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Sue Healey

Andrew Frost

Born in New Zealand in 1962 Sue Healey is a performer, choreographer, educator and dance-film maker. Healey’s practice extends beyond the traditional venues for dance with iterations of her projects staged in gallery settings as live performance elements within multimedia installations. As the creator of film and video projects Healy’s works have been widely exhibited and screened both within Australia and in international festivals, touring programs, online and on broadcast television.

Healey has also been involved in research into choreographic cognition, measuring emotional and perceptual responses among audience members to live performances. Of her work Healey states, “I create dance that acknowledges the potency of the human body to take us into the realm of the extraordinary. I am committed to creating a theatrical language that inspires and transforms, revealing subtle layers of movement and perception. I believe dance to be vital human research” []

Healey was awarded a Bachelor of Dance Performance 1st class at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1983. Between 1982 and 1988 Healey was involved with the Danceworks Company in Melbourne, a group that she co-founded. Between 1993 and 1995 she was the artistic director of Vis-à-vis Dance Canberra (formerly the Meryl Tankard Company). In 2000 she was awarded a Masters in Choreography, Melbourne University and from 1999 to 2001 she served a s board member of the Dance Board of the Australia Council.  

Film projects include Knee Deep in Thin Air [1992] Fugue [1994] Slipped [1997], Fine Line [2003], Once in A Blue Moon [2006], Reading The Body [2008], and Alma & Ena [2011]. These projects are notable for their combination of music, movement and carefully edited sequences that cut between performers highlighted in close ups to wide shots revealing stylized sets. This cutting allows the viewer a sense of intimacy and involvement in the action and space to consider the greater narrative of the work. Will Time Tell? [2006] describes the subjective experience of time while travelling in a foreign country, the action centering on the interactions between a woman in a bright red jacket and the people, subways and streets of Tokyo.  The Door, The Chair, The Bed, The Stair [2011] was made to be experienced as a single screen video installation work. The single screen, split into four vertical frames, switches between the locations of the title as a single performer interacts with each object, before the locations are joined in various combinations.  The Curiosities [2011] is “…inspired by the processes of biological development and evolution [and] evokes the feeling of a surreal natural history museum, where the body is presented as a specimen for scrutiny - homo sapiens - fragile and flawed” []. Writing on the work Pauline Manley observed that “Sue Healey is a masterful filmmaker, choreographer and performance-maker. She creates art with refined attention to aesthetic formation and placement. With acknowledged Japanese influences, she creates works of subtlety, symmetry and understatement” [Realtime #94].

Healey has won numerous awards for her work including a Choreographic Fellowship [1999/2000] and Creative Fellowship [2013], both awarded by the Australia Council, a Robert Helpmann Scholarship [2009], a Post Production Award by the DFA New York [2012] and an Outstanding Achievement in Dance Film at the Australian Dance Awards 20003, 2008, 2013 and Il Coreografo Eletronnico Italy 2004.

b. 1962
Birth place
New Zealand
Period of activity 
from 1982

Lives and works

New South Wales
1 January 2002
Related organisations
Selected works
Selected events
Will Time Tell?, – via Vimeo 
Fine Line, – via Vimeo 
Once In A Blue Moon, – via Vimeo 
Alma & Ena, – via Vimeo 
Sue Healey - WHY, Sue Healey discusses the making of 'Reading the Body' – via Vimeo 
Sue Healey - Aus art history, Sue Healey gives her perspective on media art history – via Vimeo 
Sue Healey - WHO, Sue Healey discusses her biography – via Vimeo 
Sue Healey, 'As You Take Time' - still ,
Sue Healey, 'As You Take Time' - still , – from As You Take Time, via 
Sue Healey, 'Reading the Body' 2009 – from Reading the Body, via Vimeo 
The Door, Chair, Bed & Stair - film for installation, – from The Curiosities, via Vimeo