about us

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Emily Cooper is a classically trained dancer with a Bachelor of Performance Theory and Practice (majoring in Contemporary Dance - UWS), which she graduated from with the Dean’s Medal of Honour. She has studied Traditional West African Dance in America, received a scholarship from Blue Mountains City Council to further her studies in West Africa, and has also studied extensively with the West African Community in Australia. After undergoing an ACL knee reconstruction, Emily found that yoga became an invaluable part of her rehabilitation and she subsequently became a qualified yoga instructor. Emily is also a passionate teacher, and in her local Blue Mountains community, she is well known for her joyful community classes, done to live music, involving a diverse range of students of all ages and abilities.

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John May
Musician and storyteller, John May has a Bachelor of Education, and has worked extensively in education, community and corporate arenas. John has studied West African percussion extensively with the African community in Australia, and has also travelled to Guinea in West Africa to deepen his understanding of the style he loves so much. John is a unique, humorous and much-loved teacher. In his local Blue Mountains community, he is well known for his high level of musicianship as well as the playful, fun spirit he brings to all his classes and community activities.

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Hands, Heart & Feet is an entity that grew organically out of the high-spirited drum and dance classes being held in the Blue Mountains with John May and Emily Cooper. The full tribe consists of over 100 drummers and dancers, who play together in weekly Hands, Heart & Feet classes, and perform on a spectacular scale at festivals such as Winter Magic and Banquet of Dreams. There is also a core group of about 20 exceptional Hands, Heart & Feet percussionists and dancers that frequently perform and run workshops at a variety of festivals and events.

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Hands, Heart & Feet are very active in the Blue Mountains community and surrounding areas: teaching in schools, running evening community classes, supporting numerous fundraisers and festivals, as well as hosting a number of community events during the year.

Recent notable Hands, Heart & Feet performances include: The Sydney West African Festival, Peats Ridge Festival, Winter Magic Festival, The Half Girl & The River (touring schools and festivals in 2011/2012), Calabash (official selection for the 2012 Sydney Fringe Festival), Intertwine - Birds of Paradise (presented at Blacktown Arts Center, 2012), Intertwine (official selection of the 2010 Sydney Fringe Festival), The Firebird (presented at The Carriage Works and touring major Western Sydney venues), The Singapore International Storytelling Festival in Singapore, as well as numerous street parades and festivals.