Vicki Van Hout, Gary Lang & Long Grass Artist Biographies

Vicki Van Hout, Director & Choreographer

vicki croppedVicki 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.

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.

Her last full length show, Briwyant, premiered at Performance Space in 2011, and toured to Malthouse Theatre (Melbourne), Brisbane Powerhouse and Darwin Festival in 2012, the first ever national tour of a work by an independent indigenous choreographer. It was nominated for an Australian Dance Award for Best Achievement in Independent Dance. Vicki was recently awarded the 2014 NSW Dance Fellowship for established and mid-career artists – the first Indigenous winner of the Fellowship. She is currently working on a commission for Carriageworks, as part of 24 Frames Per Second, a major exhibition of screen-based dance works by Australian and international artists premiering in June.

Vicki says: “My Practice is inspired by indigenous Australian aesthetics, custom and politics. I have strived, and continue to develop, a unique movement vocabulary which inclusively acknowledges my diverse Indigenous and mainstream contemporary dance training as graduate of NAISDA Dance college and Martha Graham NYC. I believe that indigenous cultural expression is inherently interdisciplinary. As a student of NAISDA we sang while performing Torres Strait Islander dances, learned to drum in accompaniment, made head dresses, beaded rattles, woven skirts and painted bodies. My current processes are a logical extension of this, whereby I encourage my collective performers to draw on and contribute their experience as diverse makers of art. This often lays down the foundation for a significant work before I enlist further specialist consultation. I try to make the creative process a working affirmation/perpetuation of our culture.”

Reviews of Briwyant

Gary Lang, Choreographic Collaborator, Cultural Consultant & Voice/Sound

Gary is a Larrakia man, fellow graduate of NAISDA Dance College, residing in Darwin. He is a natural storyteller often sharing unsolicited local knowledge via personal anecdotes. He has intimate experience of the Long Grassers ‘life through family connection. As well as performer/choreographer, Gary is a painter and hair dresser. Both occupations compliment his heightened sense of aesthetics as his intricate weaving was a part of the elite competitive hair circuit and his paintings consist of equally painstaking attention to very fine detail. Gary has worked as dancer/choreographer with Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, Bangarra Dance Theatre and with Darwin based Tracks Dance Company, before founding Gary Lang NT Dance. Lang’s works such as Entrapment (2004), Munuk Gapu Freshwater Saltwater (2008) and Goose Lagoon (2010) combine traditional Indigenous stories and performance styles with contemporary dance. He is currently a Dance Board fellow working on numerous projects including Mokoi, funded by the Dance Board.

Phil Downing, Sound Designer

Phil has worked with Erth Visual & Physical extensively for over a decade; designing soundtracks using an array of unique and conventional instruments. Highlights include Murder (MFI commission by Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival and Ten Days on the Island, 2013), Garden (Melbourne Festival & international), All Mother (Street Theatre, Canberra), Gondwana (National Gallery Canberra / International), The Nargun and the Stars (Sydney & Perth Festivals), & Taniwha (Auckland War Memorial Museum). Other highlights include: The Piper (My Darling Patricia for Sydney Festival, 2014), Posts in the Paddock and Politely Savage (My Darling Patricia 2005, 2012), Exchange music program in juvenile detention (2000), recording and touring with bands (Dogbuoy 1998,  Faker  Addicted  Romantic 2005), mastering Quartz Composer (video manipulation program), and producing recordings for himself and others.

Clytie Smith, Lighting Designer

Clytie Smith has over 15 experience working  as a production manager and lighting designer for contemporary performance, theatre and dance, predominantly working at Performance Space and Carriageworks with broad selection of Sydney based artists. She worked for the large-scale promenade works for Sydney Festival Minto Live! and Funpark (2014), and on production for the large scale Indigenous work Gathering Ground, history, ceremony, protest in Redfern.

