National Dance Forum 2015

The National Dance Forum is the most significant platform for dialogue across the Australian contemporary dance sector. In 2015, dancers, makers, researchers, writers, directors, producers, advocates and educators participated in three days of discussions and dialogue about the inherent concerns and realities affecting current professional practice in Australia. 

Ausdance NSW was able to send 10 NSW artists, both individuals and organizations, to the National Dance Forum in Melbourne thanks to Arts NSW. 


You can read about their experiences in our National Dance Forum Booklet.


Our representatives at the NDF 2015:

Philip Channells (Creative Director, Dance Integrated Australia) began training in 1998 at The Conservatorium in Lismore before joining the CPA (Adelaide College of the Arts) and Link Dance Company (2003) at WAAPA. He spent the first eight years of his career in Australia, gaining an understanding of community cultural development and disability cultural practice, before moving to the UK in 2007.

In the UK he worked with Candoco, StopGAP & Corali dance companies, Scottish Dance Theatre, East London Dance and Goldsmiths University of London. In Australia he worked with Accessible Arts, Ausdance NSW/Qld/SA/Vic & WA, Carriageworks, DADAA WA (Tracksuit), dFaces of Youth, DirtyFeet, MCA, No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, Restless Dance Theatre, Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre, Studio Aperio, SOH and Tutti Arts.

Phillip spent 10 years working with Restless where he was the Artistic Director (2009 – 2012). He directed Next of Kin – no ordinary status family (2010) and was one of 8 choreographers at the Australian Youth Dance Festival 2012. His other choreographic credits include: PERFECT (im)PERFECTIONS – stories untoldThe Main Event (2014 & 2015), Skin-deepEnter & Exit (2013), Second SkininPerspective #1Lythophytes & Epiphytes (2012).

Philip is fiercely committed to the development of thriving artistic cultural communities that integrate people from diverse age groups, backgrounds & life experience. Through his work in Australia, the UK, Norway, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong & Papua New Guinea, Philip builds a collaborative environment conducive to creativity and social inclusion.

Philip is an Ambassador to the Artist in Residence program at Bundanon Trust and an AMP Tomorrow Maker.

Sarah-Vyne Vassallo 

Sarah-Vyne Vassallo is an independent creative producer, director and choreographer and has worked across commercial and contemporary dance, theatre, television and community arts spanning two decades. Sarah-Vyne is a recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship where she undertook research and professional development with world leaders of integrated dance practice. During her Fellowship she spent time working in the United Kingdom with Candoco Dance Company, StopGap, GDance, Caroline Bowditch and Marc Brew and in America with AXIS Dance Company.

Sarah-Vyne is the Artistic Director of the recently established Murmuration Dance Theatre, working in close partnership with Dan Daw, her Artistic Associate. She currently facilitates the Right Foot workshops in collaboration with DirtyFeet and directs Bankstown Arts Centre’s, Verve Ensemble, a community-based integrated training and performance program for young people in Sydney’s Greater Western Sydney. Sarah-Vyne is an arts consultant to Accessible Arts, Board Member of regionally based integrated program, Studio Aperio and freelance producer for PXsquared.

Throughout her career she has worked with; Sydney Festival, Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art, Critical Path, Ausdance, FORM Dance Projects, Shaun Parker and Company, Sidetrack Theatre, Disney, ABC, Screentime and Channel 7. In her former position as Arts Development Manager at Accessible Arts she developed the Catalyst Dance program and managed projects for Arts NSW, Aging Disability and Home Care, and Ausdance NSW.

Cadi McCarthy has been actively engaged in dance as a professional dancer, choreographer, educator and director since 1996. In 2014 the work Look the Other Way received an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth and Community Dance produced by Buzz Dance Theatre, WA directed by Cadi McCarthy in collaboration with associate artist Laura Boynes. From 2009 to 2013 Cadi McCarthy was the Artistic Director of Buzz Dance Theatre, a national and state triennially funded professional dance company based in Perth, WA. With the company she created 10 full-length works including Behind the Veneer, Restless, Fragile, Stop! Don’t Blink, Goodbye Jamie  Boyd (a collaboration between Sydney based theatre company Monkey  Baa and Buzz Dance Theatre) and Look the Other Way. The community programs she established with the company include the largest Artist in Residence Grant (AIR) in Australia, collaboration with Southern Edge Arts Albany, the Big Stretch program recipient of the WA Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community/ Regional Dance and the 2010 Australian Arts and Aboriginal Health Award.  She was also the education consultant for the Queensland Ballet Company and the Western Australian Ballet. Previous to this position, Cadi danced professionally with Paige Gordon and Performance Group (1996 – 1998) and with Buzz Dance Theatre (1998–2002).  She created the independent company Cadi McCarthy & Company in the ACT  (2002 – 2009).  As an independent artist in Canberra she was the recipient of the 2004 & 2006 Canberra Critics Circle Awards in Dance.   As a recipient of a 2007 Churchill Fellowship, Cadi spent time working with dance companies in Denmark, UK, Germany, USA, and Canada. In the same year she was awarded a choreographic residency at Chez Bushwick in New York. In 2009 Cadi travelled to Taiwan as the Australian delegate of the World Dance Alliance, International Choreographic Project. Cadi McCarthy has now established Catapult dance in Newcastle, NSW.  Catapult is a new contemporary dance not for profit organisation that supports professional choreographers, and emerging artist and young people from the Central Coast, Hunter and Greater Hunter. Cadi holds a Masters in Education, Diploma of Education (Secondary) and (Further Education & Training), and a BA Dance (WAAPA).  

