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THOMAS FONUA

Dancer

Born and raised in New Zealand, Thomas is of Indigenous Samoan/Tongan descent. He started dancing at the age of seven and at 16 was offered a two-year apprenticeship with Black Grace Dance Company. This led to a full-time position, completing his formal training and later performing as a leading part of the ensemble touring numerous works through Europe, Asia, North America and Canada.

In 2010, he was invited to The Banff Centre to take part as a dancer in the Indigenous Dance Residency. He was then invited back and given the opportunity to be a part of a pilot program designed for dancers with high leadership and choreographic ability called the ‘Merit Dancer Program’. Following the success of the program Thomas became a faculty member, assisting in mentoring, choreographing and dancing with professional dancers of Indigenous heritage from all over the world.

Thomas has choreographed work for The Indigenous Dance Residencies productions Backbone and TRACE, The Banff Centre’s Midsummer Gala and Red Sky Performance’s inSIGNia.

Thomas has worked for Red Sky Performance in Canada on productions Migration (2011) and inSIGNia (2013) and has been touring internationally since the age of 16.

In 2014, Thomas joined Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) as a guest artist for the Indonesian tour of Be Your Self. Soon after, he joined the professional ensemble where he made his Adelaide debut in the return season of Proximity.

In 2015, he performed in the Australian national tour of Be Your Self. He also founded the ‘Ia Manuia’ initiative, focussing on the slogan – ‘Pay. It. Forward.’ with the vision to give back to his Pacific community and create opportunities for young members. His work, MALAGA, was performed at the Q Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand as part of the TEMPO Dance Festival. Conceived, choreographed and directed by Thomas, the work features himself and the dancers of ADT.

In 2016, Thomas performed in the world premiere season of Habitus at the Adelaide Festival as well as part one of The Beginning of Nature at WOMADelaide. Later that year, he performed in the Australian premiere season of Objekt and was a featured choreographer and dancer in ADT’s return season of Ignition, where he presented an excerpt from MALAGA titled The Village. Following the season, he was nominated for the Critics Circle award for Best Emerging Artist in Choreography.

In 2017, Thomas performed in Garry Stewart’s Doppelganger, a piece featured as part of the exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia – Versus Rodin: bodies across space and time, followed by the Melbourne premiere season of Be Your Self and the Australian national tour of Be Your Self Redux. Later that year he performed in the premiere season of The Beginning of Nature in Colombia, South America.

In 2018, Thomas performed in the Australian national tour of The Beginning of Nature and international tour throughout Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

In 2019, Thomas performed The Beginning of Nature at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York. Following the season, he took part in the development of a new work by Garry Stewart, Supernature as part of the Pillow Lab program in Jacob’s Pillow, Massachusetts.

Outside of ADT, Thomas competed and won DragNational Australia under his alter ego, Kween Kong. He also established the ‘Haus Of Kong’, a small business designed to create windows of opportunities for the SA LGBTQIA+ communities. Kween Kong also made some very special appearances as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, performing alongside Maggie Beer and Julia Zamero in The Liner Notes live show, The Blues Brothers. Kween Kong also made a guest appearance with Maude Davey in My Life In The Nude and performed with Hans (Matt Gilbertson) as part of The House Of Hans. He was also announced the Out For Australia’s 30 under 30 leadership award, which recognises young leaders across the country who are demonstrating strong leadership capacity in their selected fields.

Recently Thomas received support from the Scratch Festival at Griffin Theatre in Sydney to start development on his new work FAFA, a duo, physical-theatre work the examines the third gender in pacific culture and dissects patriarchy, gender roles and the ideology of the ‘two-spirited’ people in world indigenous mythology.

Thomas is currently touring in WA with independent maker – Natalie Allen, in her work A Night Out.