August 13, 2014

Bangarra Australian Dance Award Nominees 2014

Bangarra artists Deborah Brown and Waangenga Blanco have both been shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award! Deborah has been nominated in the category ‘Outstanding Performance by a  Female Dancer’ for Brolga and Waangenga has been nominated in the category ‘Outstanding Performance by a  Male Dancer’ for Blak. See the full list of nominees on the Ausdance NSW website HERE.

Deborah Brown & Waangenga Blanco, Australian Dance Award nominees 2014

Deborah Brown & Waangenga Blanco, Australian Dance Award nominees 2014

May 14, 2014

Bangarra Dance Theatre 2013 Annual Report

We’re pleased to share our 2013 Annual Report with you – now available for viewing and download online HERE.

Experience 2013 as it was for Bangarra in this 8 minute video clip tracking the major events for the Company throughout the year. From Vietnam to Arnhem Land, the Sydney Opera House and Theatre Royal in Tasmania, here is a snapshot.

August 2, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: Our ‘Blak’ Journey

So our Blak journey has come to a close, for now. We concluded this wonderful season in Brisbane, home city to many of the dancers and our dear Artistic Director, and also home to family and friends of us all. It became quite poignant performing such personal stories to the ones who know us best; family, and this is what makes Bangarra such an important company. A sense of family is a constant thread woven through our expression of culture, the stories we tell, our respect for one another, and our desire to move with our people into the future whilst respecting where we have come from as Indigenous people. This is the strong basis of our dancing, and the driving inspiration to continue to work hard at our technique and to show up every day with the aim to improve and evolve. This strong tie is what gives us the inspiration to push further even though our bodies may feel tired or injured, and even when we would love to have a few extra hours sleep. The response from Brisbane audiences reiterated to us that our personal stories have rich meaning, and when we perform a story from our hearts and personal experience, you can move people, create change, provoke thought and inspire. I think our entire season of Blak achieved this.

So now we are back in our studios on the Wharf, where we are rehearsing and turning our focus toward our regional program, Kinship. A culmination of two works, Brolga, and ID, the shift in focus brings us new inspiration as we say goodbye for now to Blak, and the fantastic journey that it took us on.

Jasmin Sheppard

Image: Jasmin Sheppard 2013, photo by: Greg Barrett

July 2, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: Sydney comes to a close

The Sydney Opera House season has come to a close. Over the past three weeks we have been blessed with almost all of our shows sold out, including the twilight 6.30pm shows on a Tuesday. What passionately dedicated audiences we have had! And what encouragement we have felt as a company, that even though the drab, wet and cold weather has not deterred people from braving the elements to enjoy our stories. Blak has been so far described as a breath of fresh air, a moment gone too fast, but a lesson in being in the present moment, a personal journey, a witness to a tightly knit family of dancers and their stories, a passionate experience. From my experience in performing Blak, I feel overwhelmed that our vision and desire to move people through our personal stories has been more than successful. There truly is a lot of ‘us’ in this show. Together with the genius of Stephen Page and Daniel Riley McKinley, I believe we have achieved our goal with the show; to touch people, to give them a glimpse of what it is like for us in our every day lives finding ourselves as men, women, Indigenous people, people of the city, with origins from all over the country (remote places and highly populated places) and the issues that we face in finding our identity through such colourful backgrounds. These stories are just a fragment of what young Indigenous people of this country face, but I do hope they have shed light on us, the next generation of Indigenous youth.

Jasmin Sheppard

June 11, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: ‘Blak’ in Sydney

The Bangarra dancers have just emerged from two weeks back home in our little creative cave, the studios on the wharf, where we have had the much needed time to pay attention to our bodies, regaining strength and energy, and resting those parts of the body affected by repetitive strain. We also had the pleasure of changing our focus to the regional tour program Kinship, rehearsing Brolga undergoing some sort of metamorphosis, melting into a flock of birds. The process is treasured especially by those of us who have birds as traditional totems, mine is the black cockatoo so to be a bird must be deep within me somewhere!

We spent most mornings running Blak, and I found that running the show repetitively but without performance quality made me focus more on my execution of the movements. In addition, the extra time out of the theatre encouraged most of us to spend extra time strengthening and stretching our bodies, giving that never ending reach for perfection in technique a little attention. I must say that Robert Curran, with his wealth of ballet knowledge, and general understanding of the body, has prompted a physical change in all of us – we are on the road to a better understanding of our dancing bodies!

The focus shifted last week, however, as we prepared for the Sydney opening night last Friday. We are back at the Opera House and the familiarity is wonderful. We settle in, and sink back into our Opera House routine. It is very special to perform to Sydney city, the town that has been home to the company since its birth. So it’s heads down tails up as we work hard to make Blak a beautiful soul experience for our audiences at the Drama Theatre.

Jasmin Sheppard 

Image: Jasmin Sheppard, Yearning from Blak 2013, photo by Greg Barrett

May 20, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: ‘Blak’ from Melbourne to Wollongong

Blak was entirely fresh and raw when we opened in Melbourne, but although we felt incredibly nervous, our audience was more than supportive and encouraging.

