A Celebration Of Disability, Creativity And Culture.


Alter State is a major arts and disability festival engaging artists and audiences from Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Co-founded and presented by Arts Centre Melbourne and Arts Access Victoria, Rodney is an Internationally renowned dancer and performer of Maaori Descent . Rodney has been dancing professionally since becoming a founding member in 1994 of Touch Compass Dance Trust, an integrated dance company based in Auckland, Aotearoa. Rodney acquired his Disability as result of a Motorbike Accident in 1991.

Arts Centre Melbourne is delighted to announce that Arts Access Victoria CEO and Artistic Director Caroline Bowditch will be the Creative Lead for the inaugural Alter State festival. Alter State is a major arts and disability festival engaging artists and audiences from Australia and Aotearoa (NZ). The inaugural festival will be held in late 2022 as a hybrid offering.

This will allow for live performances across Arts Centre Melbourne’s theatres and spaces as well as digital content online. “Alter State will be the most vibrant, hybrid disability arts festival in the southern hemisphere,” Caroline Bowditch said. “For me the real strength of Alter State is that it is disability-led, which I feel is essential. It really sets us up for what happens next in the creative industries.” “The festival will present the most incredible work that has always been out there but hasn’t been known about because it hasn’t been on stages like Arts Centre Melbourne.” Caroline and Arts Access Victoria played a pivotal role in creating Alter State including the digital launch event which occurred in November last year.

Arts Centre Melbourne is also working with three exceptional artists Carly Findlay OAM, Joshua Pether and Rodney Bell. The group have been Foundation Artists for Alter State since November 2019. No Tainui te Waka Tainui is the Waka I descend from No Ngaati Maniapoto te Iwi Maniapoto is the Tribe im from No Motakiora te Maunga Motakiora the Mountain I belong to No Mangaokewa te Awa Mangaokewa the River I belong to Ko Rodney Bell taku Ingoa Rodney Bell is my name.

Rodney actively works not only as an artist but also as an advocator and provocateur, calling for stronger integration and providing voice for people with diverse requirements to have more choice and control over their lives especially Tangata WhaiKaha (Maaori Disabled and their Whaanau – Family). Rodney feels very strongly about making Performance spaces accessible as possible not only physical access but also supporting access for the hearing and sight impaired.

In 2007, he moved to California, U.S.A, to join AXIS Dance Company, winning an Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 2008. In 2011, he was invited as a guest artist to appear with Sonsherée Giles on So You Think You Can Dance America. He also performed with many other independent artists and arts organizations while experiencing years of homelessness on the Streets of San Francisco - Dandelion Dance Theatre Company, Dance Monks, Tango Body San Francisco, Safe House Arts San Francisco. On his return to Aotearoa, he collaborated with the talented artists at Movement of the Human and in collaboration with Artistic Director - Malia Johnston, created and developed Meremere: a powerful autobiographical survival story focussing on his time of living on the streets of San Francisco and dealing with the physical and psychological challenges to survive.

His talent and leadership as a disabled performing artist have won him The Creative New Zealand - Toi Iho Pūmanawa award (lived experience of disability and is making a national or international arts contribution 2020), The Grant Tilly Actor of the Year Award at the Wellington Theatre Awards 2018, Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award 2017 and the Attitude Artistic Achievement Award in 2016.


Rodney is always seeking new ways accessing movement vocabulary in order to express these movements in ways which support the wellbeing of all communities.

Rodney always draws his Mana (Strength) from his Ancestors who sacrificed their lives so his Iwi (tribe) can live with Tikanga (Te Ao Maori World View) Mauri Ora- (Honouring life force)

He waka eke noa Translation: A canoe we are all in with no exception

Alter State Digital Launch Alter State Festival 9 – 13 November 2021 A time to gather, connect and launch Alter State September 2022 A slow experience festival of contemporary art and ideas