Ian is a member of the Dharabuladh (Therabluat) clan of the Gundungurra people, & a mixture of Irish heritage. Ian grew up in his cultural country, the Blue Mountains Australia. 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), & 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), & a Masters of Arts from New York University’s (NYU), Steinhardt School of Culture Education & Human Development. At NYU Ian completed an Independent Study & designed a curriculum, through full-time study, coursework & participation with the American Ballet Theatre (America’s National Ballet Company) & 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, & NAISDA Dance College. His formal education & professional experiences around the globe have seen him ascertain expertise to lead, design, organise & deliver exceptional: programs, workshops, resources, syllabus & curriculum to a variety populations & mixed demographics internationally.
For 10 years Ian has been Artistic Director, Producer & Chief Choreographer of Untitled|Collective (U|C) since he founded it in Brisbane with Co-Founder Madeleine Johns in 2008. Under his direction the Collective have been commissioned to create works &/or programs 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) & the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (NYC).
Since 2008 Ian has established the Collective’s national & international partnerships including but not limited to; The Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association (NSW), Gundungurra Tribal Council (NSW), The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre (NSW), Blue Mountains City Council, The Dame Joan Sutherland Centre of Performing Arts (NSW), Dirtyfeet (NSW), Leigh Warren & Dancers (SA), ACPA (QLD), Opera Queensland (QLD), Lara Kramer Danse (Montreal), Alberta Aboriginal Arts (Canada), C. Eule Dance Company (LA), & Insight Dance Company (NYC).
Ian has held three public service roles at Arts NSW (now formally known as Create NSW). Create NSW is the NSW Government's arts policy & funding body who provides advice to the Minister for the Arts. These roles included; Aboriginal Project Officer, Acting Senior Aboriginal Cultural Development Officer & the A/Program Officer Visual Arts, Museums, & Literature. Over the duration of these roles Ian was involved implementing (Stage two) of the NSW Aboriginal Arts & Cultural Strategy (2015 – 2018) into the sector.
In 2008 Ian’s Honours thesis titled ‘Dreaming in Motion’ was published by Edith Cowen University (WA), & is noted in the National Library of Australia. In 2012 he was awarded The Roberta Sykes Scholarship from the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation to study at NYU where he errant his MA & created the ‘Foundations of Lifescape Practice’ as his central thesis. Throughout his academic pursuits he received; The NYU Edna Levine Scholarship (USA), The NYU Barbara Williamson Foley Scholarship (USA), The NYU David & Clara Rothman Scholarship (USA), The Foundation for Young Australians – National Indigenous Youth Leadership Program Tertiary Scholarship & The Commonwealth Learning Scholarship (Australia).