Who we are – Heartdancers



Heartdancers is run by a diverse and dedicated team of leaders, artists, dancers, musicians, educators and storytellers with a shared passion for creating positive social change through the arts. We are committed to advancing cross-cultural artistic dialogue and knowledge sharing through the creation of inclusive and accessible programs, platforms and events. Partner with us as we strive to enhance social cohesion and increase health, wellbeing and learning outcomes for our community.

Heartdancers Board of Directors


Sandra Morales

Executive Director and Co-Founder


Sandra is a culturally diverse arts manager, community engagement and cultural leader. She has developed and managed a wide range of arts, culture and community programs and initiatives in Australia, designing employment opportunities and engagement to over 65 First Nations, refugee and CALD artists and cultural educators. She is a successful cross-cultural leader with a strong background in strategic management, finance, human resources and governance. She has over 12 years of extensive international business management and project leadership experience, operating in multinational environments and cultures across Australia, Singapore, Chile and Colombia managing projects for over $5M.

Patricio Lara

Co-Founder and Mindfulness Champion


Patricio is a musician, songwriter, producer and sound engineer born in Australia to Chilean parents. In 2012 after a year in Chile, recording and producing his first musical project, he released his first album called “Travesia” (Journey). 2014 began to record and produce his second album named “Raices” (Roots). As part of his international career, Pato has been featured at some of the most renowned music venues/festivals across Chile, Australia, Mexico and Indonesia. In 2013, Pato produced his first video clip from his single “Enamorado de la Vida” (In-loved with Life). Pato received the Viva Fiesta Award by Darling Harbour – Fiesta, Sydney in January 2014, in recognition of his contribution to multicultural arts and long standing artistic contribution to the community. With each year and each successive album, Pato's contemplation and adoration of the Great Mother deepens. Interwoven into the fabric of his art are themes of Indigenous wisdom, the call to respect and protect nature, human rights, unity and spiritual awakening. "My dream is to contribute joy and promote unity through my art; to share and celebrate life with people from all cultures and all corners of the planet"

Manuel Re

President


Manuel is passionate about human rights, diversity and always ready to bring people together to learn from new experience and culture. He has worked in the IT sector since the early stage, and he has always pushed to engage diversity in digital and marketing. He believes that only through active listening and servant leadership, the world can become a better place. He is bringing a wealth of experience in IT, Marketing and sales. He has worked with some of the largest media and finance group, and currently as the General Manager of Digital Experience & Innovation of Business Australia. Manuel is always on the lookout for the latest technology that can engage with people and make them understand the world from a different point of view. He believes that greatness is achieved through people working together and believing in a shared dream.

Lina Saenz

Treasurer


With a degree in Finance and International Business and over 12 years experience as an Accountant in the private and NFP sectors, Lina has joined the team as the Treasurer with the purpose of guiding and supporting Heartdancers in all its financial affairs. Lina has had the privilege to witness all the amazing contributions that Heartdancers has given to the community over the years and feels honoured to be part of this whole-hearted family that shares and reciprocates her core values and passion for creating a safe space through the freedom of the arts, where love, respect and acceptance are the base of union and deeper connection. Lina is also a mother of two, a yoga teacher and a woman who loves dancing, going to the beach, playing fetch with her dog and having a fun karaoke night with friends.

Deepa Kartik

Vice-President, Rhythm is Life Program Manager and Cultural Educator


Deepa, a passionate Bharatanatyam dancer and Nrityanjali Title awardee hails from Coimbatore, considered one of the traditional roots of India. She has always identified the art of dance as her companion, healer, and stress-buster. She has also explored the varied art forms including Odissi, Kathak, Salsa, Hip-hop, Zumba, Freestyle dance, Semi-classical Contemporary, body awareness Yoga and different folk dances of India. She has experienced the therapeutic nature of this gifted art form firsthand. Her love for art and the therapeutic effect of dance drew her close to know more about Heartdancers' ‘Rhythm Is Life’ program. From ‘Rhythm is Life’ participant to facilitating Rhythm Is Life sessions at Heartdancers is a huge learning curve. Deepa is also a veteran Software Engineer of 4 years. She is quite passionate about social causes and has volunteered for the Indian NGO ‘Make a Difference’ for 6 years. She is currently Heartdancers' secretary, cultural educator and has performed at various Heartdancers programs and events, including the children's online program developed as a responsive session during COVID-19.

