it is impossible to look away
The Australian
a production of hypnotising beauty with its own fresh visual language
Adelaide Sunday Mail
the skill and the individuality of the performers are exciting
Sydney Morning Herald

As you enter the theatre for Skin, you are entering a timeless sacred space. Barely visible in low lighting, a woman and a boy start to unfold a story. This is a point on a journey between two worlds. The mother heart, the bonding spirit of the women in Shelter lay the foundation for the men of Spear to survive.

Shelter  is inspired by the ravishing works of the late Aboriginal artist, Emily Kame Kngwarrye, and  draws on the cultural practices of the women of Australia’s Central Desert and Utopia regions, to create images of extraordinary beauty.

It is an abstract portrayal of the traditional hunting and gathering process, inspired by living off the land. It begins with the women hunting small animals, gathering berries and bush medicines, using the digging sticks to get nutritional roots from the ground.

Mothers and daughters live off the land. A daughter conceives a spirit through the land, and a birthing sequence follows her progress through to the grief of a stillbirth and the cleansing of the spirit that follows.

The modern world invades their lives through mining projects that bring toxic pollution to their desert homeland. Shelter shows how the spirit overcomes this new kind of invasion, a chemical invasion.

Spear marks the first-time collaboration with Bangarra of award-winning indigenous songwriter and performer, Archie Roach. Spear explores the problems Aboriginal men face in urban and remote communities, starting in childhood. Spiritual forces are represented by an elder spirit from a traditional homeland, an urban spirit who has worked through so much that he is cleansed by his own efforts, and a new spirit in the body of a child.

Interlaced with jokes, yarns and songs, a series of social concerns and issues is addressed. The first is Aboriginal deaths in custody, followed by an initiation ceremony for a young man being given his totem. Then the destructive influences of alcohol and petrol sniffing are tackled.

Finally, a male ceremony led by the elder spirit cleanses the effects of these modern influences and the new spirit of the child offers hope for the future.

Choreographer Stephen Page
Music David Page
Set Design Peter England
Costume Design Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Design Karen Norris

Bangarra Dance Theatre – Best New Australian Work, Helpmann Award, 2001
Bangarra Dance Theatre - Best Dance Work, Helpmann Award, 2001