Multicultural arts advocacy for NSW

Sydney Opera House has kindly offered our grass-roots arts organisation, Groundswell Arts NSW the beautiful Utzon Room to launch in on Feb 13 in two weeks!  It’s been 4 1/2 years of voluntary work, not only for me as founder and Chair but also the fantastic committee that have been working together on building strength within our arts sector in NSW and raising awareness for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The launch is free to anyone who wants to attend and Jill Morgan, Multicultural Arts Victoria and Pino Migliorino, Cultural Perspectives will be speaking as well as Jonathan Bielski giving a welcome speech on behalf of the Sydney Opera House. I truly can’t wait for this inaugural day and it will be emotional experience for all of us at Groundswell.


Design by Scott Burns and Jasmine Parer 2014




CPAN Interview with Annalouise Paul


Today we meet professional choreographer and actor, Annalouise Paul.

How did you start your performing career?

At nineteen I decided to become a dancer and started training in Sydney taking classes in beginners ballet, contemporary and Flamenco to develop my technique.

How long have you been performing? 

I completed my formal training at twenty three at the Laban Centre for Dance and Movement in London and have been performing as a dancer and actor ever since.

How is independent dance different from the commercial world? Would you recommend dancers or performers to try both?

Vastly different! They differ greatly in the type of work they require and provide. For example Independent artists are working with their own concepts and ideas that they are passionate about, often regardless of the pay involved. Commercial work still involves passion for performing but as an artist it involves more of an interpretive role as rather than a creative or collaborative contribution. In saying this, it doesn’t make you less of an artist and I would encourage anyone to explore both worlds! I strongly believe that as performers the key is not to limit yourself and definitely try a bit of both.

Who have you worked with and what impact have they left on you? 

I’ve worked with artists such as Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Placido Domingo, and choreographers like Bill T. Jones and the common link with all of these artists and major stars is that they work the hardest and in any occasion I had to work with them, they were the most gracious in terms of appreciating the work that I contributed

How did you get to where you are now today? 

I started my training in Sydney then moved to continue in London where I worked in a mixture of independent and commercial projects. In London, as an emerging artist, I had the opportunity to work in various operas and develop contemporary dance choreographies with the support of arts councils. After that I moved to Los Angeles to study acting and continue to work commercially as a dancer and choreographer. Eventually I started to land small roles in shows like Days of Our Lives,feature film I’ll Do Anything and various commercials. After spending 12 years on the road, traveling to various countries and working abroad, I decided to return to Sydney and bring my choreography here. An injury in 2002 led to a break from dancing, after which I was introduced to FORM (formerly known as Western Sydney Dance Action).

My accumulation of experiences from Sydney, London and LA, drew in me a desire to fuse everything together and so I started focus on the creation of new dance works that included live music and narrative and propelled me to develop my own company, Theatre of Rhythm and Dance. Just recently I returned from Spain where I did professional development and also attended the International World Dance Alliance Conference in Kuala Lumpur, where this year’s subject was Dance Hybridity; a concept that is very relevant because of the current political climate surrounding Multiculturalism.

What advice would you give to cultural performers starting out in Western Sydney? 

Approach councils and different organisations like FORM and CPAN so that you know what opportunities are out there, and how and when they are available. Always do your research to find work and opportunities to collaborate with others or develop your own work. Approach and be involved with advocacy groups like Groundswell so that you know what the bigger picture is and what contribution you can make to it. Generally though, the best advice that I can give to performers is when you start to build your networks, see them as relationships, not just people who can give you a job.

Annalouise is an actor and choreographer. She began dancing at 19 years old in contemporary and flamenco dance and soon after moved to London staying for five years before moving to Los Angeles to study film acting and pursue work for a further seven years before settling home in Sydney where she now resides. During her time overseas she worked on A-list feature films, music videos, television, commercials and opera and worked with artists, directors and choreographers such as Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Placido Domingo, James Cameron and Bill T. Jones. As an actor Annalouise has embodied a multitude of cultural ethnicities, characters and accents and her love for storytelling lies at the heart of her own arts funded works, practise, research  and the formation of her company Theatre of Rhythm and Dance and Flamenco Red. Annalouise has a long history of working in arts education schools and in tertiary education and on projects with grass roots communities exploring richly diverse cultural content that can be offered in the creation of uniquely Australian works. Her recent initiative Groundswell Creative Thinkers Creative Solutions aims to consult and work with Government in the formation of a peak advocacy body for NSW and multicultural arts policy for development of cultural diversity across Australian arts and media.