When we finally perform the premier of any show, it’s akin to an enormous exhale after holding one’s breath for weeks on end. The night before had a little more comfort to offer us in our state of anxiety; Koorie Community Night in Melbourne!! The familiar faces and unconditional love of our mob gave us the extra push to get us through till the last dance on opening night. And the show is definitely up and running now! Like a baby it grows, evolves, changes, and feels more settled into life on the stage after birth. We have a lengthy season ahead of us, and thus I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to see where I can go within this work.

Deep in thought the other day I pondered on the time when I performed in smaller scale productions and only had one or two week long seasons. It was the ultimate ideal (and still is) to have the show at its very best from the first performance. Though we strive for that now, I get a chance to discover what is possible for Blak. We have just arrived in Wollongong and here is our new chance to grow along with Blak. Time to hone in on rehabilitation for bodies that are now rested and recovering from injuries, and time to give to the wonderful crowds here in the ‘Gong…always a pleasure to be at IPAC!

                                                                                                                 Jasmin Sheppard

Image: Jasmin Sheppard in Yearning from Blak 2013, photo by Greg Barrett

 

May 20, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: Opening Night Nerves

I sat sweltering in the oddly summery Sydney weather as the sun’s rays were magnified through the floor to ceiling windows of Qantas domestic airport. I had shed a few layers of clothing to cope with the heat, but knew that when I disembarked in Melbourne I’d have to replace the layers and brave the crispy southern wind that blows right to your bones. I am a Melbournite by origin so I packed my woollies and my good spirits for the week, and the premiere of Blak at the Arts Centre.

A week before leaving for Melbourne our stress levels were through the roof. We had so much yet to choreograph, and my brainpower was beginning to wilt. By the last Saturday however, we had finished choreographing the last parts of the show and, with little if not any hiccups, we satisfied our worries by doing a complete run of the show. So much can change with a few days! I had been losing sleep with anxiety, trying to hold on to that faith and trust in my choreographers that I spoke of in my last entry, but it was fading with my own doubts and my failing mental capacity to retain choreography! After our first full run, I was filled with a renewed positive outlook. I should have taken my own advice – trusted that is would all come together in the end, because it did.

We had a huge week ahead of us, but the stress of long hours and nervousness I felt for opening night couldn’t swamp my excitement for performing a show that I truly believe in!

                                                                                                                 Jasmin Sheppard

May 13, 2013

Dance workshops on tour

 

We wanted to share this great photo of our artists with students from Reservoir High School, Princess Hill Secondary College and Northern College of the Arts and Technology at their workshop at the Arts Centre Melbourne last week. The Company is currently on the road to Wollongong where they have 3 performances of Blak this weekend. You can book tickets for Wollongong here: http://merrigong.com.au/shows/blak.html

April 19, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: The Creative Journey

                                                                                                      

Men and women reunite! Together again in the one studio, Bangarra are once again an entirety. How lovely it is to be fusing our polar opposite energies and begin to work in a team.

We still haven’t seen the men’s work Scar, and they haven’t seen ours Yearning, and I must say that I really can’t wait to see what they’ve been working on! But there’s plenty of time for that. We are two weeks out from the premiere of Blak in my own hometown of Melbourne.

A tension creeps through the air, a common thought, that, with about two weeks till opening night, and a fair amount to choreograph as of yet, will we get it all done in time? Will we be ready to share this story with confidence to our Melbourne audiences? Though not always shared openly, I know this worry plagues a good majority of us!

Things do however, as the cliché goes, come together in the end, and this point in the creative process comes for all dancers. It’s a time when you must return to that ultimate trust in your choreographer, which I have entirely in Stephen, and in Dan. All throughout the creation of a work, that trust enables me to create and contribute, even when I’m unsure of the direction the work is going in. That trust in a choreographer is why I chose this company to begin with. And why I know we will arrive at completion. So I’m putting the energy out there into the studio…it will all come together in the end!

                                                                                                            Jasmin Sheppard

Image: Stephen Page and artists rehearsing Blak, photo Greg Barrett

April 11, 2013

Dancers’ Blog: ‘Blak’ in Progress

Although it’s Autumn, I’m still sweating such a great deal throughout my day that one would think it is still the depths of Summer. Is it due to the unusually pleasant weather? Or is it that we are plunging all our energy, physical and emotional, into our creative workshopping of Blak? Perhaps a little of option A and B.

We are in the thick of developing the new work. I treasure the creative development process, it is constant food for the mind, and provides new challenges for our muscles.  Men and women have been separated into two different rooms for the creation of the first two parts of Blak. After almost 5 weeks of segregation into a men’s camp and a women’s camp, it seems as though the boys are getting more boyish and the girls are getting girlier. I’m uncertain if that is fact, but it’s definitely feeling as such!

Our strenuous ballet classes bring us altogether under the watchful eye of our dedicated Rehearsal Director, Robert Curran (affectionately known by his full name at work also). His wealth of ballet knowledge is giving us a strong base with which to then thrash about, or languidly melt into our familiar contemporary style. Excitement abounds in the Bangarra studios as we discover more of what Blak is, and will be.

                                                                                                              Jasmin Sheppard

Image: Jasmin Sheppard in Blak rehearsals photo Greg Barrett

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