On the Couch with Cheryl Stock AM

Cheryl Stock AM Arts Review On the CouchWho is Cheryl Stock AM?
I am a choreographer, director, educator, researcher and advocate for the arts. My current position is Director of Graduate Studies and Head of Cultural Leadership at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where among other things I head up the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Cultural Leadership course.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would carve out more creative time to dream and explore.

Who inspires you and why?
On a personal level, my father for his great gift of unconditional love, and for teaching me the value of integrity, generosity and a sense of humour. As a leader, Barack Obama for his civility, extraordinary intelligence, his gifts as an orator, his compassion, empathy, ethical stance, the ability to see and clearly articulate complex issues from multiple perspectives, to negotiate with all parties, and for inspiring people to hope and unite.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would try to facilitate conversations and creative works that break down the binaries of our current divisive world and encourage people to ‘look through other eyes’ culturally, in religion and beyond gender stereotypes. Professionally, in my position as Head of Cultural Leadership at NIDA, I will continue to support my fantastic MFA students to keep courageously delving into the difficult issues that will ultimately transform our culture in a positive way. They are the future cultural leaders of this country.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I have many as I am totally addicted to travel, having toured all my life to wonderful places in Australia and beyond: Paris, for its culture and because I feel so energised there; Hanoi for the friendships I have forged over three decades and for its extraordinary history and people; Hawaii as the place I can totally chill.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Blue Mountains for its spectacular scenery, clean air, extraordinary immersive walking tracks, great places to stay, and charming little towns with welcoming cafes of homemade goodies and antique shops.

What are you currently reading?
I am revisiting The Waves by Virginia Woolf for its poetic style and evocative storytelling. In contrast, I am also dipping in and out of Paul Keating: the big picture leader by Troy Bramston – an incisive and detailed portrayal of one of my heroes as well as colourfully depicting a seminal time in Australia’s political history.

What are you currently listening to?
I am quite eclectic in my musical tastes so blues and jazz, contemporary classical and retro pop music… Lately I have been tuning into sounds of the city or the bush that surround me on my daily walks – especially the bird songs.

Happiness is?
The little ‘ordinary’ things that provide pleasure and distraction from a violent world: walking by the water and taking in the natural beauty of our land, seeing films, shows or exhibitions and sharing special experiences with my long term partner and soul mate; eating and laughing with family and friends; feeling truly alive.

What does the future hold for you?
Nobody knows. I tend to worry about the future so I am trying to live more in the moment.

Cheryl and her team are now taking applications for NIDA’s 2018 MFA Cultural Leadership course. The final application date is 30 September 2017. For more information or to apply, visit: www.apply.nida.edu.au for details.

Image: Cheryl Stock AM