Alfira O'Sullivan / Artlands 2023
Alfira, born in Perth of Acehnese-Irish descent is a dance artist and educator specialising in traditional and contemporary Indonesian dance. She studied at the Institute of the Arts in Central Java and in Aceh and holds degrees in International Studies (UNSW) and Indonesian Studies (University of Sydney). In 2001, she founded Suara Indonesia Dance and has since performed as a solo artist as well as with her dance company nationally and internationally.
She regularly conducts traditional Acehnese body percussion workshops which are communal dances, in regional and remote communities including Yirrkala, East Arnhem Land where historical connections between Indonesia and Yolngu communities predate European settlement through trade.
She has collaborated with a number of Indonesian and Australian contemporary music ensembles and artists including: Lyn Williams AM and the Gondwana Choirs, Valla Voices, Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) the late Slamet Gundono, Rendra Freestone & The Rhythm Hunters, Agung Gunawan, Sawung Jabo, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal and Wei Zen Ho and recently returned from a developmental lab in Melbourne with First Nations senior choreographer Raymond Blanco produced by AsiaTopa and Blakdance.
She has presented new choreographed work informed by her traditional practice in Australia, Indonesia and Europe and conducted trauma healing dance and music workshops in Palestine, Aceh post 2004 tsunami, Yogyakarta and Papua New Guinea. She is frequently interviewed as a scholarly reference and has presented at international conferences on the topic of Acehese body percussion in Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and Australia.
Alfira resides on Ngambaa Country, the mid north coast of NSW where she engages with and for her local community in performing and visual art classes through a local ‘Art House’ that she initiated after the bushfires of 2020. She is interested in seeing more Asian - Australian arts practices in regional spaces and is a strong advocate for inclusion, cultural safety and social justice.