biography 4: shona mccullagh
A Distinguished Graduate from the New Zealand School of Dance, Shona was a dancer with Sydney based company Darc Swan in 1984, subsequently joining Limbs Dance Company, where she was a dancer, rehearsal director and choreographer from 1985 to 1988. In 1987, Shona performed with Douglas Wright & Dancers in New York, was a founding member of the NZ based Douglas Wright Dance Company and became its Associate Director in 1991, touring to the London Dance Umbrella and the Holland Dance Festival.
As a choreographer over the last 35 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.
Shona has a long history of collaboration with other art forms, creating extensive work for theatre, television and film, including sequences for Fellowship of the Ring and King Kong. Her work for theatre has seen her creating choreography for Nightsong Productions, The Watershed Theatre, the NZ Actors Company and Auckland Theatre Company’s Equus, Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Chicago and Lysistrata. Her work Rotunda for NZDC resulted in a tour to the Holland Dance Festival and a nine centre Australasian tour of the work, performing with live brass bands including a first ever collaboration between the military forces and contemporary dance with the NZ Army Band touring with the Company.
Shona has developed an international reputation as an award-winning and innovative filmmaker with all of her films being screened at the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival in France. She established the Screendance course at UNITEC’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts and as a recipient of CNZ’s 2004 Senior Choreographic Fellowship, Shona developed works integrating real-time interactive technology with live performance, resulting in a full-length work and a series of installations for Era New Horizons Festival in Poland, the Nelson Arts Festival, Splore and Taupo’s Erupt festival.
As founder and director of The Human Agency, Shona has conceptualised and directed many major events involving dance as a central feature such as the Steinlager Rugby Awards, the Harcourts Annual Conference and as Head Choreographer for the globally broadcast 2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony. She has also encouraged the careers and livelihoods of hundreds of artists through sourcing work for them via the agency.
In 2007 Shona was an inaugural participant of the ART Venture Acceleration Programme for Creative Entrepreneurs, an initiative of the Arts Regional Trust. Attending this programme resulted in her decision to assist the growth of the NZ dance industry by establishing The New Zealand Dance Company in 2011. Currently, Shona is Artistic Director of the Auckland Festival.
biography 3: jamie bull
Jamie Bull has had over 40 years performance and training experience. She is an experienced choreographer, director, group facilitator, therapist, performance and creativity motivator, arts manager and mentor, and she has worked in education, in health, and in commercial and non-commercial theatre and performance. Former Founding Director of Impulse Dance Theatre, Jamie has choreographed for most Professional Dance Companies in New Zealand in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, as well as her own Company. She has maintained an active involvement in theatre –including choreographing and directing.
In theatre Jamie has worked on projects within many of the main Professional theatres/ companies including Downstage, Bats, Circa, the Court Theatre, and Centrepoint. In community theatre she has presented many professional performances with untrained performers, including the full length works Back Beach Time, and Blanket Coverage which were recreated in many communities throughout New Zealand.
Jamie has long been an advocate for access to artistic practice and creativity for all members of our community and has contributed in this field for all of her professional life. She is noted for her Bi Cultural commitment and understanding. Until her recent retirement, the main thread of her recent professional portfolio, was in putting her experience and expertise into mentoring in the arts, and supporting a select group of performing artists.
(N.B. Jamie Bull has already been interviewed about her involvement with Impulse Dance Theatre as part of the NDA’s Oral History project in 2009 Riding the Crest of a Wave. The interview for this project is intended to cover her life both more broadly as well as her work since her involvement with Impulse Dance Theatre.)
biography 2: jenny stevenson
Jenny Stevenson started her ballet training in England at the age of 8 years, when she attended the Legat School of Ballet, a boarding school where Russian ballet in the style of Nicholas Legat was taught and interspersed with school work. On arriving in New Zealand at the age of 11 Jenny began training at the Nettleton Edwards School of Dance where she remained until joining the New Zealand Ballet Company in 1967 for a short contract. Jenny then was accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance and was amongst the first group of graduates. After another season with the NZ Ballet she returned to Auckland where she danced as a Happen Inn dancer for television.
Wishing to pursue an interest in modern dance, Jenny moved to Australia in 1969 where she trained and completed a tour with the Australian Dance Theatre. On her return to New Zealand to marry, she moved to Wellington with her husband Jim Stevenson and in 1974 founded the Dance Centre which offered many different types of dance training for both adults and children. The Dance Centre ran for 15 years with several other partner/teachers while Jenny travelled and lived overseas with Jim.
In 1987 Jenny founded the Wellington Performing Arts Centre which became an NZQA Private Training Establishment offering full-time training in dance, acting and musical theatre as well as dance, yoga and drama community classes for both adults and children. The Centre ran for 21 year before being sold to Whitireia New Zealand in 2008.
Jenny has also worked as a reviewer and dance writer and was for many years the dance critic for the Dominion and Dominion Post. She also wrote a monthly column on dance for the Dominion.