Over the past week, the Australian arts industry has recognised the outstanding artistic achievements of Bangarra Dance Theatre and its artists, with four awards across the Helpmanns, Australian Arts in Asia Awards and last night’s Australian Dance Awards.
On Monday July 29 2013, Bangarra Dance Theatre received two Helpmann Awards at the prestigious Sydney Opera House ceremony. Dancer Deborah Brown was awarded the Helpmann for Best Female Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre work for her performance in the 2012 work Terrain. Terrain also received the Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work. Artist-in-residence David Page was also nominated for Best Original Score for Terrain.
On Thursday August 1 2013, the inaugural Australian Arts in Asia Awards took place at Luna Park in Sydney, recognising Australian artists who have engaged with Asia and who have contributed to strengthening cultural links between Australia and Asia. Bangarra Dance Theatre performed at the ceremony and received the inaugural Australian Art in Asia Award in the Dance category for their production Spirit and its recent tours to Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam. Bangarra shared this award with Annalouise Paul for Game On.
Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page said, “These awards are a wonderful affirmation for the company that we are achieving artistic excellence while we pursue the equally important role of building connections. Whether Bangarra is performing on stage at the Sydney Opera House or a theatre in regional Victoria, running an indigenous youth workshop in remote New South Wales or presenting a performance for brand new audiences in Vietnam, the high quality of our work is what helps create meaningful engagement. During our recent South Asian tour of Spirit, audiences were fascinated by Bangarra’s fusion of traditional culture with modern dance theatre. There was an instant connection with the spiritual, grounded nature of Bangarra’s work and they understood the story-telling that strongly influences our productions.’
Last night the annual Australian Dance Awards took place in Canberra. Shane Carroll one of Australia’s most outstanding contributors to dance received the Services to Dance Award. Over the last two years Shane Carroll has overseen the development and implementation of Bangarra’s new youth program Rekindling, designed to connect Aboriginal young people with their culture through story-telling and dance. Rekindling has been successfully established in four communities across New South Wales during 2013 and planning is underway for further communities in New South Wales as well as Queensland next year. Ms Carroll’s expertise has also been felt by independent Aboriginal artists working with an important sector capacity building program supported by Bangarra and the NSW Government Birrang – expanding Aboriginal dance horizons in NSW.
CEO Catherine Baldwin says, “Bangarra recognises the valuable insights and knowledge Ms Carroll brings to these innovative initiatives, working with artists to deliver significant benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Both Birrang and Rekindling programs provide opportunities for dancers to build resilience that supports their professional career development.”
Bangarra Dance Theatre is Australia’s premier national Indigenous performing arts company. Under the brilliant and inspirational artistic direction of Stephen Page, Bangarra has strived to maintain the cultural integrity and spirit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tradition, combining it with contemporary expressions of stories, dance and music to create unique theatrical experiences, and to deliver these experiences to audiences across Australia and around the world.