Rachael Wallis is a versatile dancer and choreographer based in Nhulunbuy, NT. Covering both traditional and contemporary dance styles she has worked with leading Indigenous dance companies and choreographers, performing regionally, nationally and internationally. She’s performed at Olympics ceremonies, the Queens Diamond Jubilee and has directed/choreographed many community based dance projects and festivals. She has taught at NAISDA Dance College and delivered remote, regional and interstate initiatives, workshops and classes. Rachael’s current credentials include: Director, Moonfish Productions, Principal Dance Teacher, Arafura Dance and Artistic Director, Rachael Wallis’ Aboriginal Dance Company.
Living in a small community of north-east Arnhem Land, where Yolŋu history is passed down through story, song and dance as way of life, Rachael knows the importance of dance for culture and community.
Dance includes all peoples. It brings joy and hope and benefits everyone. Dance is in my blood I’ve been dancing since I could walk. This exchange opportunity allows me to share my skills and knowledge with other First Nations Peoples and learn their stories and crafts to share with my family and community.
In June – July 2018, Rachael journeyed to Rinari in Southern Taiwan for a six-week residency as part of our partnership with the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Centre in Taiwan. Experiencing the exceptional hospitality of the local arts community, Rachael attended many arts events, gatherings and celebrations.
Rachael collaborated with many local Indigenous artists – including Paiwan singer Sang Mei-Chuan, Truku Musician Labaka Taru and Paiwan dancer Dresdres Kazangiljan. During her time in Taiwan she completed three major performances, including at the Australian Office in Taipei and at the Naluwan Theatre at the Indigenous Peoples Culture Park. Rachael’s final presentation was performed with Labaka Taru and Dresdres Kazangiljan and was a powerful fusion of Yolŋu dance, Paiwan song and dance and traditional Truku music.
This residency has made me think about letting go, creating movement and allowing things come… The experience of having to put together my final performance in such a short time really proved to me that there is another force, there is something else that carries you when you dance traditionally.
During her residency, Rachael also visited schools in Rinari, sharing Yolŋu dance and ochre painting up practices. Since her return, Rachael has begun teaching her students and family the dances she was taught in Taiwan. She also plans to share this experience with other artists in her region by running workshops in communities locally and outreach programs in homelands, working towards performances at Yirrkala, Garma and/or local festivals and events.
Read Rachael’s reflections on her residency in Behind the Scenes.
The Taiwan-Australia Indigenous Artist in Residence program is a collaboration between Artback NT and the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Centre Taiwan, generously supported by the Northern Territory Government, Taiwan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Australian Office in Taipei. The program presents a unique opportunity for cultural exchange between First Nations artists.