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Shona McCullagh

1975 - 1979

Shona McCullagh MNZOM, is one of New Zealand's outstanding cross platform artists. A choreographer for dance, theatre and film, Shona is also a director, dance filmmaker, educator and kinesthetic visual artist.

Graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1983 as Best All Round Dancer, and with a Special Award in Choreography, Shona was invited to join Sydney based company Darc Swan in 1984, subsequently joining Limbs Dance Company, where she was a dancer, rehearsal director and choreographer from 1985 to 1988. 


In 1987, Shona travelled to the US, England and Canada, performing with Douglas Wright & Dancers in New York. On her return to New Zealand, she was voted 1988's Best Dancer by Metro magazine.  She was a founding member of the Douglas Wright Dance Company and became its Associate Director in 1991, touring to the London Dance Umbrella and the Holland Dance Festival.  Shona has choreographed many successful works for companies such as Limbs, Douglas Wright Dance Company and The Royal New Zealand Ballet.  

She has also created work for theatre, television and film, including sequences for Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring and King Kong and Auckland Theatre Company’s Equus and Sweet Charity.  

In 1992, she formed her own company, The Human Garden, which toured to Chile and was commissioned by the International Festival of the Arts to create a full-length work, Quick, integrating film and live performance.  In 1999, Shona was named a New Zealander of the Year in North & South magazine's feature on "100 New Zealanders Who Made A Difference", and in 2000, she became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to dance.  

Shona's three films have achieved international recognition and unprecedented sales for NZ work featuring dance as a narrative medium.  Her first film, Hurtle, won several international awards, including the Paula Citron Award for Choreography for Camera at the Moving Pictures Festival in Toronto.  Her second film, fly, won the Australasian ReelDance Awards and her third film break won the American Dance on Camera Festival in 2007 and the People’s Choice Award at Reeldance in 2006.  

Shona became a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate in 2002.

A recipient of CNZ’s Senior Choreographic Fellowship, 2007 marked a return to creating full-length works, combining Shona’s love of both film and dance by utilizing interactive software in a piece titled Mondo Nuovo.  

In November 2007 Shona travelled to The Hague as a guest speaker at dancescreen 2007 and in March 08 launched her first installation exhibition at MIC Toi Rerehiko in Auckland.  In July 08 she was a guest at the Era New Horizons Festival in Wroclaw, Poland where her films were showcased and she was commissioned to create a live interactive outdoor performance with Polish and New Zealand dancers. Upon her return the Nelson Arts Festival commissioned Beacon, an interactive transformation of a windmill into a lighthouse.