Meet Your Mentors
Chelsea Byrne / Producer & Dance Artist
Chelsea is a Naarm/Melbourne based dance artist and educator obsessed with interdisciplinary collaboration, creating immersive environments and promoting active spectatorship. Her movement practice uses image based improvisation and composition techniques to create varying tones and textures. Chelsea’s primary passion is creating experiences for young people that broaden their perceptions of dance while fostering interpersonal connection and unapologetic self-expression.
Chelsea studied dance extensively and holds a B Arts (Dance) / Education, P.Grad. Dip. in Performance Making (Choreography) and Master of Dance. Notable performance credits include Hypnagogia (Amanda Lever 2015) and Tangi Wai… The Cry of Water (Victoria Hunt, 2017) for International Festival, Dance Massive along with several screen based and live interdisciplinary works as a founding member Root Synthesis Collective. She also worked with Ausdance Victoria to coordinate community dance festival Big Dance in 2018 and advocates for dance being accessible to all by working across diverse settings.
Elnaz Sheshgelani / Storyteller, Dancer & Theatre Maker
Elnaz Sheshgelani is a Persian/Australian storyteller (“Naghal”), theatre maker, puppeteer and dancer. Her performance roots lie in Naghali, an ancient and endangered form of Persian dramatic storytelling that is believed to be several thousand years old. Elnaz has a PhD in Performing Arts and through doctoral research at Melbourne University creatively reconstructed the gestural vocabulary of the early form of Naghali that was lost after the Islamic conquest of Persia. Her goal is to help preserve Naghali by applying it inter-culturally.
Elnaz’s practice explores organic ways of creating, directing and choreographing. She is deeply interested in the performative aspects of communication and has focused on the design and creation of posture and gesture to develop a physical language that can be used for storytelling in the context of dance, theatre and puppetry. Elnaz is a member of UNESCO’s International Dance Council. She has run workshops in Armenia, Malaysia and Australia (La Mama Theatre), and is founder of Theatre Playroom, a small theatre studio in Melbourne, workshopping her findings in dance and theatre with Australian artists.
Gemma Notara / Sound and Image Artist
Gemma Notara is a composer, pianist and sound practitioner living on Gadigal country. Their work consists of original electroacoustic musical scores for contemporary dance, theatre and experimental audiovisual works. Gemma is a founding member of Root Synthesis Collective, whose work explores interactivity and improvisation using sound, movement and video art.
Gemma has worked with young people for nearly a decade as an artist, mentor, and teacher. As a mentor and guest artist, Gemma has contributed to the Girls Rock! Sound Skills 101 workshops, and enjoys facilitating the creation of stories through the use of AR technology as a digital artist for Arena Theatre Company’s Hidden Creatures Gallery, running interactive theatre workshops across Victoria and NSW since 2021.
As a researcher, their interest lies primarily in deepening the act of collaboration between different art forms, with a focus on the intersection between the moving body and music. Previous credits include Aotearoa Audio Arts Festival, Federation Square Soundwalk for Signal Screen Commissions, SXSW, Works For Loudspeakers Listening Sessions (NZ), Music From Her: Suffragettes Exhibition (NZ), Inhabit Dance Festival 2019, La Mama Explorations 2019, The Zoo Creations for Projection Dance Co and more. Gemma is a First Class Hons graduate of both RMIT University and Victorian College of The Arts.
Shelley O’Meara / Video Artist & Choreographer
Shelley O’Meara is a Naarm/Melbourne based video artist, animator, and dancer. Having recently completed their Honours degree in Animation at the VCA, Shelley’s work combines live movement, projected animation and intricate video layering techniques to develop highly immersive works on and off the screen. Concerned with power, autonomy and the politicisation of bodies; movement is Shelley’s primary storytelling tool and in 2019 they began training in contemporary dance to broaden their understanding of dynamic movement and embodiment. Shelley is a core member of interdisciplinary collective Root Synthesis and moonlights as a performer with sight specific theatre group Gold Satino.
Winner of VCA’s “New Voice Award” for Of Safe Return (2016), recipient of the Signal Screen Commission for An End in Itself (2017) winner of the Montsalvat Film Prize for It’s Brutal Baby (2019) previous participant in Dance House’s Emerging Choreographers Program (2021).
Operating on Wurundjeri lands, Shelley recognises the sovereignty of Australia's first peoples.
Jaklene Vukasinovic / Lighting Designer
Jaklene has danced, teched and ushered her way around theatres since she was seven. Initially training in secondary education, she worked in Australia and Japan as a language teacher, and meshed her two biggest interests by joining the team of school productions. With ten years of dance experience under her belt, she arrived at the University of Melbourne and jumped into the backstage world of student theatre, gaining experience across production, stage management, and sound, but after sitting at a lighting desk, Jaklene didn't want to be anywhere else.
Jaklene lit numerous productions at the University of Melbourne, before getting the opportunity to light shows at venues as intimate as The Butterfly Club and as large as The National Theatre St Kilda. Over the last decade she has designed lighting for cabaret, comedy and drama, one of her favourite shows being the site-specific show Never Ending Night for Melbourne Fringe. Jaklene loves sharing her lighting knowledge with performers in order to enhance and empower their performances, and has taught performers about lighting at performing arts festivals in New Zealand, Australia and Greece. She has been a resident lighting designer and operator for Impro Melbourne since 2012.