18 AUG 2023

QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and Brisbane Powerhouse are thrilled to announce the highly-anticipated winner of the 2023 Wandima Fellowship, proud Wakka Wakka, Ngugi and Birrpai woman, Ngioka Bunda-Heath. 

Drawn from a Yagara word meaning “rising; going upwards”, the year-long Wandima Fellowship, now in its second year, was formed to support early-career Indigenous Australian creative practitioners and includes a supported program of mentoring, professional development, internship and work experience within the creative space of both QUT and Brisbane Powerhouse. 

Based in Naarm (Melbourne), Ngioka is an independent First Nations dancer who holds an Advanced Diploma in the Performing Arts (Dance) from Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts and was the first Aboriginal woman in her field to graduate from the Victorian Collage of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance). 

Ngioka already holds a strong presence in the Australian dance community as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and coordinator which includes teaching within Bangarra Dance Theatre’s youth program and at Victorian College of the Arts. Her formidable efforts towards not only producing new, innovative works, but to sharing her knowledge through education and cultural experiences have given her a leading edge within her field, now being recognised with her rich potential for new, various career opportunities. 

As part of the Fellowship, Ngioka will explore her connection to country and develop her new contemporary dance work, Estuary. Based in Ngugi language in the form of song and dance techniques from Stradbroke Island, Estuary explores Mother Earth’s waterways as lifeblood connecting us all.  

Ngoika says “It is time for me to come back home and create and share stories through dance. As an Indigenous Australian artist, this fellowship allows me to build upon my skills and showcase my passions whilst continuing the great work of those that have come before me whilst establishing deeper industry connections and pathways back home in Brisbane.” 

Brad Spolding, Arts Program Director of Brisbane Powerhouse states, “Ngioka Bunda-Heath is a dynamic and exciting artist with a substantial creative history and national and international practice. As the Wandima fellow, I look forward to supporting her practice and vision over this year-long program as she embarks on several new artistic projects.” 

Brisbane Powerhouse and QUT have been partners for well over a decade and in this time, have helped foster artistic talent though various programs. In turn, the Wandima Fellowship was a natural progression to help identify emerging First Nations artists and further connect with First Nations people.  

Angela Leitch, QUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) says, “Ngioka is already a star on the rise with many accomplishments to her name, and I know this opportunity will only help her shine brighter. We are also looking forward to her working with her during the year to inspire and collaborate with QUT students during her fellowship to help to grow our local talent further.”  

We are delighted to welcome Ngioka and her depth of skill into the Brisbane Powerhouse team, further developing her personal creative practice while laying the foundation for specialised support, new professional networks and expanding opportunities. 

Congratulations Ngioka, we cannot wait to accompany you on this special journey. 

Image credit: Top; Ngioka Bunda-Heath. Bottom Left; Toni Janke, Ngioka Bunda-Heath and Angelina Hurley. Bottom Right; Kate Gould, Angela Leitch, Ngioka Bunda-Heath and Professor Lori Lockyer.