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Academic Programme Manager
School of Creative Industries
I was born in South Africa and began dancing when I was 4 years old. I graduated from Tshwane University of Technology with a National Diploma: Dance in 1995 and was offered a full time contract with PACT DANCE COMPANY at the end of that year. I was a member of the PACT DANCE COMPANY from 1995-1998, renamed the STATE THEATRE DANCE COMPANY where I was a principal dancer with this company until 2000.
In June 2000 the South African government announced that professional dance companies would cease to exist. Within in a week, all theatre doors were closed. It was during this time that five of us got together and initiated minor performance events in small venues and shopping centers around the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas. This group soon grew bigger and we managed to raise enough money to produce ‘The Nutcracker’ in the State Theatre, at the end of 2000. This was the birth of the SOUTH AFRICAN BALLET THEATRE of which I was a founder member, contemporary principal and rehearsal director until 2004. The SOUTH AFRICAN BALLET THEATRE or MZANSI BALLET is now recognized as the national company of South Africa, employing around 40 staff members.
During my professional dance career I have worked with renowned international artists including Robert North (London Contemporary Dance Theatre/Ballet Rambert), Ed Wubbe (Scapino Ballet Rotterdam), Bebe Miller (Bebe Mille Company), Donald Byrd (Donald Byrd/The Group), Shapiro and Smith (Shapiro and Smith Dance), Shelley Sheer (Batcheva), Maggie Sietzma (Expressions Dance Company), Kenneth Greve (The Royal Danish Ballet) and Marie Brolin-Tani (MBT Dance Theatre).
In 2004 my family and I moved to Auckland, New Zealand where I joined Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts in 2005 as lecturer in Contemporary and Ballet techniques. Our beautiful daughter Calamme was also born in 2005.
In 2006, I accepted the role of Program Director and from 2007 – 2013 as the Program Co-ordinator /Curriculum Leader of the Dance Program in the Department of Performing and Screen Arts. I was also Acting Head of Department for an iterim period of 4 months in 2013. During my 8 years at Unitec I have been a member of various committees, deputy chair of the Programme Committee and chair of the Live and Dance Discipline meetings. I am currently chairing our departmental leadership meetings and have been voted a member of Faculty Academic Committee, in August this year.
In 2008 I completed my Baccalaurus Technologiae: Dance with honors. I was promoted to Senior L ecturer in November 2013.
- My professional development includes working as rehearsal director with Michael Parmenter's Commotions Company during his production of ‘TENT’ in 2008.
- In 2009 I joined the Southern Lights Dance Company for 6 weeks, performing in Shona McCullagh and Fleur de Thier’s works as part of the Body Festival in Christchurch.
- In 2010 I was the executive producer of the Unitec Dance 21st birthday celebration showcase ‘A Life Between Us’ and in 2011 I was invited to teach and train the dancers at the Black Grace Dance Company for a period of 3 months.
- In 2011 I performed in ‘Not Now’, a new work that was choreographed for me, by renowned Australian choreographer, Tim Podesta. The work was performed in both New Zealand and Australia.
- In 2012 I was invited to sit on the board of the Auckland Council’s ARTS advisory panel and worked with New Zealand Dance Company as rehearsal director and Youth Engagement Officer, in both 2012 and 2013.
I am the proud recipient of three Unitec awards: ‘Quality of Service Team Award’ in 2009, the FCIB Award for ‘Meeting the Needs of the Community’ and a Unitec Award for ‘Enhancing the Student Experience in 2011.
Byrnes, V. K., Griggs, C., & Foster-Sproull, S. (2018). Collaborative Creativity: Pedagogical Practice and Relational Innovation in Aotearoa/New Zealand Contemporary Dance Training. An Outlook on Future Dance Training Beijing Dance Academy: International President's Dance Forum, Beijing, China.