Emily Cooper

Emily Cooper

Emily Cooper has worked in Community Arts for over 18 years in a diverse range of settings including community development, schools, mental health services, refugee support, team building activities, retreats and festivals. Director of Hands Heart & Feet, Emily brings genuine warmth, inclusivity and creativity to her work with dance, drum, yoga and storytelling. 

Emily has a bachelor's degree in Contemporary Dance from Western Sydney University, from which she graduated with the Deans Medal of Honour. She has studied extensively in New York and Africa. With an early foundation in Classical Ballet, Emily has also completed teacher trainings in Non-Linear Movement, Bollywood Dance, Tribal Bellydance and Yoga. She is currently studying a Master of Social Work at Charles Sturt University. 

Emily has performed and toured in numerous cross-cultural works, as well as directing productions for theatres and festivals.

In her local Blue Mountains community, Emily is known for her joyful, nourishing community drum and dance classes involving a diverse range of ages and abilities. She has also worked in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Bali, Japan and Singapore.


Hands Heart & Feet Origin Story:

Hands Heart & Feet was founded by Emily Cooper and John May in 2005.

For 14 years, Emily and John's combined warmth and passion extended beyond teaching rhythms and dances to build a unique and wonderful community.

Following John's departure from Hands Heart & Feet in 2019, Emily stepped into the role of drum teacher. In her classes, she pays homage to the many gifted drummers and dancers that helped build Hands Heart & Feet, especially the extraordinary contribution of John May.

White man in profile against a black background, playing a metal percussion instrument (hung)
photo taken from behind a man and a woman speaking to a crowd, mostly black with red outline. The woman has feathers and flowers in her hair
photo taken from behind a man and a woman speaking to a crowd, mostly black with red outline. The woman has feathers and flowers in her hair
Woman in elaborate headdress kissing the cheek of another woman in elaborate headdress


Hands Heart & Feet are passionate about creating inclusive, expressive community spaces, where every body is embraced - regardless of age, shape, ability or otherwise. We cultivate an atmosphere that is welcoming, creative and full of joy.

What people are saying...

It is difficult to overstate the benefit that I have derived from my involvement with Hands Heart & Feet. Although I always enjoy the drumming and nonlinear movement immensely what I look forward to the most each week is being with people who have become my dearest friends, which is something I couldn't have expected or hoped for when I tapped my first djembe many years ago. My advice to anyone thinking of joining a class would be to not hesitate, but to be careful - if you let it, HH&F will change your life.

David Taylor

Class participant

Hands Heart & Feet is such a beautiful community, and Emily creates such wonderful classes. Whether it’s dancing, drumming or yoga, her unique teaching style puts everyone at ease, and encourages everybody to go for it. Two of my daughters also do Emily’s dance classes, and one of my greatest joys is sharing this with them - which Emily embraces and encourages so much. We all really love being part of Hands Heart & Feet together.

Miriam Philomena

Class participant

I've been doing Hands, Heart and Feet dance and drum classes for over 10 years. It has become such an important part of my life, not only as a way to keep fit, but to learn about rich cultural practices and to engage with the wonderful Blue Mountains community. Emily brings something to our community that is joyful, inclusive and incredibly unique.
Michelle Barlow

Class participant

Photography Credit:

We want to acknowledge the amazing photographers who have generously allowed us to include their images on this site. The beauty and atmosphere of a Hands Heart & Feet event is transitory, but these images capture and preserve that forever. For their stunning artistry and sensitivity, we want to thank:

David Brazil Photography
Brigitte Grant Photography
Lona Logan: Intertia Photography
Micaela Osfield
David Mapletoft
Oliver Steine
Carly Sare
Black Forest Cherry Photography

Website by Cristie Fuller

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm. Everything dances.” 

Maya Angelou

Brian drumming in Pink Winter Magic