On the Couch with Shona McCullagh

Founding Artistic Director Shona McCullagh. © John McDermott

Who is Shona McCullagh?
The Director of The New Zealand Dance Company, filmmaker, NZ Arts Laureate, NZ’s Creative Entrepreneur of the Year.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would play tennis more, grow asparagus successfully and make more chutney. And visit the Maldives more. You can tell I need a holiday…

Who inspires you and why?
My kids. Their thirst for life, open eyes and hunger for the new excites me. Also, the company dancers. Their commitment, passion and daily flight path makes my day, every day.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
If I could… I would persuade every nation in the world to stop in their tracks for a week and sort out what we are doing to this planet. We need to concentrate globally. Sadly this is an impossible dream.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Leigh by the Sea – an hour north of Auckland. It has old school charm, astonishing simplicity and bountiful beauty. And really big ice creams from the Leigh General Store.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
The above to allow them to breathe deeply and notice the stars.

What are you currently reading?
For Love and Courage – Letters home from the Western Front 1914 – 17 by Lieutenant Colonel E.W. Hermon. Very beautiful and very sad.

What are you currently listening to?
The sound of my fingers typing. It’s quite gentle and soothing if you tap really lightly. And if I turn Spotify back on, Curtis Mayfield’s Don’t Worry. This is encouraging when I have a mountain of work to do…

Happiness is?
Autumn. Let’s face it, it’s magical.

What does the future hold for you?
Possibly directing a feature film if I have time. Creating the choreography for Auckland Theatre Company’s Lysistrata. Creating more opportunities for beautiful dancers and choreographers. Would love to do a trans-Tasman season. Get in touch!

One of New Zealand’s outstanding cross platform artists and the co-founder of The New Zealand Dance Company, Shona McCullagh (MNZM, NZ Arts Laureate) is an innovative choreographer for dance, theatre and film and also a director, dance filmmaker, teacher and interactive installation artist.

As a choreographer over the last 26 years she has created works ranging from short pieces to full length works, often working with NZ composers for companies such as Limbs, Footnote, Douglas Wright Dance Company, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Southern Lights, tertiary institutes and her own company The Human Garden, which was established in 1992 and continued until 2007.

Awards include Metro Magazine’s Best Dancer (1988) North & South magazine’s feature on “100 New Zealanders Who Made A Difference” (1999) and in 2000, she became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to dance and in 2007 became an Arts Laureate.

In 2008 Shona was invited to be part of the inaugural Art Venture Acceleration Programme for Creative Entrepreneurs, an initiative of the Arts Regional Trust that resulted in her decision to assist the growth of the NZ dance industry by establishing The New Zealand Dance Company.

Shona is the creator of The New Zealand Dance Company’s production of Rotunda, currently touring Australia to the following venues: Arts Centre Melbourne (7 – 9 May), Riverside Theatre, Parramatta (13 – 16 May) and Geelong Performing Arts Centre (21 – 23 May). For more information, visit: www.nzdc.org.au for details.

Image: Shona McCullagh – photo by  John McDermott