Heartdancers Operations and Creatives


Diana Correa

Marketing Manager


Diana Correa is a Dance Educator, Performer and Marketing expert based in Sydney, Australia. She was born in a small town in Colombia called Madrid, known as Sagasuca to First Nations peoples pre-Spanish colonisation. In 2010, after having established a career in Advertising and Marketing, Diana decided to move to Australia, where her personal creativity continued to blossom, also her passion for the community, arts and culture. Her Experience includes Treehouse Innovation Families, Camp Kiah, Bienestar Familiar (The equivalent of DCJ in Australia), in addition to projects such as Mine Risk Education and community awareness about Indigenous people for the Colombian Government and Swiss Confederation. Well-versed in coordinating events. Experienced account manager. In 2016, she began a two year journey of study at the Australian College of Dance. She enjoys connecting with students and sharing her passion for Colombian folklore and Latin Rhythms. Today, Diana is involved in multiple creative arts projects and events across Sydney. You can find her sharing big smiles with participants in Heartdancer's 'Rhythm Is Life' program for seniors or performing with Sydney-based women's percussion group, Ile Ilu. She continues to write and perform her poetry under her pen name, 'Santa Miloja', where her love of language and storytelling shine through.

Bruno Marion

Digital Creative Director


Bruno Marion is an Audio-Visual Consultant & Designer based in Sydney. He holds a master’s degree in Acoustics and Lighting Design. Bruno is passionate about creating, capturing and enhancing artistic experiences in visual art and sound. As a musician, Bruno’s love of music led to the running of Disc0rdant Studios in 2012 - a live event and corporate video production company. Bruno has led consultancy projects in room acoustics, measurement and design for clients such as Deus ex Machina, ARUP & IDS. In 2016, his love of photography and video production led to commissioned work in portraiture, events and music festivals as well as volunteering of video production and teaching services for Heartdancers Charity. During the COVID-19 pandemic - which has had devastating effects on the arts industry - Bruno worked with Loud Island, a live events and production company in Sydney’s Inner West. As the Director of Photography, Bruno directed a production team in delivering live-streamed music performances and assist musicians to continue to work and perform shows previously intended for international tours.

Carlos Agamez

Visual Arts Educator and Coordinator


Carlos is a Colombian interdisciplinary performance artist. His art reflects the exploration of themes around the idea of home, cultural displacement, the perception of our surroundings, and how one constructs a memory of a space. Carlos strives to make his art relevant to current social issues of identity. Working for Heartdancers for a number of years as an art educator, and coordinating the art activities has given him a wide understanding of the arts and social issues in Australia related with refugees and immigrants. For Carlos, art is a crucial tool for raising awareness of those topics and making them accessible to a larger audience. His performances are inclusive and immersive experiences. Carlos’ works span sculpture, installation, performance and video. Not limited to the confines of the gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through arts education, interventions in urban space, and communities with issues of identity. His work has been deeply inspired by Jungian psychology and his childhood in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Daniela Hernandez

Cultures of the World Program Support



Alessandra Pecci

Partnership Lead


Alessandra brings to the role an eclectic and dynamic mix of both professional background and personal life experiences – currently undertaking her PhD in cultural heritage studies and international relations, she blends research and lecturing expertise in political science, international relations, anthropology, cultural studies, and communications with diplomacy, language-teaching, as well as project and relationship management roles across both private and public sectors, in environmental sustainability/diversity and inclusion, nationally and internationally. Multi-lingual, internationally educated and an avid traveller, Alessandra has a deep appreciation for cultural and linguistic diversity, for the arts and cultural heritage, and thrives in creative, inclusive, collaborative, innovative, and inter-disciplinary professional settings.

