October 3, 2017

The Keir Foundation, Carriageworks and Dancehouse today announced the eight artists who have been selected for the 2018 Keir Choreographic Award, Australia’s first major choreographic award, supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The artists were selected by a high-profile international jury to take part in the biennial competition, dedicated to the commissioning, presentation, promotion and dissemination of new Australian choreography. The selected artists are: Amrita Hepi, Melanie Lane, Bhenji Ra, Nana Biluš Abaffy, Luke George, Lillian Steiner, Prue Lang and Branch Nebula (Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters).

Launched in 2014, the Keir Choreographic Award looks to identify and illuminate experimental choreographic practices occurring in the Australian context today. For the third edition of the Award, the eight finalists will present their new work at Melbourne’s Dancehouse from 6 – 10 March 2018, with four chosen to go on to a season at Carriageworks in Sydney from 15 – 17 March 2018 to compete for the accolade of the $30,000 Award and the $10,000 Audience Choice Award.

Keir Choreographic Award Founder Phillip Keir said: “I am delighted to see how the award has developed over the last 6 years. The range and depth of the applicants has truly made the deliberations of the jury more difficult than ever this time around. Congratulations to the final eight commissioned artists.”

Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah, said: “Carriageworks congratulates the eight artists selected for the 2018 Award and is proud to support them in making new choreographic work. Supporting artists to create new work lies at the heart of the Carriageworks program and the Keir Choreographic Award is central to our programming in this area.”

Dancehouse Artistic Director Angela Conquet, said: “I am particularly happy to see such a diverse selection of emerging and more senior artists who all have such unique interests and aesthetics. I’m looking forward to seeing the final works from this exciting group next March!”

The 2018 Keir Choreographic Award jury, responsible for selecting the eight finalists, is comprised of: Head of Dance, Performing Arts of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong, ANNA CY CHAN; local dance icon LUCY GUERIN; ISHMAEL HOUSTON-JONES, US choreographer, author, performer, and curator; Hungarian choreographer, dancer and performer ESZTER SALAMON; Artistic Director of international arts festival Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, CHRISTOPHE SLAGMUYLDER; and acclaimed Brussels-based American choreographer and dancer MEG STUART.

Jury member Lucy Guerin commented on the selection process: “Such a stimulating conversation with the KCA jury and the winners are an intriguing combination of artists with compelling and urgent ideas. I am truly excited about what they will make and how it will shape their own creative practice and that of their fellow dance-makers. This feels like the future. Can’t wait!’

The entry requirements for the Award call for professional artists with an established practice to enter by submitting a five-minute video pitch for a choreographic idea of 20 minutes in duration. The Keir Choreographic Award jury assesses the initial video applications and the eight short-listed works are provided with commissioning funds to realise their idea.

Each of the eight new works created for the 2018 Keir Choreographic Award will be presented at Dancehouse where the jury will then select four works to be presented at Carriageworks. The jury will deliberate for a second time having viewed the final works in a new space. The recipient of the 2018 Keir Choreographic Award will be announced along with the Audience Choice Award on the closing night of the Carriageworks season on 17 March 2018.

The Keir Choreographic Award was presented to Melbourne-based artist Atlanta Eke in 2014 and to Sydney-based Torres Strait Islander choreographer and performer, Ghenoa Gela, in 2016.


  • FINALS: CARRIAGEWORKS, SYDNEY, 15 – 17 March 2018


To request interviews and imagery relating to the Award please contact:

Julia Barnes,, 0402 678 589 or Kym Elphinstone, 0421 106 139.


