sue healey

Sue Healey is a leading, Sydney-based choreographer, described by Erin Brannigan in her introduction to a 2004 RealTime interview as “a survivor in the Australian dance scene.” Her capacity to survive in the under-funded Australian dance ecology is doubtlessly fuelled by the strength of her vision:

“I create dance that acknowledges the potency of the human body to take us into the realm of the extraordinary. I believe dance to be vital human research and as a means to communicate across cultural boundaries. I am committed to creating a theatrical language that illuminates and transforms, revealing subtle layers of movement and perception” (www.suehealey.com.au).

As a choreographer Healey appears pretty much a formalist, producing with her dancer collaborators geometrical patternings (accentuated by the poles and lines the performers dextrously manipulate in Healey’s Fine Line Terrain, 2004) that are at once taut and fluid. Finely responsive dancers like Shona Erskine, Lisa Griffiths and Nalina Wait are expert in realising Healey’s demand for heightened, abstract articulation in this dance essay about our manipulation of space as habitation.
The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

On the other hand, in As You Take Time (2007), with its multiple performance sites and screen duplication of performers live and recorded, there’s a more open performativity, with witty filmed encounters and stagings in Japan alonside live embodied recollections of cross-cultural experiences.

What’s particularly interesting about Healey is her sense of exploration (of time, cultures, perception, body mechanics), of research become art or, better, art as research. Above all it is her preoccupation with perception (amplified by her filmmaking craft and its multimedia manifestations) that gives her body of work its enduring substance: “(Experiencing) dance, whether as observer or performer, can enhance the way we perceive our reality as moving, sentient beings interacting on this fragile planet.”
The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

The Curiosities, Sue Healey, Performance Space

Healey began a degree in Science at Auckland University, New Zealand, before coming to Melbourne in 1981. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a BA (Dance Performance) and then a Masters Degree in Choreography at Melbourne University. She was a founding member of Danceworks in Melbourne and performed and choreographed with the company from 1983 to 1988. In the 1990s she created works for many dance companies in Australia and has been Artistic Director of Vis-à-Vis Dance Canberra (1993-95) and the Sue Healey Company from 2002, touring the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan and New Zealand. Her film Will Time Tell? won Best Dance Film at the 2008 Australian Dance Awards. Sue Healey was awarded the 2008 Robert Helpmann Scholarship by the NSW Ministry of Arts. Her company is touring to the International Festival of Media and Arts, Yokohama Japan in November 2009. Healey is currently a Visiting Fellow at the School of English, Media and Performance, UNSW. A review of Healey’s latest work, The Curiosities, will appear in RealTime 94.
Keith Gallasch


the body: re-examined, recreated, restless
jodie mcneilly: sue healey, the curiosities

dancing cultural time zones
keith gallasch: sue healey, as you take time

reeldance: the dance-cinema hybrid
karen pearlman: reeldance 2004

dancing the labyrinth
richard james allen: sue healey, fine line terrain

niche #2 a salon performance
erin brannigan: antistatic 2002


the slippery path
erin brannigan: time series

the fine lines of creation
erin brannigan: niche series

dancewrite workshop feature

For the 2008 RealTime-Critical Path DanceWrite workshop, Sue Healey showed and spoke to her film Will Time Tell?, after which participants wrote their responses to the work.

will time tell?: into the cultural vortex
ashley syne

will time tell?: precise moves
jane mckernan

will time tell?: multiple beings
yana taylor

will time tell?: many times
pauline manley

Video excerpt embedded with permission from the artist

23 November 2009