In July 2023, Carriageworks hosts LGI First Nations Resident Rachael Wallis. The First Nations Residency supports Rachael with a fee, production support, and four weeks of dedicated studio time at Carriageworks and LGI’s home in North Melbourne, WXYZ Studios.

The program was created in 2021 through a multi-year partnership between BlakDance, the national industry and producing organisation for First Nations 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 joined the partnership in 2022 to further support the program and expand its reach. The partnership 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.

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.

Gapu Ngupan (Chasing the Rainbow) is a powerful and joyous new cross-cultural performance piece in music, song and dance, being created by a group of First Nations artists from Arnhem Land and Taiwan with ancient ancestral connections. At its heart are Yolngu stories about how other nations journeyed to and interacted with Yolngu people millenia before the recent European voyages. It speaks to Australia’s true and rich history, and celebrates our place in the world. Gapu Ngupan is created and produced by Miku Performing Arts (Rachael Wallis, Artistic Director), Hui Jia Creatives, Kath Papas Productions & Artback NT, and will premiere and tour in 2024-25. Rachael Wallis is a co-director, choreographer and performer in Gapu Ngupan, and Piya Talaliman (Paiwan tribe) is a choreographer and performer.

This project is part of the Carriageworks in Development Program.

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.

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