Please note: Some of the content on this page was published prior to the launch of Creative Australia and references the Australia Council. Read more.

Ian RT Colless: First Nations Capacity Building Project Officer



Ian is a from the Dharabuladh (Therabluat) clan of the Gundungurra people, and a mixture of Irish and Walsh heritage. He is the Grandson of the late Aunty Dawn Colless who made many milestones, awarded the Australian Centenary Medal (a Federal award to honour people who have made a contribution to Australian society or government), and chosen to be a torchbearer for the 2000, XXVII Olympiad in the Blue Mountains.

Ian is a graduate of Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (NHSPA). He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Creative Industries. A Bachelor of Arts (1st Class Honours) from Edith Cowan University’s, Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA), and a Masters of Arts from New York University’s (NYU), Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development. At NYU Ian completed an Independent Study and designed a curriculum, through full-time study, coursework and participation with the American Ballet Theatre (America’s National Ballet Company) and observation of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (NYC).

Ian has taught at NYU, QUT, WAAPA, Aboriginal Centre of Performing Arts (ACPA), The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney Dance Company Pre-Professional Year, and NAISDA Dance College. His formal education and professional experiences around the globe have seen him ascertain expertise to lead, design, organise and deliver exceptional: programs, workshops, resources, syllabus and curriculum to a variety populations and mixed demographics internationally.

Ian has held three public service roles at Arts NSW (now formally known as Create NSW). Over the duration of these roles Ian was involved implementing (Stage Two) of the NSW Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Strategy (2015 – 2018) into the sector.

As a choreographer Ian has been commissioned to create works at; the Alvin Ailey American Citigroup Theatre (NYC), La MaMa Moves Dance Festival (Broadway, NYC), The Queens Fringe Festival (NYC), Summer Stage Central Park (NYC), The Australian Consulate (NYC), National Dance Week (NYC), Peri Dance Showcase (NYC), The Australian Embassy Washington (DC), New York University (NYC), The RUBABOO Arts Festival hosted in collaboration with Alberta Aboriginal Arts (Canada), Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences; Powerhouse (NSW), The Official Opening of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Centre (NSW), NAIDOC Week (NSW), The Brisbane Festival’s ‘Indigenous Closing Ceremony’ (QLD), Link Dance Company (WA), NAISDA Dance College (NSW) and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (NYC).

Learn more about the Custodianship Program.