Gabby Rose has been Associate Director with fLiNG Physical Theatre since the start of 2013. fLiNG Physical Theatre is a professionally supported Youth Dance Company based in Bega, Australia. During her time with the company she has assisted in the development and production of new work, delivered company training programs and has contributed to management of fLiNG’s work within the vibrant community of the Bega Valley.

Gabrielle holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Performance Creation (Choreography) from the Victorian College of the Arts, a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Education (Dance and Theatre Studies) from the University of New South Wales and was a participant in the Solo Performance Residency at Victoria University. In both Australia and the UK Gabrielle has presented her own choreographic work, facilitated learning and making processes, worked as a performer and produced events that served as a platform for other dance artists. Gabrielle was also recipient of the Wilma Firth Award for outstanding achievement in Dance Education.


Rob McCredie - Rob is the Youth Company Director of fLiNG Physical Theatre, Rob graduated with a bachelor of dance from VCA in 2006, and has since been working as a dancer, collaborator, choreographer and designer. 

As a performer, he has worked with numerous independent artists in Melbourne, Sydney and London. Most recently he has been working with Legs on the Wall/Form Dance Projects for their coproduction Puncture for Sydney Festival 2015, as well as working on projects with independent artists Jess Devereux, Rebecca Jensen and Melissa Jones.

He has previously worked as a design assistant in theatre film and tv, and has created set installations for choreographers Fiona Bryant and Jo Lloyd. Rob has an ongoing collaboration with Holly Durant as HORO!, creating work integrating dance and design. 

Miranda Wheen is an independent dancer based in Sydney. A highly versatile performer, she has collaborated with a number of companies and choreographers throughout Australia and internationally, including: Shaun Parker and Company, Mirramu Dance Company, Restless Dance Theatre, Martin Del Amo, Marrugeku, Stalker Theatre and the Tsai Jui-Yueh Dance Foundation in Taiwan, among others. Miranda has studied in Senegal, West Africa, with choreographer Germaine Acogny at L'Ecole des Sables, the International School for Contemporary and Traditional African Dance, and for three years was a participant in the International Indigenous Choreographic Laboratories held in Sydney, Broome and Auckland. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Western Sydney, where she was awarded the Dean's Medal, and a First Class Honours from Macquarie University.

For 7 years, Ian RT Colless, has been the Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer of Untitled|Collective. Under his Directorship this establishment has been commissioned to create works at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater (NYC), La MaMa Moves Dance Festival (Broadway, NYC), The Queens Fringe Festival (NYC), Summer Stage Central Park (NYC), The Australian Consulate (NYC), RUBABOO Arts Festival (Canada) hosted by Alberta Aboriginal Arts, The Brisbane Festival’s ‘Indigenous Closing Ceremony’ (Brisbane), LINK Dance Company (Perth), DirtyFeet (Sydney), to name a few, and the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (NYC). 

Based between Sydney (Eora) and Manhattan, he maintains strong links to his community in Australia. He is a descendent of the Dharabuladh (Therabluat) clan of the Gundungurra Nation.

In 2012 he was awarded The Roberta Sykes Scholarship from the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation to study at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development where he earned his Masters in Dance. 

Colless has worked for the Aboriginal Center for the Performing Arts (Brisbane), WAAPA Aboriginal Theater Course (Perth) & NYU. At NYU he completed an Independent Study and developed a personal ballet curriculum, Currently teaching at the Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year, NAISDA Dance College and The University of Sydney.

Colless has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre (Canada) and PAF, the Performing Arts Forum (France). He has also been commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Australia Council for the Arts, The American Australian Association, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Ars Musica Australis, the McDonald Foundation Cultural Trust, the Australian Consulate (NYC) The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia) and the United Nations (NYC).

Internationally, Colless has performed, choreographed and produced throughout Australia, as well as in China, The Netherlands, Uganda, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Portugal.

Annalouise Paul is an independent choreographer, dancer and actor. Trained at the Laban Centre in London and with key flamenco maestros in Spain, she has danced for Bill T. Jones Co., Aletta Collins, Antonio Vargas Co., Karole Armitage and Michael Jackson. She has been making intercultural dance theatre for almost three decades. Her work explores the nexus of traditional and contemporary languages and intracultural approaches to hybridism.

