher at NAISDA (National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association) and Ev & Bow Dance Training Academy as well as a guest teacher at Bangarra Dance Company.
Diane Busuttil, Guest Choreographer
Diane Busuttil holds a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in dance from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She has since performed all over the world with a diverse range of artistic groups in the capacity of dancer, actor, acrobat, teacher, choreographer, producer and director.
After being the recipient of a scholarship from the DAAD Germany and completing her post graduate studies at The International Women’s University in Hannover, Germany in 2000, Busuttil began working with choreographers Be van Vark, Ami Garmon, Marco Berrettini, Jan Fabre, Post Theatre and Meg Stuart in Berlin. She was a founding member of Constanza Macras and the Dorky Park Ensemble whom she worked with for eight years touring dance theatre works throughout the world.
Busuttil was commissioned by several International Theatre directors and collaborated and performed in Canada with Theatre Junction. She choreographed Cheap Blood, an opera/musical theatre version of “Carrie” by Steven King at the Sophiensaele Berlin. Busuttil co-created Salting the Tail in Oslo, Norway and performed and choreographed Intrigo Internationale, a contemporary opera at Radiale System Berlin, as well as performing in Good Little Soldier with Australian group, The Farm. A highlight of her performance experience was working with renowned Argentine theatre director Rodrigo Garcia.
Her award winning short films have screened at over fifty International film festivals. In 2014, Fresh Fruit, her latest short, was the recipient of a Taste Award in LA, Hollywood, and Curdled, a short dance film, was nominated for an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film/New Media.
She is currently partaking in a Higher Degree Research Masters at Macquarie University, Sydney, focusing on the somatic connection between dance/movement and camera work, investigating areas such as Independent and experimental cinema and cinematic subjectivity. Her latest short film, commissioned by ABC, will be screened in April 2017.
Margot Politis, Guest Choreographer
Margot is a recognised leader in inclusive arts practice as a performer, choreographer, and devisor of new dance theatre work. Currently Associate Director at Milk Crate Theatre, and formerly Accessibility Director at Shopfront Arts, she was awarded a Cultural Leadership Grant from The Australia Council for the Arts in 2013. She has performed and studied with Restless Dance Theatre (South Australia), and various dance companies and artists in the UK and USA, including Axis Dance (California), The Gabrielle Roth Moving Centre (California, New York City), Tricia Brouk (NYC, development of solo work, Cuckoo), Candoco Dance Company, Stopgap Dance Company, Mind The Gap, Graeae Theatre Company, and Oily Cart.
As an independent practitioner, Margot is currently working with Ausdance NSW on Wastenot/The Environment Project, Dirty Feet as key artist on the Right Foot program, and on Catalyst, with Accessible Arts NSW and Murmuration. She has worked extensively with Accessible Arts NSW, Tasdance, The Song Room, Ever After Theatre/Red Door Arts at Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre, Autism Spectrum Australia, The Autism Community Network, and Riverside Theatre’s Beyond the Square program.
As a solo artist Margot has developed many dance theatre works, currently in development of Neural Pathways, a group installation piece, comprising film and live performance, exploring human habit and the sparking of neurons. This project is funded by Arts NSW, supported by Accessible Arts NSW and will launch at 107 Projects in May 2016.
Margot runs outreach workshops in school support units, as well as having directed the Bodylines dance theatre ensembles for young people with disability, resident at Shopfront. Bodylines, has produced two dance theatre films (Zombie vs Bird, Reaching Out Over & Over); and in 2014 created their first full length performance work, Out of Line, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts Community Partnerships. Out of Line was presented at ATYP in 2015, precursing a co-production between the organisations.
Imogen Cranna, Digital Artist/Interactive Sound Mapping
Imogen is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Sydney. In 2009, she joined youMove Company, and has had the opportunity to work with Australian choreographers, Kay Armstrong, Emma Saunders, Anton, Tony Osborne, Ian Colless and Sarah Vyne-Vassallo. Following her desire to create hybrid art with the interactive media program, Isadora, Imogen held an artist residency with Eramboo Artist Environment from 2009 to 2012. In 2010, her multimedia work Tyche appeared in the Sydney Fringe Festival. In 2012, she toured nationally as the new media artist on Vicki Van Hout’s critically acclaimed production Briwyant. In 2013, she collaborated as both a performer and media artist for The Living Room Theatre’s premiere of Michelle St Anne’s award winning theatre work, I Love Todd Sampson.
In 2014, Imogen presented ĭn-dwĕl′ for Dance Meets Music and created a public interactive sound installation, entitled play, as the inaugural recipient of the Enliven Pittwater Artist in Residence. This year, she collaborated as composer and media artist for Cloé Fournier’s full-length work, Dining [Uns]-Table and undertook a Curated Residency at QL2 to develop her work WiTNESS. Most recently, she appeared in Victoria Hunt’s multi-disciplinary work Tangi Wai, as part of LIVEWORKS 2015, Performance Space’s Festival of Experimental Art.
Thomas Smith, Sound Artist/Composer
James Paul, Guest Choir Master
James Paul is a music director, choral conductor and composer with experience across all styles of music including classical and contemporary music, pop, music theatre, jazz, gospel, and world music. James studied Communications at UTS and a Masters of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
James currently runs choral programs in a number of primary and secondary schools across Sydney, as well as directing a number of adult community choirs. Previously he has created school-wide choral programs in NSW public schools, mentoring classroom teachers in choral techniques. He has also directed a number of musicals as well as regularly producing concerts, fundraisers, community events, massed choir performances, camps and interstate tours for all of his ensembles. James also has a very strong sense of social responsibility, having taught music to people with disabilities, young offenders in the prison system, people with mental health issues, and children in disadvantaged areas. He is also the director of the Sydney Street Choir, a choir for the homeless and disadvantaged in Sydney.
Gordo is a bucket drummer from Sydney who studied drumming at the Tokyo School of Music. After two years of dedicated study and practice, performing on the streets of Tokyo to earn his living Gordo returned to Australia to take up street performing full time. He plays drums on regular dulux buckets, busking across Sydney, using the knowledge and skills learnt whilst overseas.
As a result of his bucket drumming he has had the opportunity to work on many different artistic projects with many talented people across the world. He currently runs his own Youtube channel, performs in a number of independent Sydney bands and has featured in performances for ad campaigns, business launches and corporate events.
Team 9 Lives, Pop Up Dance Crew
Team 9Lives specialize in Parkour and Physical Movement Originated and based out of Fairfield, South-West Sydney, they run classes across Sydney for all skill levels and all ages, and have been moving since 2004. With performance experience ranging from Australian theatre right through to film and television, they're committed to bringing the raw energy of the streets and the true power of physical movement to capture and entertain audiences.