Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates its landmark 30th anniversary season this year with Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand; a stunning display of contemporary dance embarking on the company’s largest national tour from June to October.
Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand is a three-part program, combining a re-staging of Frances Rings’ monumental Unaipon (Clan, 2004), Stamping Ground by acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and a powerful collection of dance stories – to make fire – from the company’s 30-year history curated by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design, Jacob Nash.
These works will be performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia, who come together as a creative clan to harness a shared spirit and deliver a program representative of the world’s stage and the company’s best work.
Unaipon is an exhilarating exploration of David Unaipon’s (1872-1967) remarkable journey from the shores of Lake Alexandrina within the Ngarrindjeri nation, and his passion for science and the great philosophies and cultures of the world. Choreographer Frances Rings uses her unique language to present a rich dance portrait of the man who made the connection between aerodynamics and the flight pattern of the boomerang, and between his own cultural traditions and those of all men.
Jiří Kylián’s Stamping Ground will see Bangarra present the work of an international guest artist for the first time in the company’s history. In 1980, Kylián, then Artistic Director for the Nederlands Dans Theater, attended a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clans on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, North East Arnhem Land. His experience led to the creation of one of Kylián’s defining ballets which was last performed in Australia by Nederlands Dans Theater in 1986.
Rounding out the Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand – to make fire – is curated by Bangarra Artistic Director, Stephen Page and Bangarra’s Head of Design Jacob Nash, and draws on stories and songlines from all over Australia. It is a celebration of the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, embracing the diversity and inspiration that comes from our connection to Country.
Page has long wanted to remount these works and believes the prospect of two worlds coming together with Stamping Ground is an exciting one.
“Jiří and Fran are two wonderful creators, and our 30th program is the perfect time to share these stories. I commissioned Fran to create Unaipon back in 2004 when I was the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival. It was her first major full work; a story of her own Country and people – her sister Gina, also Bangarra alumni, had shared the story with Fran and supported her in the creation of this work”.
“The idea of Stamping Ground coming back to the culture that blew the first breath into it is quite amazing and something that likely won’t happen again. When I first heard of Jiří’s work in Australia in 1984-1985, something resonated with me. I was still studying at NAISDA, pre-Bangarra, and knew that something like this had never happened before. The choreography will be challenging, as our dancers will need to bring their own spirit to the story and connect with Jiří’s vision and impressions”.
As Australia’s only major performing arts company with its origins in the land, Bangarra is inspired by 65,000 years of culture and the continual evolution of Indigenous storytelling. Under the inspirational and award- winning direction of Stephen Page, Bangarra strives to share and maintain the cultural integrity and spirit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions, combining it with contemporary expressions of dance and music.
Tickets online through ptt.wa.gov.au or phone 6212 9292 or from Perth Theatre Trust Box Offices.