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Introducing Venaska Cheliah: Tracks Dance Company's New Chair

THE YEAR WAS 2005. I was standing at the top of the ramps of the Darwin Entertainment Centre, watching two firemen rappelling down a building wearing massive angel wings and I knew I’d just witnessed something magical.

That day changed the way I viewed dance for the rest of my life – all I wanted was to be a part of it. Little did I know, some 15 years later, I’d be stepping into the role of chairperson of the company that allowed me to become the artist that I am today.

Tracks Dance has been part of my life since that day in 2005. I watched their Darwin Festival shows year after year, aspiring to be a dancer in their productions. Whilst unsuccessful in my first audition in 2008, I was given great advice to start expanding my dance repertoire, which is what I did.

I took any opportunity that came my way, learnt to collaborate with other artists and continued to harbour my Bharatanatyam skills, which is a style of Indian classical dance. I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity in 2011 to join the cast of Crocodile Man Pineapple Woman, and have performed with Tracks Dance on multiple productions every year since.

I am both excited and nervous to be stepping up as chairperson this year. Women, especially young women, continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity.

I’ve always believed that young people are agents of change. We are constantly striving to improve our communities and to give back as much as we can. Our viewpoints and insights are often influenced, not just by what we are told, but by what we see. I want to break down some barriers in this role, as a young female from an ethnic background.

I know that I have a lot to learn and big shoes to fill and, with the support of the Tracks family, I’m confident I can do it.


Photo: Duane Preston

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