Directed by Artistic Director Stephen Page, who has choreographed the 70-minute work with long-time Bangarra dancers and collaborators Yolande Brown and Daniel Riley, Dark Emu is inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book of the same name.
Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? had a huge impact when it was published in 2014; it was a monumental work of scholarship that disproved the long-held myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were nomadic hunter gatherers before European colonisation.
“The stain is deep in our chalk and until we can accept what the explorers saw as part of the national story, our debate of national origins, character and attributes is hobbled by ignorance,” says Bruce Pascoe.
Exploring the vital life force of flora and fauna with a focus on Yuin Nation stories, songs and language, this highly anticipated production is Page’s 25th work for Bangarra.
Page said Dark Emu was a creative and emotional response to Pascoe’s non-fiction account of the sophisticated farming, fishing and land care practices used by Aboriginal people across the continent before the disruption of European settlement.
“We want to make people aware of the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people and celebrate their profound knowledge of agriculture and aquaculture, which belongs at the epicentre of Australian history.” says Stephen Page.
Through a series of interconnected dance stories set in four distinct worlds, Dark Emu conveys the devastating assault on land, people, spirit and knowledge experienced by First Nations Peoples.
The stunning production highlights the reciprocal and interconnected relationship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the environment, beautifully emulating agricultural practices from grain production, to a Bogong Moth harvest to weaving fish traps with stones.
Dark Emu come to Arts Centre Melbourne following standing ovations and five-star reviews at its world premiere season at Sydney Opera House, and recent performances at the Canberra Theatre Centre, the State Theatre Centre of WA and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Soon to enter its third decade, Bangarra Dance Theatre 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.
Artistic Director: Stephen Page Choreographers: Stephen Page, Daniel Riley, Yolande Brown, and the dancers of Bangarra Dance Theatre Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin Set Design: Jacob Nash Composer: Steve Francis Lighting Designer: Sian James-Holland Dramaturg: Alana Valentine Original Author: Bruce Pascoe
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 6 – 15 September 2018
Image: Yolanda Lowatta, Rika Hamaguchi, Daniel Riley and Tyrel Dulvarie – photo by Daniel Boud