• Yolande Brown, Jasmin Sheppard and Kaine Sultan-Babij

    Yolande Brown, Jasmin Sheppard and Kaine Sultan-Babij

  • Alice Brown and Trish Brown

    Alice Brown and Trish Brown

  • Brett Cashan and Lena Saboisky

    Brett Cashan and Lena Saboisky

  • Lauren Honcope, Ruth Osborne and Gary Barnes

    Lauren Honcope, Ruth Osborne and Gary Barnes

  • Eve, Lookgeaw, Cho and Mieng dancers from Bangkok

    Eve, Lookgeaw, Cho and Mieng dancers from Bangkok

  • Gary Oakley, Carol Cartwright and Louise Douglas

    Gary Oakley, Carol Cartwright and Louise Douglas

  • Jessa Rogers, Anne Martin and John Paul Janke

    Jessa Rogers, Anne Martin and John Paul Janke

  • Larissa Behrendt, Lady Cosgrove and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Rosanna and John Hindmarsh

    Larissa Behrendt, Lady Cosgrove and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Rosanna and John Hindmarsh

  • Leonard Mickelo and Antoinette House

    Leonard Mickelo and Antoinette House

  • Neil Roach and Edna Dundas

    Neil Roach and Edna Dundas

  • Nick Jachno and Jess Hayes

    Nick Jachno and Jess Hayes

  • Thomas Greenfield, Nicola Sabatino, Stephen Page, Waangenga Blanco and Jasmyne Mehrton-Johnson

    Thomas Greenfield, Nicola Sabatino, Stephen Page, Waangenga Blanco and Jasmyne Mehrton-Johnson

  • Tristan Thomas and Emily Forato

    Tristan Thomas and Emily Forato

Bangarra's Patyegarang Opening Night

17 July 2014

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.