• 2016 Helpmann Award winner, dancer Yolanda Lowatta

    2016 Helpmann Award winner, dancer Yolanda Lowatta

  • ACT Minister for the Arts Chris Bourke with Bangarra's Artisitic Director Stephen Page

    ACT Minister for the Arts Chris Bourke with Bangarra's Artisitic Director Stephen Page

  • Keren Nicholson meets her 'snapchat' buddy Luke Currie-Richardson

    Keren Nicholson meets her 'snapchat' buddy Luke Currie-Richardson

  • Naomi Smith and her brother Beau Dean Riley Smith

    Naomi Smith and her brother Beau Dean Riley Smith

  • Choreographer/ Dancer Jasmin Sheppard

    Choreographer/ Dancer Jasmin Sheppard

  • Bangarra's Artistic Director Stephen Page

    Bangarra's Artistic Director Stephen Page

  • Michael McDaniel

    Michael McDaniel

  • Jen Morris and Amera Lennon

    Jen Morris and Amera Lennon

  • Sarina Smith, Stephen Arnott, Juliette Bassington and Lisa Wright

    Sarina Smith, Stephen Arnott, Juliette Bassington and Lisa Wright

  • Julie Ryder and Harriet Elvin

    Julie Ryder and Harriet Elvin

  • Erin Daly and Katherine Adena

    Erin Daly and Katherine Adena

  • Larry King and Mark Blumer

    Larry King and Mark Blumer

  • Paul Donohoe and Sonia Owens

    Paul Donohoe and Sonia Owens

  • Graham and Irene Durant

    Graham and Irene Durant

  • Rachel Evangelou and Lisa Walker

    Rachel Evangelou and Lisa Walker

  • Alison Wright and Daryl West-Moore

    Alison Wright and Daryl West-Moore

  • John Paul Jahnke, Stephen Page and Rebecca Hartnett

    John Paul Jahnke, Stephen Page and Rebecca Hartnett

Bangarra: OUR land people stories

28 July 2016

 

Bangarra is a national treasure. It is the keeper of the encyclopaedia of indigenous stories that provide the beginnings, the ideas, the collaboration and the magic that become the performances,  then the conduit  to us through the talent of their company of dancers, choreographers, set designers, costume creators, unique music and production and direction of international standards.

We can wax lyrical about the great dances of history performed by a Pavlova, Najinsky, Baryshnikov, Nureyev or a Fonteyn. But my respect and admiration goes to names such as, Elma Kris, Waangenga Blanco, Kaine Sultan-Babij, Deborah Brown and 2016 recipient of the Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer, Yolanda Lowatta. The dancers and choreographers of Bangarra who start with an idea, find the seeds of possibilities and together create more than a dance but an experience, a story and a message to make sure we remember a tumultuous history; moments of passion, energy beauty and heartbreak intertwined with an ancient culture and traditions. Not resiling from the unpalatable truths, but dancing the truth we need to know.

There are many more who make up the Bangarra family and for Artistic Director Stephen Page the death of his beautiful brother David Page this year needed to be mentioned for us all to share, feel the pain and remember his extraordinary talent as the magical music master of Bangarra. Memories this opening night brought for Stephen, and which he articulated for us all at the after-party celebration following yet another stellar Bangarra performance of this current program of OUR land people stories.

OUR land people stories is a many faceted production beginning with MACQ, choreographed by Jasmin Sheppard and music by David Page for whom the 2016 national tour of OUR land people stories is dedicated. MACQ is a story of Lachlan Macquarie, the 1816 massacre at Appin and the meticulous research by Sheppard to find the truth of the now 200 year old event brought to the stage. Miyagan created by Beau Dean Riley Smith and Daniel Riley is a Wiradjuri story tracing family history back through the generations and learning of the matrilineal totemic system of five levels: Nation, Moiety, Clan, Family and Individual.

The final production was Nyapanyapa, inspired by a proud Yolngu woman Napanyapa Yunupingu, an artist from North East Arnhem Land. Art is her calling as dance and the creativity he demonstrates is too for Stephen Page who writes that “Dance is medicine, and as we dance as a family, we honour the exceptional legacy left by my big brother, David. And they danced brilliantly as only this family knows how to.