The National Gallery presents a new performance celebrating the architecture of Colin Madigan

NGA Rochelle Haley A Sun Dance 2023This February, the National Gallery of Australia premieres a new commission by artist Rochelle Haley – A Sun Dance – in an exclusive performance.

Performing the piece live in Canberra on Saturday 24 February, five dancers and a musician will bring this choreographic artwork to life across the National Gallery. The ensemble invites the audience to join them on their journey.

Commissioned by the National Gallery, A Sun Dance explores the interplay between the Gallery’s geometric architecture and the way sunlight enters the building over the course of the day.

The choreography reflects the sensation of sunlight on skin and moves in tandem with the sun’s arc from east to west across the Earth.

Haley developed the work in response to the archive of the Gallery’s architect, Colin Madigan, as well as her own observations of the architecture that she made during numerous site visits to the National Gallery.

Deirdre Cannon, Assistant Curator, Australian Art says that ‘Haley has realised an ambitious performance that uses the whole of the National Gallery as its stage. 

A Sun Dance reflects Haley’s unique approach to choreography, and how performance artworks can refract and change dynamically through time and space, like sunlight itself.’

“Audiences will discover the work in different ways as it cycles across and through the building throughout the day,” said Cannon. “It’s a new way of experiencing dance in a museum context. Visitors are welcome to come and see it in passing, or to spend longer with the work as it moves into different galleries, in and out of the path of the sun.”

Alongside the presentation of A Sun Dance, Haley will deliver an artist talk with National Gallery Archivist Simon Underschultz. In this talk, Haley will share her watercolour paintings created as part of the performance development process as well Madigan’s original papers and architectural designs which inspired her work.

Haley will also appear in a panel discussion exploring the choreographic process and approaches to conserving performance artworks with her choreographer collaborators, Angela Goh and Ivey Wawn, and Louise Lawson, Head of Conservation at Tate Museum, United Kingdom.

The original National Gallery building was designed by Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Partners.

Artist: Rochelle Haley | Choreographers: Angela Goh, Ivey Wawn | Dancers: Angela Goh, David Huggins, Lizzie Thomson, Niki Verrall, Ivey Wawn | Composer & Musician: Megan Alice Clune | Costume: Leah Giblin | Curators: Elspeth Pitt and Deirdre Cannon. Produced by Saskia Scott

A Sun Dance
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place East, Parkes (Canberra)
Performance: Saturday 24 February 2024
Free (with ticket)

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Rochelle Haley, A Sun Dance (work in development, November 2023). Commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra 2023. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body. With additional support from the Australian Research Council through research and commissioning partner Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum. Dancers pictured: Angela Goh and Ivey Wawn. Copyright: National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra – photo by Leanne Mason