Lucy Guerin Inc (LGI) is delighted to announce Rachael Wallis as its First Nations Resident for 2023.

The First Nations Residency will support Rachael with a fee, production support and dedicated studio time at Carriageworks in Sydney and LGI’s home in North Melbourne, WXYZ Studios.

Rachael Wallis is a versatile dancer and choreographer based in the Northern Territory with a 30+ year career working nationally and internationally in traditional and contemporary dance styles. Rachael studied at NAISDA Dance College and toured with Bangarra Dance Theatre in the early 2000s before moving to Nhulunbuy to teach dance. She is currently the Artistic Director of Miku Performing Arts, a First Nations performance company based on Yolngu Country in North East Arnhem Land.

Rachael marvels at the importance of dance in traditional cultures and communities and is artistically driven by the stories, song, music and dance that surround her. Her works are inspired by powerful stories from ancestors conducive to keeping culture alive and constant through performance. It is her honour and privilege creating works that bridge generations and recognise the deep connections of First Nations Peoples.

Some of Miku’s current and recent collaborations include: Gapu Ngupan (Chasing the Rainbow) with a talented group of First Nations singers, musicians and dancers from Taiwan, set to premiere in 2024/5; Wuyal (Sugar Bag Man) with Tracks Dance Company; a brand-new project with Darwin Symphony Orchestra, as yet untitled; Wanga (Spirit) with NT Dance Company; and Milnjiya (Milky Way – River of Stars) with Gary Lang and WA Ballet.

As a member of the Stolen Generation, Rachael is still searching for her Country and family of birth. She has Yolgnu family in Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land, where she has lived and worked for 20 years.

The LGI First Nations Residency was created in 2021 through a multi-year partnership between BlakDance, national industry and producing organisation for First Nation contemporary dance based on Turrbal and Yuggera Country in Meanjin (Brisbane, Queensland) and Lucy Guerin Inc, the critically acclaimed contemporary dance company located on the lands of the Kulin Nation in Naarm (Melbourne, Victoria). Carriageworks, Australia’s largest multi-art centre based on Gadigal Country (Sydney, NSW) joined the partnership in 2022 to further support the program and expand its reach.

This partnership between LGI, BlakDance, and Carriageworks reflects the organisations’ shared goal to support Senior First Nations artists at various career stages and redress the historical lack of support in non-Indigenous organisations for First Nations dance artists. This opportunity is designed to both celebrate and support First Nations dance artists’ work by providing a space for the development of new work or ongoing research into their artistic practice. The program is also an important part of a cultural engagement strategy by LGI to improve representation, opportunities, and career pathways available for First Nations artists in contemporary dance.

Previous First Nations Residents include Narangga and Kaurna man Jacob Boehme, and Darug woman Peta Strachan. The program will continue to develop with artistic self-determination at its core.

This program has been generously supported by the Linnell/Hughes Trust and the Australian Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund.

Lucy Guerin Inc is assisted by the City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

BlakDance is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Carriageworks is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, and the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Estelle Conley, Producer