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The Stellar Company is passionate about dance,

equity and equality.

I am so proud of the work we do, the opportunities we provide and how our team connect through a shared vision and ethos of compassion. We consistently seek to transform, defying expectations and uplift our communities through quality arts experiences for all. Dance transforms, we embrace this and seek the most insightful, innovative ways to empower the communities we work with. We draw strength and inspiration from our base in Australia’s capital. We lead by example – with years of dedicated practice across our team informing our approach. As a team we have seen a clear need in the ACT for the delivery of quality inclusive arts programs that are embedded in access and we have dedicated ourselves to shaping a series of programs that respond to and arise from this need. As a Director, working part time, the Stellar ethos aligns with and informs my Liz Lea Dance work and also the proposed new role at QL2 Dance as their Inclusion Officer. I am so excited at the prospect of what we can achieve for our ACT arts community and for Australia’s Capital of Culture.

Liz Lea Artistic Director

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First Nations Respect and Advisors

We are committed to walking softly on Ngunnawal land.

Since 2006 we have offered mentoring projects which have supported First Nations dance artists from across Australia in coming to the ACT to be mentored and perform across Canberra including leading venues such as Lewellen Hall and Parliament House.

We consulted directly with Aunty Brown, Ngunnawal Elder on the development of our Recognise program in 2019-20. This was presented to mark 13th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. The process of consultation with the Ngunnawal Elder’s Council facilitated the founding of the Ngunnawal Youth Dance Group.

Tammi Gissell has been working with Stellar since 2014. She was a founding member of the Recognise Program and will act as our First Nations advisor for the team and Emma Laverty.

As another core member of the Recognise team, Emma has established Canberra’s First Nations dance company Project Dust. Project Dust is an emerging First Nations dance group with a vision to build young mob confident and strong in their culture through dance. The Stellar team are acutely aware of the pressures on independent artists face when looking to establish a new venture and, following on from the Recognise program we are keen to support Emma by bringing her into the team as a satellite company – we are applying for financial support for her to cover her basic fees and also offering her mentoring in producing, presenting and company structure development.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our relationships must be grounded in a foundation of truth and respect and we work to this ethos flourishing.

Tammi Gissell
First Nations Adivisor

Tammi Gissell is a dancer, performance artist and choreographer as well as being a published poetess and performance theorist. She has toured remotely, regionally, nationally and internationally in a range of performance genres over the past 24 years. She holds a Bachelor of Performance: Theory and Practice from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and graduated Deans’ Medallist and Reconciliation Scholar in 2005. From 2007 - 2011 Tammi was Course Coordinator at the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Association (NAISDA Dance College) Tertiary Dance Council, the BlakDance First Nations Dance Panel and the National Dance Forum and completed choreographic commissions for OCHRE Dance Company, Canberra Dance Theatre and delivered lectures to the DanScience Festival in Canberra. Tammi took up the role of Education Coordinator/Artist with The New Zealand Dance Company in 2017. She is currently overseeing the relocation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection of materials from the Museum of Applied Sciences to the new Parramatta Powerhouse.

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Emma Laverty
First Nations Adivisor

Emma Laverty is a proud Boorooberongal Clanswoman of the Darug tribe and has been living on Ngunnawal Country since 2014. Emma started teaching dance back in early 2003 in NSW and cannot see herself being anywhere else but in a studio. Her career has allowed her to take on large scale productions, collaborate and network in the community and schools, and fine tune her practice. The core of Emma’s teaching ethos is a student-centred approach whereby individual needs are identified and a safe, nurturing space to thrive in is created. Emma holds a Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management, is a certified Meditation Teacher & Coach in Holistic Human Development, Holistic Counsellor, and Chair Yoga Instructor from the Holistic Health and Wellbeing Academy, and she is a certified Keeping Kids Safe in Dance teacher. Emma has a keen interest in Aboriginal Contemporary Dance and mentoring our next generation to reach their full potential.

Access and Inclusion

People with disability are core to all Stellar projects.

Accessibility is imperative.

We are building an Access All Areas approach by engaging two access consultants with lived experience of disability, Natalee Thomas and Brett Olzen.. Our Artistic Director and Rehearsal Assistant both identify as living with Chronic Illness as do many of our participants. Consultation is key – nothing about us without us.

The Stellar programs have been developed to stimulate awareness, start fresh conversations and remove barriers moving towards the shift in mainstream thinking and the push for equality in arts and culture. Through all our programs, The Stellar Company has genuine connections with artists living with disability in Canberra and the wider community. Our knowledge of disabilities and the technologies that remove barriers for people living with Disability continues to grow. We continually seek feedback to learn, improve and advocate. Leadership is a shared process most effective when all parties are equally and respectfully involved.

By creating space to develop strong connections we will continue to engage in open conversations, consultation methods, gathering feedback to create fresh discussions about inclusion and diversity. Core funding will enable Stellar to position itself as the company with expert knowledge and the ability to provide current, respectful and helpful solutions to Accessibility and Inclusion.

We recognise that society often limits and disables. Authentic leadership must lead transformation and innovation to create inclusive and equitable communities and organisations for all. Stellar Connect will influence other events to be fully accessible in leading by example across all community projects. The access message is shared across generations - it becomes normal for younger people and this filters through to elders, CALD and LGBTQI communities. The disability community is empowered to attend, participate and engage without barriers.

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Natalee Thomas 
Access Advisor

Natalee Thomas; I am passionate about art, education, disabled rights, accessibility and advocacy; especially when all are combined. I am working with Accessible Arts N.S.W and a number of art based organisations in the A.C.T to make exhibitions and live events accessible. I am also working with Tuggeranong Arts Centre to further accessibility and to promote  artisits with disability. I also assisting multiple individuals with disability to access needed services, and on occasion do contracted safety and accessibility auditing for different agencies and organisations. I have a degree in visual arts in traditional printmaking and drawing, and have done multiple courses in disability and accessibility practice. I also specialise in training in the following areas: Accessibility and Disability, Rights of People with Disability, Self-Confidence and Supported Decision-Making for People with Disability, and more.  

Brett Olzen 
Access Advisor

Brett is a Child of Deaf Adults and the only native-speaking Auslan interpreter in Canberra. During the last 20 years Brett Olzen has worked as an interpreter with Territory and Federal Government, with Prime Ministers and the Dalai Lama, and at the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards.

Brett worked with Canberra Institute of Technology for over ten years and advocated for inclusion and access for Deaf students and has frequently volunteered to interpret for fundraising events, community events, sports clubs and church groups, and worked outside regular business hours including emergency call outs.

Some of the events and programs that Brett has made more accessible and inclusive include Rebus Theatre performances, The BOLD Festival, a dance program at Belconnen Arts Centre, computer access programs, and guided tours at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Brett Olzen was a finalist for the Life Time Achievement in Supporting People with Disability award at the 2019 ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards.

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