Brisbane-born, and currently Brisbane-based, Yolande is a descendant of the Bidjara Clan, Central Queensland, and is also of Celtic extraction. Reconnecting with her traditional homeland and people and digging her feet into Bidjara earth have been pivotal in her journey to learn more about her ancestry and the rich Indigenous cultures within our great country.
Yolande believes people can achieve what they set their hearts on and that every day can be eye-opening. Prior to her life in the performing arts, Yolande achieved scholarly pursuits. Being one of the top 500 students to graduate high school in Australia, she received the Australian Students’ Prize of Excellence. She then completed her Certificate of Music (Australian Music Examinations Board) in piano performance and her Bachelor of Arts (Dance) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Yolande has been a Guest Lecturer and Choreographer at QUT and University of New South Wales. In 2005, Yolande received the QUT Outstanding Alumni Award for the Creative Industries.
A Bangarra Dancer from 1999-2015, her career highlights are vast and varied, including dancing on Country and forging deep friendships with the Pitjantjatjara and Yolngu people, as well as sharing the dance floor with peers from The Australian Ballet for Rites, Amalgamate and Warumuk — in the dark night. In 2008, Yolande contributed to the development of the role of Lady Jane Franklin in Bangarra’s Mathinna. Yolande was honoured to receive the Deadly Award for Best Dancer in 2010. In 2015, she played ‘Earth Spirit’ in Stephen Page’s feature film, Spear, a highlight for Yolande as she was pregnant with her son during the filming. Imprint was the first work she created for Bangarra as a part of Dance Clan 3. In 2018, Yolande co-choreographed the critically-acclaimed work Dark Emu. Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s book of the same name, it became the most successful production in the history of Bangarra. In 2019, Yolande was excited to choreograph NowHere in collaboration with Caitlin Comerford for Stompin'.
Enjoying a long and extensive career in the performing arts, Yolande has collaborated with some of Australia’s creative leaders including Stephen Page, David Page, Frances Rings and Steve Francis (contributing vocals and piano to numerous Bangarra soundtracks) on Bangarra projects, as well as with Wesley Enoch (Black Cockatoo (Sydney Festival - 2019) and I Am Eora (Sydney Festival - 2012)) and , Meryl Tankard (Kaidan (Sydney Festival - 2007)), Nadia Tass (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (National Tour - 2002-2004) and David Leha (Radical Son).
Yolande is passionate about passing knowledge on to the next generation. On return from maternity leave from her first child, Yolande was excited to have the opportunity to coordinate and curate Bangarra's award-winning, digital platform Knowledge Ground. Yolande has also been instrumental in developing and delivering the company's Winhanga-rra Teachers' Professional Learning Workshops. In 2021, Yolande has been a guest Team Leader for Bangarra's Rekindling Youth Program, in Cunnamulla.
Yolande aims to continue learning about our rich, First Nations cultural history, and inspiring the next generation of storytellers.