Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates 30th anniversary season
In 2019, Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates its 30th anniversary season with Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand at Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Playhouse from 23 to 31 August 2019.
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.
Now entering its fourth decade and presenting in partnership with QPAC for more than 20 years, the company will deliver a unique three-part program comprising Frances Rings’ Unaipon, Jiří Kylián’s Stamping Ground and Stephen Page’s to make fire. Rings’ Unaipon (Clan, 2004), will be restaged to mark this anniversary in recognition of the talent that has come through the company.
Celebrating the journey of David Unaipon (1872-1967) from the shores of Lake Alexandrina within the Ngarrindjeri nation to his place on the Australian fifty-dollar note, Unaipon is an exploration of a man fascinated with science and the great philosophies and cultures of the world.
Through her own unique language, Rings has choreographed 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 humans.
Testament to the strength of the company in this milestone year, for the first time Bangarra will present the work of an international guest artist with Czech choreographer Kylián’s Stamping Ground.
In 1980, Kylián – who was then Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater – attended a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, North East Arnhem Land. The experience led to the creation of one of Kylián’s defining ballets, which was last performed in Australia by Nederlands Dans Theater in 1986.
Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page said he has long wanted to remount these works and believed the prospect of two worlds coming together with Stamping Ground was 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 Artistic Director of 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,” said Mr Page.
“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.”
Rounding out the program, the company will perform a collection of dance stories from the company’s 30-year history in to make fire. Curated by Page and Bangarra’s Head of Design Jacob Nash, the performance draws on stories and songlines from all over Australia. QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the season was also monumental for the Centre.
“This significant anniversary for Bangarra has brought to the fore many fond memories among QPAC staff – including myself – who have worked with and witnessed the company over the years; from its premiere of Fish all the way back in 1998, to last year’s groundbreaking presentation of Dark Emu,” Mr Kotzas said.
“Stephen and the company have transformed the way a lot of Australians connect with our First Nations culture and we are honoured to be part of that journey by presenting Bangarra’s works for the past 21 years.”
QPAC and Bangarra Dance Theatre Present Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand. Friday 23 August to Saturday 31 August, Playhouse, QPAC, Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank, Brisbane