An extraordinary career: Cheryl Stock, AM

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Cheryl Stock has had an extraordinary career, bridging all sectors of Australia’s professional dance scene and many in the Asia-Pacific region. She has been a performer, choreographer, artistic director, funding body chair, head of a tertiary dance course, teacher, mentor, collaborator, writer, researcher and an internationally-recognised scholar.

Cheryl is a major creative artist, having choreographed works for ADT, Human Veins Dance Theatre, One Extra, Dance North and many independent projects. She has also choreographed and directed over 40 dance/theatre works comprising mainstream productions, site-specific work, musicals, community dance events and alternative projects. She has been a community dance artist, a teacher of master classes and a lecturer at The Australian Ballet School, the Victorian College of the Arts and NIDA, and was head of dance and director of postgraduate studies at QUT.

Cheryl has presented keynote addresses and papers at cultural conferences nationally and internationally and written articles for a range of educational and arts publications. She also contributed to policy development through membership of Australia Council boards, and was one of those instrumental in having dance recognised as an art form separate from theatre, resulting in the eventual formation of the Dance Board, which she also chaired.

Cheryl was National President of Ausdance between 1996 and 2000. Her editorial piece in the organisation’s 21st birthday edition of Dance Forum was a significant reminder of the place of dance in our lives, and promoted a vision for the future of Ausdance which embraced all forms of dance.

Throughout her long and varied career Cheryl has built a particular affinity with Asia through collaborations with our Asian neighbours. As artistic director of Dance North, Cheryl worked extensively on cultural exchange programs, especially in Vietnam where she worked with the Vietnam Opera Ballet, the National Dance School and the National Mime Company. In 1995 she was honoured by the Vietnamese government with the rare award of two medals, one for Services to Dance in Vietnam, and the other for Services to the Women’s Movement. She completed a PhD in 1999 entitled Making intercultural dance in Vietnam.

Cheryl has been a passionate supporter of the World Dance Alliance (WDA) and its activities in our region since its formation by founder Carl Wolz in the late 1980s. She had always regarded Carl as a mentor and visionary, and was inspired by his vision for a cohesive and connected global dance community. Her long commitment to WDA led to her being elected Secretary General of the organisation, following many years’ service as WDA Vice-President (Pacific).

Cheryl has facilitated 19 cultural exchange programs in Asia, and is particularly committed to introducing students to dance in the Asia-Pacific region. As head of dance at QUT Cheryl’s extensive networks of artists and organisations opened many doors for her young students, extending their education beyond Australia and providing them with cultural understanding and lasting contacts in the region. In 2006 Cheryl produced and directed a transcultural interactive work, Accented Body, which took place across six sites with distributed presences in Seoul and London.

In 2008 Cheryl conceived and produced the World Dance Alliance Global Summit in Brisbane, chairing the artistic panel, managing the multi-layered artistic program and reviewing the conference papers for Dance Dialogues—conversations across cultures, artforms and practices, now published by Ausdance as a peer-reviewed publication. She has just completed work on the 2014 WDA Global Summit in Angers, France, where many of the world’s leading dance scholars, performers, teachers and administrators congregated to share knowledge, networks and information.

Cheryl has worked tirelessly with WDA to ensure that communication between disparate cultures, projects and ambitions has been maintained and enhanced. Respect for her scholarship and vision is widespread throughout the national and international dance world, as recognised with her recent elevation as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) ‘for significant service to the performing arts as a choreographer, educator and administrator’. In addition to her AM, Cheryl has received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Flinders University, an Australian Artists Creative Fellowship and an Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003.

Cheryl’s long list of achievements started with her artistic practice, but she has gone on to influence policy, dance education, scholarship and research, dance leadership and artistic vision. These achievements make her an Australian to be proud of, with a vision that can be matched by very few involved in Australian dance in the last four decades.

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