Keir Winner | Ghenoa Gela

Finalists of the 2016 Keir Choreographic Award: (L-R) Sarah Aiken, Ghenoa Gela, Rebecca Jensen and Martin Hansen. Photo by Daniel Boud

Ghenoa Gela Wins Prestigious Keir Choreographic Award!

After a fabulous finals performance show at Sydney’s Carriageworks on May 7, the winner of the 2016 Keir Choreographic Award and $30,000 is Sydney-based choreographer and performer from Torres Strait Islands, Ghenoa Gela.
The award is presented by The Keir Foundation, Carriageworks and Dancehouse with the Australia Council. This is the second edition of the award which was launched in 2014. The KCA is the only award in Australia that supports the commissioning and presentation of new choreographic work promoting innovative, experimental and cross-art form practice in contemporary dance.
The top four finalists Rebecca Jensen, Sarah Aiken, Ghenoa Gela and Martin Hansen, presented their commissioned works for the KCA over three nights at Carriageworks to Sydney audiences.
The prestigious international and local jury nominated Ghenoa Gela, as the recipient of the Keir Choreographic Award for 2016. The jury included Bojana Cvejić (Belgrade), performance theorist and performance maker based in Brussels; Pierre Bal-Blanc, Documenta 14 curator and independent art critic based in Athens and Paris; US based choreographer Sarah Michelson, inaugural recipient of the KCA in 2014, Atlanta Eke and Phillip Keir, Keir Foundation founder.
Phillip Keir founder of the Keir Foundation awarded Ghenoa with the accolade and a $30,000 cash prize and to her overwhelming surprise a further $10,000 cash prize for the audience choice award!  Phillip commented, It is fantastic to see new innovative works take to the stage. The inventiveness of all the works stands without question and points to the health of contemporary dance in Australia.”
Lisa Havilah, Carriageworks Director said, ‘’Supporting artists and the making of new work is at the heart of the Carriageworks Artistic Program and we are delighted to support and nurture the next generation of choreographers. Congratulations to all the commissioned artists and to the extraordinary Ghenoa Gela for her incredible work, a very worthy winner. ”
Ghenoa Gela’s work Fragments of Malungoka – Women of the Sea explores what Ghenoa’s female ancestry means to her as a Mainland born Torres Strait Islander woman. By sharing her culture with an ensemble of non-Torres Strait women, Ghenoa integrates traditional influences with contemporary movement and technology.
Ghenoa said, “I believe these awards are invaluable for the contemporary dance scene in Australia. The notion that eight new works have been commissioned and multiple artists have been employed through the award is very inspiring for the sector. I am overwhelmed by the support I have felt throughout this time and am proud that my work was considered as a possible reflection of the current dance climate. Big Esso (Thank you) to my parents, from who I learnt the process of sharing our culture.  They led the way for me to be passionate about my Torres Strait identity; something I will be able to continue sharing as a recipient of this award.”
Watch highlights of the Keir Choreographic Award 2016 here:
DANCELIFE: Read About the Four Finalist here.

Ghenoa Gela’s 'Fragments of Malungoka – Women of the Sea' for the 2016 Keir Choreographic Award. Photo Gregory Lorenzutti for Dancehouse


Fragments of Malungoka – Women of the Sea, comes from the Kala Lagaw Ya language group in the Western Torres Straits. This work is driven by Ghenoa’s curiosity about her female ancestry on her mum’s side, and the questioning of where this sits with her in the western world that she is more familiar with. By sharing her culture with an ensemble of non-Torres Straight women, Ghenoa integrates traditional influences with contemporary movement and technology. Wireless live feed with real-time visual image manipulation, broaches notions of self-monitoring and surveillance within a group, resulting in restrictions on growth and progress.
Concept/Choreography: Ghenoa Gela
Performers: Elle Evangelista, Melanie, Palomares, Melinda Tyquin
Interactive and LX Designer: Toby Knyvett
Music Designer: Ania Reynolds
Interactive Operator: Robert Hughes
Cultural Advisor: Aunty Agnes Santo
Outside Eye: Danielle Micich