Marilyn Miller; FOUNDER
From Kuku Yalanji and Wanji heritage Marilyn was Australia’s National Indigenous Dance Coordinator of the national strategy Treading The Pathways 2007 - 2009, which then became BlakDance Australia Ltd, of which she became the inaugural CEO 2010 – 2011, and Founder.
Marilyn has worked in a variety of capacities since being sole female co-founder, Dancer/Choreographer of Australia's first Indigenous mainstream Company, Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre – the Company, ranging from Actor, Dancer, Dance teacher, Choreographer, Artistic Director, Arts Administrator, and Facilitator. She has choreographed for Dance, Theatre, and Television, had a video installation of Contemporary Indigenous Welcome Dances residing in the First Peoples Gallery, Australian National Museum, and along with the rest of her family has been honoured in the Queensland Museum – Dandiiri Maiwar exhibition.
Marilyn has been Chair of the NSW Ministry for the Arts Dance committee, as well as peer assessor for Arts Queensland, Australia Council – Dance, and Brisbane City Council. She was Artistic Director and curatorial panel member for the Festival of Pacific Arts 2012 – Australian Delegation. In 2012 Marilyn was appointed co-Deputy Chair of Ausdance National, and in 2013 Marilyn became Festival Director for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Marilyn was Programme Manager for Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2014 and then became Artistic Associate for Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2015. In 2017 Marilyn facilitated three Indigenous Dance Forums with BlakDance, Arts Queensland and Indigenous Ballet Dancers in Cairns and is the Ausdance Co-Vice President. Marilyn has a degree in Business and Management and trained with Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre in her formative years. Marilyn is currently working with EnVizion in Cairns as a Youth Mentor.
Michael grew up in Moree, NSW and has since led a great career in the Performing Arts. In 1997 the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland, engaged Michael Leslie to establish Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts. Michael has since enjoyed a career as one of Australia's most internationally lauded dancers, choreographers and theatre professionals and even as a highly sought-after government consultant for the arts. His career has seen him live and work with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York, choreograph Bran Nue Dae and establish the Michael Leslie Foundation to mentor Western Australian indigenous youth. He also won the Red Ochre Award that honours outstanding, lifetime contributions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, presented at the National Indigenous Arts Awards in 2010. Michael’s latest work highlights the indigenous incarceration rates in Australia and debuted as a double-bill performance presented by Ochre Dance Company in Western Australia.
Monica Stevens is mBabarum. She is a Bama woman of Kuku Yalanji and Yidjini ancestry from Far North Queensland, born on Yidjini Country in Far North Queensland. She moved to Sydney after graduating with her HSC from Innisfail State High School to pursue a career in dance. She is a 1984 National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association, NAISDA graduate. Monica performed as a professional contemporary dancer for 12 years: first with the original Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre (AIDT), and is a founding member of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, where she toured and educated people about Aboriginal Australian people through performances and classes in national and international arenas.
Monica has been a member of the Australia Council ATSIA Board and continues to explore her choreographic and artistic roles in the industry, including Chair of BlakDance Board 2014 - 2017. Her passion for dance and technology started in 2007 and partnered with Deakin University MotionLab to produce Coding Indigenous Dance in 2008 and the 2012 Dance Research Forum.
Monica continues to contribute her expertise, knowledge and experiences to design, produce and stimulate provocative and intelligent dance theatre. Recent highlights are Threads (2018), the NAISDA alumni 40th Anniversary performance Chjowai (2016), Birrang Creative Workshop (2016), Campbelltown Arts Centre on Walking Ways and The Ink is Black and the Page is White (2014, 2015).
Nancy is Founder and Director of Black Drum Productions, an Indigenous-owned and operated consultancy that has been operating in Queensland since 2000, focusing on celebrating the diversity of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures through the presentation of traditional and contemporary art forms.
She has been instrumental in the arts industry development in Queensland and is committed to promoting and empowering Indigenous artists, enabling them to access opportunities that will lead to their financial stability. Nancy has programmed Indigenous content for major events such as the G20 Summit, the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour, the Australian Performing Arts Market, Clancestry Festival at QPAC and Brisbane City Council’s Gathering in the Queen Street Mall and Black History Month.
Nancy was previously Manager of Queensland Aboriginal Creations for over a decade, gaining unique insights and developing lasting networks with Indigenous people throughout Queensland. In recognition of her support for Indigenous Arts, Nancy received an International Womens’ Day Award in 2011 and was nominated for Australian of the Year 2013.
Nancy has links with Thabu/Samu Clan from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait Islands and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Indigenous Community Management and Development from the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University Perth, Western Australia.
Colleen is the daughter of Herb and Alfa Geiszler (nee Beezley), granddaughter of Bert and Mary Beezley (nee Minniecon). She is a senior Dauwa Kabi Women from the Mary River tributaries of Munna and Wide Bay Creeks.
As a Dauwa Kabi Grandmother she has the responsibility to pass on Grandmother’s Camp Law and Aboriginal Land Law practices and has a serious commitment to teaching the Dauwa-Kabi practice of Child Rearing. This process raises Respectful, Responsible and Resilient Children that know their place and their responsibilities to Country, Clan and Families. This important work influences everything she does. Currently she is developing programs to insure that our children In Out-of-Home Care have every benefit to grow up with the knowledge of our traditional practices. It influences her art work which she uses to pass on our most vital Law Stories to the next generation of children as well as people who work with those children. Her work is within the collections of the Mater Hospital South Bank and Caloundra University Hospital.
Colleen is knowledgeable in Aboriginal Land Law and cultural balance in healing through Ancestors and is involved within Queensland and national Native Title sector. She is currently Chairperson of Queensland South Native Title Services Limited (QSNTS).
Colleen is a former Member of Family Law Council of Australia where she presented an Aboriginal Child Rearing Practice paper. She is currently Cultural Advisor to Brisbane Powerhouse and has worked in the past to deliver cultural programs like Black History Month for Brisbane City Council and Clancestry Festival for Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Colleen has recently written a series of Aboriginal Grandmother’s Law programs for Children in Care called Learning to Live with Country. She has recently developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Policy for Brisbane Powerhouse.
Lily Shearer is a proud citizen of the Murrwarri Republic & Ngemba Nation (North-West NSW/South-East QLD) woman with 30+ years experience in First Peoples Cultural Development, Arts Management and in Theatre and performance making. Founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, Lily is also a graduate of Western Sydney University and has been instrumental in the development of and creative support for First Peoples community arts and forging links between First Peoples and not-First Peoples companies such as Performance Space, Urban Theatre Projects, Pact Youth Theatre, Carriageworks, Shopfront Theatre for Young People, Legs on the Wall and Powerhouse Youth Theatre.
Lily has worked in leadership roles on a remarkable number of projects, and in 2016 was the recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts prestigious Ros Bower Award, and in 2012 was one of six recipients of the British Council’s Accelerate Indigenous Creative Leaders program.
Currently Lily is a freelance-performing artist, cultural collaborator, consultant, educator, and member of Moogahlin Artistic Directorate.