"Helen is one of the best Animatuers currently working in Australia, possessing a depth of experience in both professional and community practice"
- Guy Boyce, CEO / Artistic Director Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
HELEN DUNCAN works across dance, theatre, fashion and visual arts to produce vibrant, high quality entertainment productions and arts participation activities. As the Creative Director of Wearable Art Mandurah (2014 – 2017), she has led the competition from a small-scale fashion show into one of Australia’s most prominent Creative Arts Showcases. Her working method is highly collaborative and with skilled leadership she engages with artists individual strengths to promote authentic and skilled performance outcomes. In theatre, Helen has most recently provided choreographic support for Elbow Room’s production “Niche”, reviewed as "one of the most technically accomplished plays this reviewer has ever seen on Melbourne stages, large or small" (Arts Hub) and awarded top 10 productions of 2017 by Time Out Magazine. As Artistic Director for Riptide Performing Arts Company(2011-2014) she designed projects to engage young people with cutting edge contemporary theatre and dance experiences. Under her direction the group have worked with professionals from Sydney Theatre Company, Black Swan Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, Barking Gecko, Shaun Parker and others. Her independent dance theatre work has been presented at Edinburgh Fringe, Perth Fringe, Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festivals.
In collaboration with various other international and Australian artists, Helen has devised and performed in works presented at Edinburgh Fringe, Perth Fringe, Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In 2007 & 2008 Helen was engaged with the City of Mandurah as Festival Director for the City’s annual Stretch Arts Festival. In 2009 she relocated to the United Kingdom where she was appointed Dance Development Officer at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. She was responsible for progressing the school’s dance initiatives and supported the touring activity of the postgraduate performance company, Verve. . Helen has previously received mentorship from the KAGE Coach program and was awarded scholarship to attend a workshop series with Ultima Vez in Brussels and is a recipient of the Australia Council’s Arts Start grant.
Helen is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Post Graduate performance company, Link (2007)
BA Arts Honours
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (2007)
Skills & Experience
Major Projects & Initatives
ENLIGHTEN ME BIRREGURRA
Oversight Committee & Collaborating Artist 2016 - 2018
WEARABLE ART MANDURAH
Artistic Director 2014 - 2017
CREATIVE BEHAVIOURS DANCE COLLECTIVE
Artistic Director 2014 - 2017
RIPTIDE PERFORMING ARTS COMPANY
Artistic Director 2011 - 2014
STRETCH ARTS & CULTURAL FESTIVAL
Artistic Programming 2007 & 2008
- Generate ideas and concepts for artistic delivery.
- Provide direction for creative development periods, skills development opportunities & final performance outcomes.
- Consult with key stakeholders to translate artistic concepts and ideas into deliverable outcomes.
- Work across artforms - visual arts, theatre, contemporary music, writing, dance & circus.
- Work with artists, professional performers and community groups to develop artistic material.
SET & COSTUME DESIGN
- Design set and costume concepts
- Draft design briefs, clearly communicating artistic concepts to achieve and maintain broader overarching creative objectives.
- Source material & contract construction teams
- Oversee the development and construction of design outcomes.
PROMOTING IDENTITY & CULTURE
- Manage projects with respect and understanding for cultural protocol and sensitivities.
- Work in collaboration with a variety of cultural & community groups including youth, regional & remote, Indigenous arts, disability arts and working with people from culturally/linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Work within the framework of a local government environment, promote strong outcome for city branding & local tourism objectives.
- Negotiate contracts with leading international artists and companies.
- Identify artists & arts workers for key projects and work with those artists to ensure good outcome.
- Mentor artists to ensure projects are successfully achieved on time and within budget.
- Mentor & integrate different skills levels into projects from beginner to professional level.
- Design workshops and mentorship opportunities to ensure strong professional outcome.
- Identify critical pathways and develop plans for successful delivery of large-scale arts projects.
- Identify, prepare and manage project concepts, timelines, budgets and contracts.
- Supervise and manage volunteers, cast, crew and administration staff.
- Manage project recruitment including facilitating auditions and negotiating contracts with high profile, internationally recognised artists.
- Communicate with a broad range of key stakeholders including reporting to board level management, managing internal meetings and liaising with community participants.
- Develop artistic briefs and manage teams of creatives to achieve and maintain broader overarching creative objectives.
- Public speaking including press (radio & print), adjusting communication style to suit the occasion.
BUDGET & FINANCIAL REPORTING
- Manage large-scale budgets.
- Successfully engage new sponsorship opportunities and draft funding applications to local state and federal departments.