Most recently, her live music-dance trilogy Isabel, Game on, Mother Tongue was completed after a decade of research and development exploring identity and transformation. Self Portrait, a new solo work in development explores one person’s path to self-sovereignty. Co-created with Anne-Louise Rentell and supported by Merrigong Theatre Co.,The Joan, Blacktown Arts Centre. In 2015, she begins a new Singapore-Australian collaboration with Maya Dance Theatre and a new work for ‘On The Cusp’ at Bangarra Studios.

Theatre of Rhythm and Dance is an emerging intercultural arts company with a focus on contemporary cultural diversity. It won the Australian Arts In Asia Award and NSW Premier’s Export Scholarship for its inaugural international tours in India for Game On

Thomas Kelly is a proud Wiradjuri and Bundjalung man from Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. In 2012 he graduated from NAISDA Dance College (National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association) and has since worked with the likes of Graeme Watson, Kim Walker, Taane Mete(NZ), Tairoa Royal(NZ), Jock Soto(USA) and Lina Cruz(CAN).

In 2014 Thomas had a Jump Mentorship under Vicki Van Hout. During that time he had the opportunity to complete the NIDA Acting Techniques 1 short course at NIDA. He also was able to begin a first stage development on a 25 minute solo work, “Jarrah’s Old Uncle”, at Campbelltown Arts Centre.He also choreographed a work for Short + Sweet Sydney titled “NYUNGA” which was received quite well, remounted twice and extended into a 20 minute piece for the Homeground Festival at the Sydney Opera House.

In September 2014 Thomas went to Canada where he partook in a 4 week professional Indigenous Dance Residency where he danced and choreographed in the show “Trace” which was performed at the Summer Banff Festival in Alberta, Canada under the direction of Red Sky’s Artistic Director Sandra Laronde(CAN).

Thomas is currently performing in Vicki Van Hout’s latest full-length work “Long Grass” which had it’s world premiere at the 2015 Sydney Festival at the Seymour Centre and will have a season apart of the 2015 Dance Massive Festival in Melbourne.

Vicki Van Hout is a Wiradjuri woman born on the south coast of NSW. An independent choreographer, performance‐maker and teacher, she has worked across a range of performance mediums nationally and internationally. Her work practice emanates from the belief that all cultural information is fluid in its relevance and that we both exchange in and adhere to patterns of cultural behaviour and its tacit meanings. In particular, Vicki’s work aims to explore the commonality between traditional and urban cultural experience, and how indigenous cultural information can be drawn upon to make sense of both. A graduate of the National Aboriginal Islander Dance College (NAISDA), Vicki has learnt and performed dances from Yirrkala, Turkey and Christmas Creeks, Mornington and Bathurst Islands, as well as Murray, Moa and Saibai Islands in the Torres Strait. Vicki also studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York and has danced with companies including Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre and Bangarra Dance Theatre. Vicki has danced for culturally significant events, including the 30th Anniversary of the 1967 Aboriginal Referendum and the first Indigenous opening of Parliament in the lead up to the 2008 National Apology. In addition to her ongoing work in Australia, Vicki has secured several international choreographic residencies, which have included engagements in Austria and Singapore through the World Dance Alliance. She regularly choreographs for a range of diverse educational and arts organisations and collaborates with other performance artists. She has been part of de Quincey Co’s ImproLab over several years. Vicki performed for the 2010 Sydney Festival in Urban Theatre Projects’ critically acclaimed production of The Fence, which won Best Independent Production at the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Lizzie Thomson is a Sydney-based choreographer and performer working across dance and visual art contexts. Her practice is grounded in a rigorous movement investigation, with an interest in the dancing body as a site for cultural inquiry. Her work takes the form of live performance, video and sculpture. Lizzie has presented work at Carriageworks, Performance Space, Campbelltown Arts Centre, ALASKA Projects, ACO Air Hong Kong, Eastern Bloc Gallery and Kudos Gallery. She is currently developing new work for Carriageworks’ screen-dance project 24 Frames Per Second; participating in a two-year International Exchange between Campbelltown Arts Centre and Zodiak Centre for New Dance in Finland; and engaged in a project with Erin Brannigan and Matthew Day researching Dance in Museums. Lizzie has performed in works by artists including Marina Abramovic, Joan Jonas, Jochen Roller, Hans Van den Broeck, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Rosalind Crisp, Jane McKernan, Julie-Anne Long, Dean Walsh, Samuel James, Nikki Heywood and many others. She holds undergraduate degrees in both Dance (QUT, 1996) and Fine Arts (COFA, UNSW, 2012).


Image from Ian RT Colless


Image provided by Denise King

Photo supplied by Thomas Kelly