KCA Development Diary: Riana Head-Touissant

In 2020, the eight commissioned artists of the Keir Choreographic Award share their Development Diaries with us. Works will be developed all over Australia, with the four finalists performing at Carriageworks in the finale season, 12-14 March.

In this diary we follow Sydney-based artist Riana Head-Touissant.


3 Mar 2020

Riana Head-Toussaint presents her work ‘Very Excellent Disabled Dancing’ in Melbourne at Dancehouse for the 2020 Keir Choreographic Award Semi Final.

24 Feb 2020

Riana shares the details of her work for KCA 2020, Very Excellent Disabled Dancing.

In Very Excellent Disabled Dancing, three visibly disabled dancers expose the distinct, persistent differences in the way dance is consumed and understood when performed by people with disability. The work involves a synergy of movement and video. The dancers physically demonstrate the effects of the external, objectifying gaze, amplified by capturing and projecting their movement via live video feed.This is then contrasted against movement from a place of knowledge and resistance — magnified by intimate, pre-recorded footage. The dancers lay bare anatomical preoccupations, saccharine sympathy and uninformed hostility — confronting and defiantly reframing the dominant gaze to make way for genuine engagement with, understanding of, and appreciation for diversity in dance.


28 January 2020

This work involves three performers who have very distinctive movement languages; deeply-rooted and honed over many years. The process of discovering the points of intersection, connection and divergence between these languages has been hugely exciting and rich. It is rewarding on a choreographic level, but also on a human level; as it concerns how we see and relate to others.

On a conceptual level, some of questions being explored are:
What somatic assumptions do we (as a society) hold about the ‘Dancer’?
What do we expect their body to look like, and how do we expect it to move?
When we see a form that doesn’t conform to these expectations, how does that influence our reception of the choreography?
What happens when those expectations are challenged and stripped away – what do you see when your gaze is no longer unknowingly encumbered?


9 December 2020

Riana shares photos from the early development of her work at Carriageworks.


Riana Head-Toussaint is a multidisciplinary artist with disability, who uses a manual wheelchair for mobility. Her practice spans a variety of areas; including dance, theatre, acrobatics and film and often involves interrogating dominant systems, structures and ways of thinking. Her solo and ensemble work has been presented at ATYP, WOW Festival, and Shopfront Arts Co-Op. As well as being an artist, Riana is a qualified lawyer, access consultant and disability activist.

See images of Riana’s previous works here.