- Ensure compliance with all funding and sponsorship agreements.
- Post event analysis and reporting; including completion of grant acquittals and financial reports.
Independent Projects & Commissions
- The Living Stage - An experimental performance work responding to Tanja Beers installation as part of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale (2018) PERFORMER & CHOREOGRAPHER
- Niche - Written and performed by Emily Tomlins and Eryn Jean Norvill presented as part of Speakeasy with support from Darebin Arts (2017) CHOREOGRAPHER
- Uncle Vanya – Directed by Nadia Tass presented by Red Stitch Theatre (2016) CHOREOGRAPHIC ASSISTANCE
- Detroit - Directed by Tanya Dickson presented by Red Stitch Theatre (2015) MOVEMENT DIRECTOR
- We Get It - Written by Marcel Dorney and Rachel Perks presented as part of Melbourne Theatre Company's NEON Festival (2017) CHOREOGRAPHER
- SHE. - Devised & Directed by Helen Duncan presented at Blue Stone Church Arts Space (2015) DIRECTOR
- My.Selfie - Written by Suzie Miller in collaboration with Riptide Performing Arts Company presented by Mandurah Performing Arts Centre (2014) MOVEMENT MENTOR & PRODUCER
- Shiver Curtain Raiser Performance - Choreographed in collaboration with Danielle Micich presented as part of Performing Lines regional tour of Shiver (2012) CHOREOGRAPHER & PRODUCER
- [CONTENT] - Devised & Directed by Helen Duncan & Elanor Webber presented at Melbourne Fringe Festival. Supported by 2012 KAGE COACH CO-DIRECTOR & PRODUCER
- 3’s Company, 2’s A Party - Devised & Directed by Helen Duncan, Quindell Orton & Sarah Alexander presented at 2011 Edinburgh Fringe, 2012 Perth Fringe & 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival CO-DIRECTOR & PRODUCER
- Sound may be the last sense - Directed by Helen Duncan Large scale community performance work for Stretch Arts & Cultural Festival (2012) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
- Her Story - Devised & Directed by Helen Duncan Diving in the deep end residency recipient (2011) DIRECTOR
- Directed & Performed Her Story, as part of a curated program at Newington Dance Space, Newington (2011)
- Directed & Performed Pop as part of a curated program Café Choreographique @ The Point, Eastleigh (2010)
- Performed with Puppik Dance Company as part of Resolutions Festival, London (2011)
- Performed with Darkin Ensemble, Old Vic Theatre, Bristol (2010)
- Performed independent work Helped, by Luis Gallo Mudarra, Mastershipwrights House – London (2010)
- Engaged as a dancer for Pauline Mayer’s Creative Development for The Promise (2009)
- Choreolab with Wendy Houston & Gary Clarke, Yorkshire Dance – Leeds, UK (2010)
- Participation in a range of professional development workshops including: Composition Workshop: Crossing the Stage. and other scores, Matteo Fargion, Brighton, UK (2010) Skinner Releasing Technique, Lily Kiara, Amsterdam, Holland (2008) Roberto Zappala: Technique and Vocabulary, Uva Grapes Festival – Catania, Sicily (2008) Inaki Azpillaga: Technique and Vocabulary, Uva Grapes Festival – Catania, Sicily (2008)
Awards & Achievements
- KAGE COACH recipient 2012
- Jardin D’Europe Scholarship winner 2009 – Attendance at Ultima Vez workshop with Laura Aris
- ArtStart Recipient 2010
- Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – Diving into the deep end recipient
References & Video Samples available on request
A little more about me...
In 2007 I graduated the Western Australian Academy of performing Arts with a BA Arts Honours in Dance. During this time I performed with Link Dance Company under the direction of Michael Whaites. Michael was former dancer with Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal in Germany and I like to think my choreographic process, creative interests and inspiration has been importantly influenced and informed by this lineage.
I am interested in creating new work that reflects contemporary society and mirrors the people we are today; our cultural social affairs and how we exist on a day to day basis. In doing so, I hope to reveal an appreciation for a spectrum of modern human behaviour and tendencies including its beauty, its vulgarity, it’s wisdom, it’s stupidity and it’s simplicity.
As an independent artist I have engaged with a broad range of roles and responsibilities including dancer, choreographer, artistic director, teacher, producer and project manager. This fluidity of job description is, in part, a necessary action for creating a sustainable career as an Australian independent artist. It has also significantly and positively influenced the way that I create new work and collaborate with others. I work with a strengths based approach; collaborating with others to identify and use individual strengths and assets to generate strong and authentic performance outcomes.