Helen has been an inspirational figure in the world of Australian dance for over four decades. She has led a highly-regarded and multi-faceted career over that time as a performer, choreographer, artistic director, creative collaborator, independent producer, project manager, teacher, performance coach, arts adviser and academic.
Helen showed exceptional leadership as artistic director of Danceworks, jointly with Beth Shelton from 1989 to 1991 and as sole director between 1992 and 1997. She continued her strong advocacy for dance as deputy chair of the Dance Fund, Australia Council in 1998 and went on to nurture new dance and the growth and development of independent artists as artistic director of Dancehouse from 2001 to 2003. Since 2005 she has held an academic position at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where she specialises in practice-led research with a focus on performance and choreography.
Helen’s unwavering commitment to dance has resulted in her being awarded several major residencies and scholarships. They include the Australian Bicentennial Travel Scholarship in 1988, which took her to the American Dance Festival, a residency at the Cité international des arts in Paris in 1994, a residency in the Dance Department, University of Western Sydney in 1995, a fellowship from the Dance Board, Australia Council in 1997-1998, and an Asialink Residency in Singapore with Theatreworks in 2000.
As a much-lauded choreographer, Helen has made work for small intimate venues, large outdoor sites and traditional theatre settings. Her choreography has also featured in theatre and opera performances, while her work for touring programs has resulted in her choreography being presented in festivals and events around the world. She has been the recipient of multiple awards for her choreography, direction and her many distinguished achievements, including two Green Room Awards, the 2003 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance, which she shared with Ben Cobham, and the 2007 Kenneth Myer Medallion.
(citation by Michelle Potter)