Our history

Touch Compass was founded by our Artistic Director Catherine Chappell in 1997; the result of a journey she had unwittingly begun two years before when drama therapist Maxine Axford invited her to choreograph for the Healing Through Arts Trust. Catherine had little idea that this, her first experience of working with people with disabilities, would lead to all kinds of new ventures in the dance world.

Catherine went on to take DanceAbility classes with integrated dance teacher Alito Alessi in Oregon. She also took part in an All Wheels workshop in New York – where participants were either on rollerblades or in wheelchairs. Then, upon returning to New Zealand, she started up her own integrated classes.

Touch Compass was a logical, yet inspired, next step. After presenting its first season in 1997, the company was established as a charitable trust with a board of trustees bringing a wide range of skills and experience – from dance and the performing arts, to business, marketing and communications. The board meets regularly to ensure the Trust is striving to achieve its goals in the best way possible, is assisted by business and legal advisors, and employs a General Manager.

Today the company presents one major season or tour a year and provides professional development for dancers, teachers and students, as well as community classes.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2007, Touch Compass published a book outlining the company’s achievements. Written by Michelle Powles, Touch Compass – Celebrating Integrated Dance can be purchased by contacting us or click the image below.