Bangarra Dance Theatre’s new residency in Bendigo

Beau Dean Riley Smith stars in Bangarra Dance Theatre's production of Bennelong - photo by Vishal PandeyBangarra Dance Theatre has a new home away from home in Bendigo thanks to a new four-year residency program supported by the Victorian Government.

The program will see the internationally acclaimed, Sydney-based company stage an annual season at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre, including performances, workshops, education programs and community activities.

The four-year program aligns with the 2019 regional tour of Bangarra’s multi-award-winning production Bennelong, with the company travelling to Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory, as part of a five stop tour across Australia through February and March.

Following the extraordinary success of Bennelong’s premiere season in 2017, and a sold-out season at Adelaide Festival in 2018, the production is regarded by many as one of the strongest and most compelling works to have emerged from Bangarra in its 30-year history.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Victorian Government for their support, which will help Bangarra continue our commitment to sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories with communities in regional Victoria,” said Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Executive Director Philippe Magid.

“The Victorian Government has already been a key supporter in this endeavour, most recently enabling Bangarra’s youth outreach program Rekindling to visit Warrnambool, Heywood and Horsham in 2016-2017. Through our current partnership with Creative Victoria, we are bringing past Rekindling students from regional Victoria to Geelong to see Bennelong and take part in a workshop with Bangarra’s dancers, deepening the cultural connection they experienced through the program.”

With the Victorian Government’s support, Bangarra were delighted to bring a number of international presenters and producers from Europe to experience Bennelong in Bendigo; showcasing the region and introducing them to local arts organisations.

“Bangarra is a unique company of performers who bring together authentic First Peoples stories and exceptional contemporary dance in extraordinarily powerful performances,” said Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan. “We’re proud to be supporting Bangarra to come to Bendigo each year, bringing the very best creative and cultural experiences to our region – as well as hosting events to get the community involved.”

Entering its fourth decade in 2019, Bangarra is one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, internationally acclaimed for combining more than 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with powerful contemporary dance, immersive soundscapes, music and design. The 2019 regional tour of Bennelong will kick off the year and the company’s 30th anniversary.

Directed by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page, Bennelong tells the remarkable story of Woollarawarre Bennelong, a senior man of the Eora nation, from the Port Jackson area in Sydney. Bennelong was one of the first Aboriginal men to be taken from his people and, against his initial will, introduced to European ways.

He was a traditional man who became an intermediary between his clan and the colonists, and one of the first Aboriginal people to have their life story recorded and documented through the early diaries of the British military, even travelling to London with Governor Arthur Phillip who ordered his initial capture.

Bennelong showcases outstanding Australian creative talent with Jacob Nash (sets), Jennifer Irwin (costumes), and Nick Schlieper (lighting) bringing their impeccable aesthetic to the production, and Steve Francis (composer) delivering a moving and inventive score.

Bennelong was recently presented at the Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo and Geelong Performing Arts Centre, and will now travel to the West Gippsland Arts Centre, Warragul (2 March); Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs (7 – 9 March); and the Cairns Performing Arts Centre (15 – 16 March). For more information, visit: www.bangarra.com.au for details.

Image: Beau Dean Riley Smith stars in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s production of Bennelong – photo by Vishal Pandey

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