The law and lore on show with Sydney’s Bangarra Dance Theatre’s latest show ‘Our Land, People, Stories, is both modern and ancient. It is the artistry the company present their work with which makes it timeless.
In their new, once a year, touring show, this world class national treasure present another vision of being ‘Australian’, told through an elegant and colourful triple bill, with an original musical score. The three works delight and inform, with spectacular set design, costuming, lighting and music.
With their focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts, dance, music and design, the company provide a storytelling like no other, expressed through the language of dance and performance. Specialising in immersive ritual, they take you beyond the textbook and into experience. Bangarra is a 25 year plus cultural institution. This show sees three emerging choreographers present new works tracking the indigenous journey from frontier colonial conflict, to the building of identity in kinship groups, and the leadership of cultural practitioners who pursue their art, such as Northern Territory Telstra Indigenous Art Award-winning painter, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.
As a reframing of the official story, the company restage for their audiences historical moments, such as the 1816 massacre of local tribes in Western Sydney under Governor Macquarie, in their opening piece ‘ Macq’. Across an oversize bureaucratic table we see two men meet- one clad in possum skin, the other in full British regalia. They dance at a distance, across and along the table, as large as all the paperwork that conscribed the native peoples to dispossession.
A Bangarra stage is a dreamscape. It has oversize everyday objects alongside cultural artefacts, presented surreally for the cast to perform with. Giant eucalyptus branches, and bones with feather wings attached, hover above the stage. Facial masks made of twigs and cloth allow everyday bodies to become totemic creatures in Miyagan, a work about the Warudjuri men of NSW. A stage bedecked with such mythic set and props, and the smoking of eucalyptus leaves, create a journey into story that enlivens and educates.
The movement style of the company is earthy, expressive, and unique. Paul Mac’s musical contribution is tribally hypnotic and compels, as does the composition of famed brother creator, David Page. The dancers move solo, in small groups, in duet, and as massed ensemble, just as ancient peoples do when communicating culture to, with, and for their people.
Encounter the stories of this land in a way unique to the first Australians, of the special quality bred in Bangarra’s territory.
Sarah W is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!
A ten show season shows at the Playhouse, Arts Centre, 1-10 September, 8pm Wed-Saturday. Tuesday 6:30pm, Matinees Saturday 2pm. Book Here. This venue is accessible.