How would you describe what you do?
I’m so many different things! I’m an artist who encompasses being a choreographer, a dancer, a tutor and a jewellery maker.
What was your most recent project?
We did a show for the Lyttelton Arts Festival which was amazing. Good houses, great response and a fantastic festival all round. At the moment I’m working on a show called ‘Requiem’ with Simon van der Sluijs.
What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?
I couldn’t narrow it down. There have been so many and they’re all so different. I’ve done shows with Jolt, working with dancers with disabilities and that’s been so rewarding. I’ve worked with under-priviledged kids, which has also been so rewarding and on the flip side I get to work with professional dancers, which is also amazing. I couldn’t say that one work is better than another, they’re all so different. I can’t even compare shows.
What is essential for creatives to have in their life?
Support. I’ve been able to sustain a career because I have an incredibly supportive husband. Everything I do now, I act out of kindness because I truly know that I can only do what I do because of the support of the people around me.
What inspires you about Ōtautahi?
My roots are here. My family are here. I really like it as a city and when I came back in 1992 from training in Auckland, I was a big fish in a small pond and I had lots of opportunities straight away and that included training dancers who have go on to become professional dancers. So, I am very loyal to Christchurch and I’m loyal to those dancers who have gone away and come back. It feels like we have a supportive contemporary dance community here.
What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?
I had a mentor do a plan with me at a point where I felt I was overwhelmed with both the amount and diversity of work I was doing. One thing she said that really resonated was to see that diversity and amount of work as a strength- because I was connecting with so many people. But she basically told me to prioritise the jobs that were bringing in income, and the jobs that were passion projects and edit the rest.
Now I know that when I take a job, I’m doing it either because it’s paying really well or I love it. It’s too easy to say yes when you’re starting out, and that advice allowed me to say no and know that that was okay.
What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?
I think the biggest misconception around dance itself, is around body type and when I was young that was an issue for me. But now because I’m working with older dancers and I am older myself, I’m way more about the life experience people bring to the stage. I’m about artistry rather than athleticism.
The other thing I think people don’t always realise is the amount of work that goes into creating a show. The thousands of hours that go into it at night time, at home, that aren’t even in the studio. What the audience sees is the result of massive amounts of work. I don’t like it when people compare shows that have tens of thousands of dollars behind them with shows that are put together with maybe a few thousand dollars, if they’re lucky, that feels unfair.
What Christchurch artists do you most admire?
There are so many! I have heaps of respect for all my dance colleagues. Artists that I have worked with like Simon van der Sluijs and Robyn Webster. I’m working with Nicole Reddington at the moment on cello. I have to mention Sheryl Robinson, who passed away in 2010. She was a dancer and choreographer and we both arrived back in Christchurch in 1992 and met backstage at the Theatre Royal one night and formed this relationship – even though we had our own companies. She’s very missed.
What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?
The first time that happened for me would be a toss up between a Douglas Wright work and Michael Parmenter’s Jerusalem.
What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?
That it was going to totally consume me and wouldn’t leave room for other stuff.
At one point in my early 20’s I thought I’d better train and get something else under my belt – but I never had time to get a second career!
What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?
There are a few different things and they’re all in Lyttelton and that’s as much as I’m giving away!