Ghenoa Gela announced as recipient of the 2016 Keir Choreographic Award

Keir Choreographic Award Finalists photo by Daniel BoudThe Keir Foundation, Carriageworks and Dancehouse with the Australia Council have announced Sydney-based choreographer and performer from Torres Strait Islands, Ghenoa Gela as the recipient of the 2016 Keir Choreographic Award.

The award was announced following remarkable finals performances led by talented choreographers who are representative of a vibrant community who aim to expand the capacity of dance; the top four finalists Rebecca Jensen, Sarah Aiken, Ghenoa Gela and Martin Hansen, presented their commissioned works for the Keir Choreographic Award over three nights at Carriageworks to Sydney audiences.

Phillip Keir founder of the Keir Foundation awarded Ghenoa with the accolade and a $30,000 cash prize and to her overwhelming surprise a further $10,000 cash prize for the audience choice award. “It is fantastic to see new innovative works take to the stage,” said Mr Keir. “The inventiveness of all the works stands without question and points to the health of contemporary dance in Australia.”

Ghenoa’s work Fragments of Malungoka – Women of the Sea explores what her female ancestry means to her as a Mainland born Torres Strait Islander woman. By sharing her culture with an ensemble of non-­Torres Straight women, Ghenoa integrates traditional influences with contemporary movement and technology.

“I believe these awards are invaluable for the contemporary dance scene in Australia,” said Ghenoa. “The notion that eight new works have been commissioned and multiple artists have been employed through the award is very inspiring for the sector. I am overwhelmed by the support I have felt throughout this time and am proud that my work was considered as a possible reflection of the current dance  climate.”

“Big  Esso (Thank  you) to my parents, from who I learnt the process of sharing our culture. They led the way for me to be passionate about my Torres Strait identity; something I will be able to continue sharing as a recipient of this award.”

‘’Supporting artists and the making of new work is at the heart of the Carriageworks Artistic Program and we are delighted to support and nurture the next generation of choreographers,” said Lisa Havilah, Director Carriageworks. “Congratulations to all the commissioned artists and to the extraordinary Ghenoa Gela for her incredible work, a very worthy winner. ”

First presented in 2014, the Keir Choreographic Award (KCA) is a national biennial award dedicated to commissioning new Australian choreographic short works and promoting innovative, experimental and cross-artform practices in contemporary dance across Australia and internationally.

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Image: Sarah Aiken, Ghenoa Gela, Rebecca Jensen and Martin Hansen – photo by Daniel Boud