Bangarra's Patyegarang Opening NightShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
Bangarra’s opening night of Patyegarang was a modern day telling of a love story from a time when our first contact had a scintilla of hope for mutual respect, promise of understanding and willingness to learn from each other. It is a true story elicited from the notebooks of the colony’s time-keeper, Lieutenant William Dawes, and his relationship with Patyegerang an Eora woman realized in dance by our pre-eminent indigenous contemporary dance company.
What a triumph it is for Bangarra. One of their best and there’s been plenty of ‘bests’, but this takes storytelling into a new kind of ‘dreaming’ as an integral part of the whole first contact stories and an evocative and emotional depiction from an intelligent perspective. Stephen Page as Artistic Director and choreographer is the centrifugal force for this work bringing together the elements of a written story, finding the spiritual and physical essence to translate it to the bodies, the sound, movement and talent of Bangarra’s dancers and the production team.
Guest dancer Thomas Greenfield as William Dawes brings his formidable list of disciplines to the role while the featherlight physicality of Jasmin Sheppard as Patyegarang is perfect.
Canberra audiences love Bangarra and happily huddled together in this full house of devotees who braved the night’s freeze to be rewarded. Distinguished guests on their first official visit to the Canberra Theatre were the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove hosted by John Hindmarsh chair of the Cultural Facilities Corporation and Rosanna Hindmarsh with Larissa Behrendt chair of the Board of Bangarra. There was a little ‘oops’ moment when a couple happily sitting in their VIP seats waiting for the Ten Tenors had to be quietly told that they were in the wrong seats and the wrong theatre. I’m sure the Cosgroves would have happily shared if the couple decided to stay.
Resilience is the final scene of Patyegarang with a strong reminder that it “Always was, always will be, our land” in the program notes and a favourite trio of Jasmin Sheppard, Waangenga Blanco and the doyenne of Bangarra Elma Kris performing. Once again Bangarra makes you stop and think, change your perspective and learn from the stories they tell.
At the Canberra Theatre until 19 July.