Audrey Schmidt,, 03 9347 2860


Carriageworks presents a contemporary multi-arts program that engages artists and audiences with contemporary ideas and issues. The program is artist led and emerges from Carriageworks’ commitment to reflecting social and cultural diversity. The Carriageworks artistic program is ambitious, risk taking and unrelenting in its support of artists. Carriageworks is a cultural facility of the NSW Government and is supported by Create 



Dancehouse is the centre for independent dance in Melbourne. Through its programs of residencies, performance, training and research, Dancehouse is a space for developing challenging, invigorating, and socially engaged moving art. Dancehouse is also a hub of knowledge and resources, a presenter of outstanding programs targeting multiple communities and a fierce advocate for the vibrancy and literacy of the Australian independent dance sector.



Established by Phillip Keir and Sarah Benjamin the Foundation’s purpose is to foster innovation and excellence in the arts, particularly among new and emerging practitioners. The Keir Foundation has previously worked in commissioning dance projects and this choreographic award emerged from an on-going involvement with the dance community both nationally and internationally.



The Australia Council for the Arts is the Australian Government’s principal arts funding and advisory body. The Australia Council invests in artistic excellence through support for all facets of the creative process, and is committed to the arts being more accessible to all Australians.




Amrita Hepi is a dancer and choreographer. A Bundjulung and Ngapuhi woman, her practice probes at the idea of authenticity, the perpetuation of culture and tradition. An artist who has toured nationally and internationally with a broad following and reach, her work has taken various forms (film, performance, sculpture, text, lecture, participatory installation) but always begins from working with the body as a point of archive, memory and resistance.


Amrita trained at the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) dance college, New South Wales and Alvin Ailey American Dance School, New York.  She has exhibited and performed at Sydney Opera House, Next Wave Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Centre for Contemporary art, Carriageworks, TEDXSydney, Banff Centre Canada, Art Central Hong Kong, Art Basel Hong Kong, DARK MOFO Tasmania, Underbelly Arts Festival, and Sydney Contemporary among many others.


Melanie Lane is a Javanese/Australian choreographer and performer. Based in Europe from 2000–2014, Melanie worked with artists such as Arco Renz | Kobalt Works, Club Guy and Roni, and Tino Seghal performing internationally. Since 2007, Melanie has been artistic collaborator to Belgian dance company Kobalt Works | Arco Renz collaborating on projects in Belgium, Norway, Germany and Indonesia.

In 2015, Melanie was appointed resident director at Lucy Guerin Inc. Her choreographic work negotiates materiality, artificiality and the representation of the body. Melanie has established a repertory of works performing in international festivals and theatres such as Tanz im August, Uzes Danse Festival, Arts House Melbourne, Taipei Arts Festival, Spring Dance Festival, O Espaco do Tempo, Festival Antigel, Dance Massive and HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin among others. She has been artist in residence at Dock 11 Berlin, Tanzwerkstatt Berlin, Lucy Guerin Studios and Schauspielhaus Leipzig

Her collaborative work extends to artists such as musician Clark, choreographer Morgan Belenguer, and visual artists Martin Boettger, Ash Keating and Bridie Lunney. She performed in Lucy Guerin’s Split (2017) and joined Antony Hamilton Projects for his works – Drift (2011), Black Project 1(2012), Ruth (2015) and Number of the Machine (2017).

In 2014 Melanie was commissioned to create a new work Spacekraft at Schauspiel Leipzig. Melanie choreographed the 2014, 2015 and 2017 live show for UK electronic musician Clark, performing at Field Day London, Moma PS1 New York, Villette Sonique Paris and Barcelona/Istanbul Sonar Festivals. In 2016 Melanie was commissioned by Chunky Move to create a new work Re-make and premiered Wonderwomen – co-produced by LOFFT and HAU theatres in Germany. In 2017 Melanie is choreographic collaborator for the new video artwork Evanescence conceived by Amos Gebhardt and premiered her new work Nightdance at Arts House in August. Melanie has been a guest teacher for companies such as Carte Blanche Norway, Sasha Waltz and Guests, Chunky Move, Danish Dance Theatre, Skanes Dansteater, Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Nordwest/Tanzcompagnie Oldenburg among others.


