|BIOGRAPHY • Francois Awad
Francois Awad was born to a large Lebanese-Australian family in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia, where he was heavily influenced by the rich culture of his heritage. After being enrolled in dance and drama classes at the age of 10, he soon discovered his love for the performing arts and was eventually awarded a scholarship to attend the McDonald Performing Arts College in Sydney. There, he trained under directors and chorographers from the Australian Ballet Company, Sydney Dance Company and international musical theatre productions. During his graduating year, Francois was elected vice captain and his final HSC dance work was selected for the NSW Department of Education’s elite Callback Showcase. He also completed additional training abroad at Broadway Dance Centre, Alvin Ailey USA and Pineapple Dance Studios UK.
As a teenager, Francois was employed in the entertainment department of Sega World Sydney and was selected to be a featured performer in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies (with The Tap Dogs and Kylie Minogue). His performance career then continued with a contract at Fox Studios Australia (with directors Baz Luhrmann and Barry Kosky) and a Star City theatre production featuring illusionist Joe Labero.
In 2000, Francois opened and managed the Dance Intensity training program which was offered in 20 locations throughout Australia and featured an elite faculty including John O’Connell (film choreographer of Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom), William Forsythe (choreographer for Kylie Minogue) and Rob Guest (title role in Phantom of the Opera). He was then invited by artistic director Ria Martins to provide dance training to the cast of Cirque Du Soleil’s Alegria.
After a short break from performing, Francois joined the original Australian cast of Disney’s The Lion King in 2003 for a three year season and a total of 1070 shows. After being selected as the show captain for the cast of 54 performers, he was given the challenging role of rehearsing and maintaining the elaborate choreography and staging of Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor and choreographer Garth Fagan.
Francois then returned to children’s entertainment in 2006 where he was appointed producer and company manager of The Hooley Dooleys. This popular act has appeared in over 10,000 live stage and broadcast performances including DVD distribution contracts with the ABC and Warner Bros. Francois was then subsequently appointed as a producer for Kids in the Park at Sydney Olympic Park.
In 2007, Francois travelled to Europe for two years where he developed training programs at the prestigious Pineapple Dance Studios London and Studio Harmonic Paris. He was then employed as the casting choreographer for the elaborate performance reviews at Benidorm Palace Theatre Spain.
Upon returning to Australia in 2009, Francois collaborated with many well-established performing arts institutions to further develop training and opportunities for young performers. Most notably, he was commissioned by The McDonald Performing Arts College Sydney to produce and manage the Musical Theatre Program which then led to the opening of a second campus in Newcastle. During this time, Francois established The Streaming Dance Company which featured 40 professional and apprentice artists who worked with high profile choreographers including Rafael Bonachela (artistic director of Sydney Dance Company) and Bonnie Lithgoe (So You Think You Can Dance). He was also invited to provide dance technique training to the top 20 dancers of So You Think You Can Dance Australia Season Two (Channel 10).
Over the next few years, Francois found a growing interest for various meditation and wellbeing practices which led him to collaborate with leading figures in the field to develop inspiring personal growth projects. During this time, he worked closely with Jerome Baudel (director of Connecting Light and founder of Ashati) to focus on media and film projects including the short online video series titled Energy, which is centred around natural health and the energetic makeup of the human body. He then went on to develop media and marketing content for Find Peace Now, which was a self-empowerment conference hosted at the University of New South Wales.
Since his initial training in the USA, Francois was motivated to continue travelling to many locations throughout Europe, Asia, The Middle East, Africa and The Pacific. Having had many culturally diverse and at times challenging experiences, he has come to appreciate the complexities of global humanitarian issues. Francois produced a short documentary titled The Orphans of Nepal and worked on a support rally to free Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi which was attended by key political and activist figures.
In 2012 he collaborated with The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) to develop a cross cultural theatre work featuring a group of refugee women from Sierra Leone. This was a ground-breaking program that used a unique creative process to present the heroic true stories of the performers and introduced an innovative approach to healing and self-expression.
Francois has a deep appreciation for creative development and is especially keen to support projects that promote unity through diversity and freedom.