Cesar Marin

Children's Orchestra Manager


Cesar began his professional music career in Australia in 1988. After many years performing as a teenager, he went on to study music at the Western Sydney University, graduating with Honours (BAMus). Cesar has toured the world as a multi-instrumentalist for the past 25 years and has been a member of many internationally acclaimed ensembles including: Rhythms of the City (UK), Osvaldo Chacon (Cuba) and Luiz Rico (Bolivia). In 1998, Cesar formed Son Veneno, an Australian based Afro-Latin ensemble that under his direction has gone on to achieve international success for over 20 years. Cesar has vast experience in music and arts management, working in leading music and arts organisations such as Musica Viva and The Song Room, performing and educating young musicians around Australia and has over 15 years’ experience in quality music education working in public and private schools across Sydney.

Nancy Carrasco

Symphony Seeds Program Manager


Nancy’s professional training has been linked to office administration, offshore coordinator programs within the tertiary and corporate educational sector. She has also been in charge of training programs, seminars, events and communication. Nancy has worked on volunteer programs for Oxfam, UNICEF, Latin film festival, Community centres and Indigenous peoples. In 2018 she worked as vice president and grant manager for Heartdancers. She also worked for AUSIT, a non-profit organisation, as a Professional Development Coordinator. Later on, was promoted to the Branch Committee Chair position managing the day-to-day activities of the NSW Branch. She is also a great dance performer and educator and has experience as an assistant in workshops/dance groups, yoga and cultural events.

Jessica Nakakawa

Board Secretary


Jessica is a Psychologist, Social worker and a dancer whom believes that every human being has its own light. She is originally from Mexico; with a spontaneous laugh, patience, and caring personality Jessica has conquered the hearts of all at Heardancers. She was raised by a multicultural family back home, where her parents brought the best from the Mexican and Japanese cultures. Jessica has been working hard to empower others by acknowledging their strengths and encouraging them to move towards difficult times and life challenges. Her interests come from human development, environmental conservation and photography. She migrated to Australia in 2018. Following her career pathway, she has studied her Masters of science coaching psychology and her Master of social work. Apart from enriching her academic experience, Jessica is also an entrepreneur! She has her own coaching and private practice in psychology called “Awaken”, where she strongly: “supports others to discover who they truly are and embrace themselves with love. This includes helping people to overcome limits that may be making it difficult for them to reach their full potential, and to embrace life with gratitude”.
 
 
 
 

Astrid Mendez

Visual Arts Creative


For more than sixteen years Astrid has been artfully weaving her training as a designer with her innermost affection for storytelling, theatre and puppets. Her projects have consistently been the result of her yearning to create and expand her talents, and her commitment has become both a challenge and an outlet; a discipline and a passion. Born in Chilean Patagonia, at a very early age, she identified her interests and abilities for multiple visual art expressions. However, drawing and modelling were two activities that she would persist in doing until present. Any experience can be a source of inspiration for her, and her training as a designer has helped her model and direct her creative processes. In 2006 she obtained her degree as an industrial designer from Universidad de Chile and started a part-time job with a children’s theatre company called La Maleta - a collaborative project that lasted five years. After eight years working in the design industry, she finally decided to take her career to a more artistic and cultural edge. And it is precisely because of this persistence that her first solo performance ‘The Pilgrim’ came into existence during a residency in Chile in 2015. Since its creation, this performance has been presented in several locations in Latin America, Australia and Europe. It has received excellent reviews from audiences and prizes from the festivals jury in Europe. Over the past six years, she has been mainly working on her puppet performance, however she has also been participating in creative projects related to storytelling, illustration, theatre and puppetry in Australia, Europe and South America. One of the theatre projects that she had worked on for the past two years is called ‘War Maker’. This collaboration with the Czech theatre company ‘Dafa Puppets’ is an experimental documentary piece of puppets and object theatre about a Palestinian refugee’s life. It is touring Europe and USA in 2022-23.

Carolina Borda

Photographer


Carolina has always been interested in the arts as an expression of human experience and potential; from a very young age she was fascinated by philosophy, science and the arts and how they all can help us to understand the world around us and our place in this world. In different stages in my life she has been playing with cameras and took photography courses at university. In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she made the decision to make photography an important part of my life and continue developing my skills. She is involved with documenting current social issues through photography, as she see imagery and storytelling as a powerful way to convey messages, raise awareness, educate people and inspire them to take action towards a cause. The styles she focus on are portraits and documentary photography.
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