To find out more about Annalouise Paul visit her website and to find our more about Groundswell look at


OCTOBER 12, 2010             DanceNSW is the Ausdance NSW magazine.

‘Sevillanas’ Artist In Schools Residency – Ausdance NSW

It’s interesting doing education projects, I always find by the end I am the one who has received the ‘education’ and every time I begin my personal mantra is it has to be as creatively rich and rewarding as any other project.

Currently, I am working at a high school in Wetherill Park, which is Fairfield area of Western Sydney. Prairiewood High School has a demographic of 90% Assyrian, Samoan, Arabic, Vietnamese and Indigenous students and I am always looking for ways for young dancers to incorporate their own cultural ancestries into dance. I hope that sharing my processes and approach might open them up to new exploration, rather than just aspire to mimic the more visible dance that’s out there and my own agenda being that intercultural dance might become part of our mainstream dance landscape one day.

They’re all into ‘So you think you can dance?’ and krumping which I also love, so I used these to discuss social dance and taught a Spanish folk dance called ‘Sevillanas’. They adapted basic elements of ‘Sevi’ into contemporary dance vocabulary and worked on themes about ‘old vs new’ in society and that both have a place. There are protocols around using flamenco culture so I stick to the elements of the dance that have least potential to be misappropriated. It is totally about sharing culture not withholding it, so I am glad to have the opportunity to pass this on.

The project for this came about quite organically. I met the Dance teacher and we clicked. She has only developed a dance department in the past year or two and because it’s so new, this was a way for Dance gain status in the school community and to be taken seriously as a subject. The project has become quite large now, we possibly under-estimated the size of it, and some critical meetings with the school did not happen at the outset, so a lot of pre-planning was not done which has created some hefty challenges and a hefty learning curve for all.

The program is Creative Education Partnerships: Artist in Schools program and has partners NSW Department of Education and Training, Arts NSW, Australia Council for the Arts. It is a great idea that has come out of years of pilot programs and research and is really about the learning that happens for kids more than the artists work. Having said that I am excited to be working on it, as I have been able to build a sketch for a longer work. I will be lecturing at Macquarie University this term and will continue to work the ideas and choreography with those dancers too.

Two years ago I presented ‘Conversations in Rhythm and Dance’ a season of two new works using contemporary dance, flamenco dance, live guitar, classical Indian tabla and traditional and junk percussion. CRD was supported by Australia Council and Arts NSW. The works, ‘Isabel’ and  ‘Game on’ were presented at Riverside Theatres Parramatta and Campbelltown Arts Centre.


Game on’ has since been selected for schools touring through ConnectEd in 2011. It is a battle of wits between a contemporary dancer and a traditional musician. There is strong rapport between the artists (Miranda Wheen and Bobby Singh) and a respect for diversity and difference are at the heart of their onstage banter. It has many moments of spectacular musicianship and dancing so that no matter what these young audiences take away, hopefully, it might offer an exciting introduction to dance and live music in general.

There have been interesting changes on the Sydney dance front in the past few years. It seems like less presentation platforms for intercultural dance than ever, a label I would love to see disappear but the education sector is providing some fantastic opportunities right now so I am thrilled to be part of it.

I might just finish with a little plug for a forum I am chair of in a few weeks time?

Groundswell: Creative Thinkers Creative Solutions is an inclusive artist-driven forum that aims to find new solutions to old problems for professional artists working in multicultural arts.

We are interested to find ways to move into mainstream arts, eliminating terms of otherness and segregation like ‘multicultural’ and use this as a collective think tank on topics such as presentation, showcasing, advocacy, arts management, funding, custodianship and sustainability.

We are very keen for anyone to come along that wants to brainstorm ideas or to simply understand more about what this genre is.

More details can be found at Groundswell Blog or Facebook

Groundswell: Creative Thinkers Creative Solutions


Key speakers: Lyndon Terracini, Artistic Director, Opera Australia and Jill Morgan, Executive Officer, Multicultural Arts Victoria
Chair: Annalouise Paul
Moderators: Joanna Dinning and Paula McLaughlin

When: October 14
Time: 11- 2pm
Where: The Opera Centre, 480 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010