Darren Edwards, Dancer

Darren was born and bred in Darwin. He started his dancing career with Gary Lang at the 2006 Dreaming Festival in Woodford QLD. This sparked his love for dance and since then he has performed at the 2006 Deadly Awards, 2007 Dreaming Festival, 2007 Darwin Festival in IMoves, 2007 Strut Festival Perth and the 2008 Quinkan for esteemed Indigenous choreographer Marilyn Miller. Darren was part of the ensemble involved in Goose Lagoon and worked with Gary Lang and OCHRE Contemporary Indigenous Dance Company. Darren performed an acting role in ‘Slow Falling Bird’ directed by Gail Evans for the Darwin Theatre Company in 2013. His acting career continued in 2014 performing in ‘The Hoist’ directed by Gail Evans for the Darwin Theatre Company. Darren toured with ‘The Gift of Life’ through Western Australia in 2014 with Artback NT. Darren was part of the latest Gary Lang NT Dance production – Mokuy (Spirit). This will be Darren’s fifth production with Gary Lang NT Dance Company, is currently working with Vicki Van Hout for her contemporary dance piece ‘Longrass’ in 2015.

Thomas E. S. Kelly, Dancer

Thomas is a proud Wiradjuri and Bundjalung man from Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. In 2012 he graduated from NAISDA Dance College and has since worked with Graeme Watson, Kim Walker, Taane Mete (NZ), Tairoa Royal (NZ), Jock Soto (USA) and Lina Cruz (CAN). In 2014 he undertook a Jump Mentorship under Vicki Van Hout, completed the NIDA Acting Techniques 1 short course at NIDA, and completed a first stage development on a 25 minute solo work, “Jarrah’s Old Uncle”, at Campbelltown Arts Centre. He also choreographed Nyunga for Short + Sweet Sydney, later remounted twice and extended to a 20 minute piece for the Homeground Festival at the Sydney Opera House. In September 2014 Thomas he was part of a 4 week professional Indigenous Dance Residency in Canada, where he danced and choreographed in the show Trace at the Summer Banff Festival, directed by Red Sky’s Artistic Director Sandra Laronde.

Katina Olsen, Dancer

Wakka Wakka and Kombumerri woman. Katina has performed nationally and internationally for Bangarra Dance Theatre 2007-10, Frances Rings and Narelle Benjamin’s Forseen (Debris & The Dark Room) 2011, Tess de Quincey’s No Cold Feet 2011, I Am Eora (Sydney Festival 2012), Erth’s Murder (MFI commission 2013) and Bernadette Walong-Sene’s Bone Woman…when all is gone 2014. She received a danceWEB scholarship in 2011 and two JUMP mentorships in 2014: Individually with Philip Channells and Dance Makers Collective with Michelle Silby. Career highlights also include choreographing for the production Walking into the Bigness directed by Wayne Blair and Chris Mead, Malthouse Theatre 2014 and Instar as part of Dance Makers Collective’s premiere work Big Dance in Small Chunks at Parramatta Riverside, 2013.

Caleena Sansbury, Dancer

Caleena Sansbury studied dance at National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Association (NAISDA). She travelled to Saibai Island, Torres Straits and Elcho Island, North East Arnhem Land spending time in community learning culture and dance, before graduating in 2013. She worked at Ochre Dance Company on secondment, dancing in ‘Dreamtide’, performing a duo choreographed by Kristina Chan called ‘Two Player Game’ and has also worked with Vick Van Hout including in a piece called ‘Community phone’.

She has performed in Short and Sweet festival, toured to Vanuatu in ‘Yellaka’, and to Scotland with Sydney Opera House’s Boomerang festival. Caleena has choreographed a dance work for young indigenous children in Nowra performing a collaborated piece called ‘Transmit’. Shortly after Caleena completed a two-week internship with Australian Dance Theatre. Caleena has the makings of a great dancer and has an energetic charisma that brings to life her personality on stage with a defined quality in her movement that remains true to her cultural heritage.

Taree Sansbury, Dancer

Taree Sansbury is a recent graduate from NAISDA Dance College, NSW, Australia. Highlights from Taree’s time with NAISDA include, performing at the Sydney Opera House for the Deadly Awards, learning from traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and performing works choreographed by Frances Rings, Kristina Chan and Gary Lang in 2013. Upon becoming a freelance dance artist Taree has had the opportunity to be a part of various initiatives including this 2014’s Short and Sweet festival, Opera House’s 2104 Homeground festival and Won Smol Bag International Theatre Festival in Vanuatu. Taree was a performer in Force Majeure’s two-year Culminate/Cultivate program which was closely followed by a three-week internship with Australian Dance Theatre in August 2014.

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