Bhenji Ra is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice combines dance, choreography, video and installation. Her work is often concerned with the dissection of cultural theory and identity, centralizing her own personal histories as a tool to reframe performance. With an emphasis on occupation and at times collective action, her work plays with the multiplicities of spectacle while offering strategies to resist the colonial gaze and western performance framework. Collaboration is key to her work as she often accesses her own community as both a catalyst to generate theory and material as well as an essential critical voice. Her collaborative video series Ex Nilalang with artist Justin Shoulder, has been exhibited at the 8th Asia Pacific Trienalle at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, M+ Museum in Hong Kong and The Australian Centre of Moving Image in Melbourne. She recently performed her work NRG in collaboration with Angela Goh in Auto Italia’s group show Rogue Agents with the support of the Keir foundation. In 2016 she was awarded the danceweb scholarship in which she participated at the Impulstanz Festival in Vienna under the mentorship of Tino Sehgal. She is currently occupied with being the ‘mother’ of a young, western Sydney based vogue house named Slé whose work consists of hosting events and ‘balls’ for the intersections of community and performance.

NANA BILUŠ ABAFFY is an artist with a background in philosophy and a foreground in experimental performance and dance. Nana believes in a maximalist approach to the artistic endeavour and works through play, dance, text, moving image and social intervention to rouse the realm of the performative and herein create ‘werkplaydances’ for mixedup reality. She is the founding member of a secretive collective that performs in explicitly illicit spaces and enjoys engaging in Choreographic acts of extreme tree hugging and site specific protest dancing.

Nana’s work has been supported by the dance boards of the Australian Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Ian Potter Cultural Trust, CoPP Cultural Development Fund, FCAC Artist Residency, Bluestone Arts Space and Zagreb Dance Centre. In 2017, Nana is working on commissions from Underbelly Arts Festival and Lucy Guerin Inc. In 2016, Nana was supported to undertake workshops with choreographers Ivo Dimchev, Trajal Harrell and Mårten Spångberg, playwright Mark Ravenhill, and video artist Tacita Dean. In 2015, she was selected to participate in a director’s masterclass with Romeo Castellucci at the Venice Biennale of Theatre.

Nana holds a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy and is a published researcher. She has been invited to present her work at Oxford University and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is currently completing a Master of Arts in Performance Studies for which she has received an Australian Postgraduate Award. Nana is a Zagreb born, Melbourne based alien.

Luke George, raised in Tasmania and based in Melbourne, creates new choreographic work borne out of experimental processes with collaborating artists. George takes daring and at times, unorthodox methods, to explore new intimacies and connections between audience and performers. George’s work is based in a long-term research into ‘relational performance practice’ that is rooted in the choreographic, and engages with other art forms.

His works EROTIC DANCE (2016), BUNNY (2016), NOT ABOUT FACE (2013), NOW NOW NOW (2010), LIFESIZE (2008) have been performed extensively across Australia and internationally in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Bergen, Sandnes, Hammerfest, Groningen, Tokyo, Yokohama, Beppu, Singapore, Portland and New York City.

A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (B.A. 1999), George was recipient of Melbourne Fringe Awards (1999, 2013), Asialink Residency (2005), Russell Page Fellowship (2007), Greenroom Award for Best Male Dancer (2011), and commissions: Sydney Opera House (2006), The Keir Foundation (2008), Lucy Guerin Inc (2010), Phantom Limbs (2013), The Chocolate Factory Theatre (N.Y.C. 2014), Phillip Adams Balletlab (2015) and Campbelltown Arts Centre (2016). George’s artistic history ranges from socially engaged practices, to contemporary dance works, to collaborating across art forms. He was Co-Artistic Director of Stompin Youth Dance Company in regional Tasmania 2002-2008, creating site-specific works with hundreds of young people and community members – the same company through which he first encountered dance at the age of 15. George has collaborated and performed in numerous dance works by acclaimed Australian and international choreographers, and collaborated across disciplines of theatre, music, visual and live art.


