Following its world premiere in Sydney and sell-out seasons across the country, Bangarra’s new triple-bill, OUR land people stories, opens at Arts Centre Melbourne for a limited season from 1 September 2016.
Featuring works by Artistic Director Stephen Page and trio Jasmin Sheppard, Beau Dean Riley Smith and Daniel Riley, the multi-layered experience sheds light on Australia’s history through contemporary dance, striking costumes, visual art and vibrant soundscapes.
Celebrating spirit, resilience and strength, the final season of the national tour in Melbourne highlights a significant time for Bangarra, who have recently received four Helpmann Awards and eight Australian Dance Award nominations. Artistic Director Stephen Page marks his 25th anniversary as Artistic Director of the company with both the 2016 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award & JC Williamson Award, recognised for his continuous contribution to the enrichment of Australia’s live performance culture.
“It’s so exciting to be on this bill with three artists who have been nurtured right here in our own backyard – they are the next generation of cultural leaders,” says Page. “I’ve always said that, along with community relationships, it’s the dancers who inspire our stories, and it’s their heritage, their experience, their families and where they come from that permeate our productions; that’s where the heart and spirit comes into it and why our productions are so unique and moving.”
Page’s work Nyapanyapa is inspired by the life story and paintings of internationally acclaimed visual artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu from North East Arnhem Land. Page has long admired Nyapanyapa’s paintings – one of her works depicting being attacked by a buffalo won her the 2008 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award – and her latest series of artworks depicting dancing girls sparked the idea for this creative exchange.
Elma Kris, who has been dancing with the company for 17 years, plays the role of Nyapanyapa. Composer Steve Francis, who has previously created scores for ten Bangarra productions, has collaborated with Stephen in creating a vivid soundscape.
Choreographer Jasmin Sheppard, a Melbourne local who grew up in Frankston, brings Macq (first performed in 2013 during Dance Clan 3) to the main stage. Macq explores the 1816 March of Macquarie on its 200th anniversary – a historical chapter that decimated Sydney’s Aboriginal community.
Many landmarks in Australia are named after Lachlan Macquarie, but who was he is the question posed by Sheppard. Passionate and political, it’s a work that serves as an enlightening history lesson for many unaware of this brutal encounter. David Page composed the music for Macq in 2013.
Beau Dean Riley Smith and Daniel Riley created Miyagan (“our family”, pronounced Me-ya-gun) together, a poignant dance story mapping their cultural heritage from Wiradjuri country in New South Wales. Related by a great-great grandfather, the Riley’s got to know each other – and their family history – while dancing together at Bangarra.
Miyagan explores the Aboriginal kinship system (the complex familial ties between clans) and their meaning to communities and to their own family tree. Blak composer Paul Mac, a Helpmann and ARIA award winner, has created the music for this work, his second for Bangarra.
Resident designer Jacob Nash has designed inspiring sets for each work in the triple bill, complimented with costumes by Jennifer Irwin and lighting by Matt Cox.
OUR land people stories
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 1 – 10 September 2016
Image: Bangarra Dance Theatre’s OUR land people stories (Nyapanyapa) – photo by Jhuny Boy-Borja