On the Couch with Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan oncWho is Michelle Ryan?
Michelle is a 168cm tall woman when standing (she now uses a wheelchair), who grew up in Townsville, North Queensland with a sports loving mum, dad and three older brothers. She loves mirror balls, hates frogs and returned to performing after a 10-year hiatus when she realised that acquiring disability didn’t affect her creativity or passion.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
In this moment I am happy with the choices I have made. It took over 10 years to work out what I wanted to do, and now I am creating and performing as well as being the Artistic Director of Restless Dance Theatre. Life is pretty good!

Who inspires you and why?
The creative team of Intimacy. I love working with my talented friends, Ingrid Weisfelt and Vincent Crowley of Torque Show. We have a 20-year history which started back in the days of Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre.  We’ve shared many highs and lows, and everything in between. The trust and respect we have for each other allows us to create a space in which we can explore situations and themes that are uncomfortable and challenging, but with a giggle on the side.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would advocate for equality for all and for diversity to be embraced and celebrated.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Rome but it has been far too long. Around every corner there is beauty, history and the unexpected. People are passionate and the food is fabulous.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I now live in Adelaide so my favourite attraction is anywhere where you can watch the sun set over the water.

What are you currently reading?
There are two books of contrast. The Sex Life of Animals has been fascinating and the Eyewitness Guide to London, informative as we head to London’s Southbank Centre to premiere Intimacy in September.

What are you currently listening to?
The Audrey’s new album, Til My Tears Roll Away. Taasha Coates has a silky, smooth voice and she also has a lot of spunk. I’m looking forward to working with her for In the Balance for Restless Dance Theatre. If you haven’t seen the film clip for Baby Are You There featuring the Restless Dancers, you should. The dancers are suave and sexy!

Happiness is?
Knowing that you have acted with integrity and that you have done your best. Hopefully this has touched someone else’s life … and a crisp white wine is always a delight.

What does the future hold for you?
I don’t know but the element of surprise is both frightening and exhilarating.

Michelle Ryan is a filmmaker, choreographer, dancer, collaborator and administrator with over twenty years experience. Michelle has worked as a performer and assistant for Meryl Tankard at the Australian Dance Theatre and for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production The Beautiful Game. She has remounted works for Meryl on companies in Australia, Portugal and Sweden.

She was a founding member of Splinter Group and worked in the role of Associate Artist for the works Lawn, Road kill and Underneath. At Dance North Michelle worked in a variety of roles, winning the Townsville Arts Award for dance for services to Dance North in 2010.

Michelle created the dance film Nerve Ending, screening nationally and internationally throughout 2010 and 2011 as part of Reeldance, The Other Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival and Inshadow International Film Festival (Portugal). The film also won the WOW Film Festival Indie Flix competition and continues to tour as part of the WOW program.

In 2010 Michelle created Four Short Films About Juanita, which featured Juanita Hammer, an Indigenous woman with a disability. Michelle was the guest performer in the Brisbane season of Out of Context for Pina at the invitation of Alain Platel of Les Ballet C de la B. Michelle is currently the artistic director of Restless Dance Theatre.

Michelle will be appearing in Torque Show’s Intimacy as part of the Malthouse Theatre’s Helium initiative 13 – 23 August. For more information, visit: www.torqueshow.net.au for details.

Image: Michelle Ryan