Elma was raised on (Waiben) of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. Her clan is from the North Western and Central Islands of the Torres Strait.
Elma has had a rich and rewarding career as a dancer, choreographer, actor and teacher. She studied at NAISDA and first danced with Bangarra in 1997, as well as forming her own dance group Bibir and dancing with the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre Company before joining Bangarra full-time in 1999.
Her many choreographic credits include Bupau Ipikazil and Bupau Mabigal (NAISDA, 1994)Malu (Bibir dance company, 1998), the Torres Strait Island element of the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony (2000), Emeret Lu (Bangarra, True Stories, 2007; named Best New Work in 2007 Dance Australia Critic’s Survey) and About (Bangarra, Belong, 2011).
Elma’s film credits include Oscar and Lucinda, Reef Dreaming, Farscape and the ABC radio broadcast Not Your Mob Next Door.
In 2007 Elma won a Deadly Award for Dancer of the Year and in 2008 performed the title role in Mathinna.
She has performed in both Bangarra’s 20th and 25th anniversary programs, as well as on numerous international tours. In 2013 she was invited to undertake a Visiting Fellowship with the Australian National University.
In 2015 Elma danced pivotal roles in both I.B.I.S and Sheoak as part of the lore double bill, and alsoperformed in the 21st anniversary season of Ochres. Elma was one of five Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artists invited to create a response to a number of objects taken during colonisation and on display at the British Museum, for an exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra called Unsettled.