Lilian Steiner is a Melbourne-based dancer and choreographer whose practice utilises the inherent intelligence of the active body as the primary tool for creating wholly encompassing visual, sonic and kinaesthetic experiences.  Her work embraces the power of ephemerality within energetic exchange through emphasising the presence of weight and density within the sculptural nature of sound, the body’s form and light as an extension of the body.

Lilian’s major choreographic projects include Admission into the Everyday Sublime (Next Wave Festival, 2016), BUNKER (Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2015), Noise Quartet Meditation (Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2014 and Dance Massive 2017), Meditation (Melbourne Now, NGV, 2014) and The Call to Connect – Voyager Recordings (Lucy Guerin Inc.’s Pieces for Small Spaces, 2012).  Noise Quartet Meditation received the 2015 Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation, as well as a nomination for the Shirley McKechnie Award for Choreography.  BUNKER received a Green Room nomination for Design in 2016.

As a dancer, Lilian has worked with Australian companies Lucy Guerin Inc. and Phillip Adams’ Balletlab across many projects as well as with independent choreographers Melanie Lane, Shelley Lasica, Brooke Stamp, visual artists Brook Andrew, Ash Keating, Mikala Dwyer and Alicia Frankovic, performance art group Public Movement and architect Matthew Bird (Studio Bird).  In 2017 Lilian received both the Helpmann Award and Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer, as well as nominations in 2013 and 2016.


Prue Lang joined Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre after studying at the VCA Melbourne. In 1996 she moved to France to join the Choreographic National Centre in Angers, Compagnie Cre-Ange in Paris, as well as creating and facilitating her own independent projects. In 1999 she began an important collaboration with William Forsythe as a leading soloist and choreographer of the Frankfurt Ballett and The Forsythe Company. She created five original works for the company, some of which also toured independently. She is also a leading exponent of Forsythe’s improvisation technologies and a researcher on the Motion Bank project.

Since 2005 she has been working as an independent choreographer presenting her work in international festivals, theatres and museums throughout the world including Theatre National de Chaillot Paris, HAU 3 Berlin, Tanzplatform Deutschland, Mousonturm Frankfurt, Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf, Context Festival Hebbel-am-ufer Berlin, Tanzperformance Koln, STUK Belgium, Festival faits d’hiver Paris, Rencontres choregraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, Mains d’oeuvres, Festival temps d’images Paris, Festival Mettre-en-scene Rennes, TATE Modern London, Adelaide International Arts festival, Dancehouse, Gertrude Gallery, Dance Massive Australia.

She has been voted Young Choreographer to Watch, Most Innovative Production, Most Outstanding Choreographer and most Outstanding Dancer by Europe’s Balletanz’s Annual Critics’ Survey, awarded in Hybrid Art by the Prix Ars Electronica, and won Green Room awards for Design, Original Choreography and Best Ensemble in Australia. Since 2014 she has been living and working in Melbourne, Australia.


BRANCH NEBULA (Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters) is one of Australia’s most adventurous companies pushing at the boundaries of performance. Working at the nexus between theatre, dance, sport and street-styles, Branch Nebula takes audiences into the extreme creativity of urban landscapes and immerses them in real time experiences.

Branch Nebula works with non-conventional performers to collaboratively devise work that defies categorization. They interrogate the audience experience and explore contemporary culture as a means of creating access and speaking to a broad audience. They work with street-style artists to create new visions for engaging with BMX, skating, parkour, tricking, and contemporary dance.

Recently Branch Nebula toured their work Snake Sessions around six skateparks in regional Australia, curated Swarm for Campbelltown Art Centre’s live art program, and developed Foodfight with artist Diego Bonetto for the MCA’s C3West. They toured a collaboration with Wade Marynowsky, The Robot Opera, to Taiwan. Other productions include Artwork, Whelping Box, and Concrete And Bone Sessions.