In September 2014, Bangarra Dance Theatre will commence its largest ever regional tour of Australia as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. Read more.
September 10, 2014
September 10, 2014
In September 2014, Bangarra Dance Theatre will commence its largest ever regional tour of Australia as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. Read more.
February 25, 2014
Tickets for our new production Patyegarang choreographed by Stephen Page are now on sale in all venues that are part of the 2014 national tour: Sydney Opera House, Canberra Theatre Centre, State Theatre Centre WA Perth, QPAC Brisbane and Arts Centre Melbourne. Come behind-the-scenes of our studio through this video clip and find out more about Patyegarang.
October 4, 2013
Dancers and crew arrived back onto a sunny wharf last week after having a weeks rest from gallivanting all about Victoria and Tasmania. Our Kinship tour was a great success, with many full houses and inspired feedback from theatregoers. Our last stop was the Theatre Royal in Hobart, one of the oldest and most splendid theatres in the country. In addition to performing in such a grand space, we spent our spare time traversing the pretty town, and driving through Tasmania’s lush countryside. In passing Oyster Cove one day, I was transported back to a few years ago, when we brought the Mathinna story back to country in Hobart. The local community in Hobart were overjoyed to have us back, and the touching memories of connecting with mob were revived when we saw them all again. Every time I go to Tasmania I am inspired by the community. They are a strong, resilient and proud people, fighting for the future of their culture every day. We were blessed to teach a large portion of the kids some workshops, and I very nearly broke into tears after one girl, about 14, welcomed us onto her ancestor’s land with a self written and moving welcome. I heard the pride and the tenderness toward her ancestral country, and throughout the rest of the workshop continued to be awe inspired watching the next generation of Tasmanian Aborigines working hard, staying strong and knowing who they are, where they come from, and excited about their future. The community in Tasmania has a lot to teach us all about perseverance and pride, and holding onto the precious thing that sometimes we can take for granted; Culture.
Image: Jasmin Sheppard and Hobart workshop participants 2013, photo by Tiffany Parker
July 2, 2013
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.
June 11, 2013
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.
Image: Jasmin Sheppard, Yearning from Blak 2013, photo by Greg Barrett
May 15, 2013
April 19, 2013
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!
Image: Stephen Page and artists rehearsing Blak, photo Greg Barrett
April 11, 2013
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.
Image: Jasmin Sheppard in Blak rehearsals photo Greg Barrett
November 28, 2012
Here we are on Wiradjuri country at last, bringing Riley home and sharing our work with the mob out here. How special it is to be tracing the trails of song lines through places like Bathurst, Orange, Albury and now Wagga Wagga. So far I’ve learnt the correct pronunciation of Bangarra from a woman who speaks Wiradjuri fluently, and have listened to stories that trace Wiradjuri song lines right through New South Wales and connect with other tribal groups right down as far as Nowra. The company are waiting to exhale with four remaining performances for the year. Not because we dislike what we do, but because our bodies are holding on by a thread. I recently heard that Bangarra may have done more performances this year than any dance company as small as us, and our bodies are feeling it! My back has begun to succumb to the weight of carrying our giant Cooloomun prop, a sign that the end of the year is drawing near and a rest for my body is just what I, and the whole company (crew included!) need. However, my minor back problem did lead me to a nurturing acupuncturist who not only gave my back some much needed TLC, but also put me on the road to other ways to take care of my body as a whole. When your body is your livelihood, it is important to take care and respect the whole thing….the insides and the outside. So in this sense, a negative has led me to a positive! So onward we go, gaining strength from our art, and of course from the beautiful Elders that welcome us onto their land with incredible warmth!
November 21, 2012
The West Australian leg of the of earth & sky regional tour is done and dusted. We don’t often have the chance to make the lengthy journey to the other side of the country to dance for the West. Although the entire team continued to battle through more injuries and sicknesses, we put on a few deadly shows in Mandurah, Geraldton, Bunbury and Albany. What a welcome we did receive from our Nyoongar brothers and sisters in every district. Our arrival in each town was anticipated, and the warmth was so heartening. I always forget how far WA is, and at times it felt like we were in a different country, battling mild jet lag and being woken at 5 or 6 am by eastern coast callers, thinking it was a godly hour to call (well it was by western standard time!). Teaching workshops to local kids, and adults for that matter, is always a highlight, and lifts our spirits even when our bodies are struggling to push through the last couple of months of a long and busy year. It is energising to experience the enthusiasm of young budding dancers, and we were especially touched by older dancers also eagerly hanging on our every word and giving of their spirits in our workshop in Albany. The company continues to miss our dearly loved dancers Daniel Riley and Yolande Brown as they recuperate from their injuries in Sydney. Sadly they won’t be dancing with us for the remaining 7 shows. Our Wiradjuri brother Daniel will meet us in Dubbo, but we are all itching for him to be with us in our entire NSW tour, as we tour Wiradjuri country performing Riley, our tribute to Wiradjuri artist Michael Riley. I personally feel very honoured to be bringing this work back to country, and I look forward to meeting community and discovering more of Wiradjuri culture along the way. This will surely enrich my performance in Riley.
October 31, 2012
Our time back in Sydney has been far too short, as we just begin to settle again into a routine of coming and going from our homes, working in our beautiful studios complete with perfect view of the Harbour Bridge and blue waters. With all minds focusing on the goal, we have remounted our 2010 show, of earth & sky with as little stress as possible. I personally think that blue skies and warm days assist in a light and carefree attitude! Over a fortnight we have rearranged the show as one of our female dancers has gone on to other creative pursuits. We have worked around injuries, sicknesses and (personally) too many appointments to mention. And here we are, on the plane to Perth to begin our regional tour of WA and NSW. It’s almost as if the entire company has turned into a flowing stream, curving around any boulders that obstruct the path, and pulling along anything we need to get through the fortnight amongst our current. As summer begins it brings with it lightness, positivity, and fresh creativity. I must say that in 2010 I thoroughly enjoyed performing this show, and I’m excited to be revisiting it again. Bon Voyage once more Bangarra!
October 16, 2012
Along with our tour to Brisbane came the first truly warm weather most of us have had for a while. I cherished the warm days walking to the theatre, sweating it out in class during our closing week of TERRAIN. After a long season, we pressed on and gave our most for the final week of transporting ourselves onstage to desert salt pans. I personally treasured the chance to perform for a lot of my own family, including my grandmother who turned 90 during the week. We have been given a week off after closing night, and my plan is to travel to the Gulf of Carpentaria to finally visit her place of birth, home lands of my ancestors, the Tagalaka and Walangama people. Whilst performing Reborn for the last time, as I poured the white sand through my fingers and into my palms, I imagined what I might be seeing for the first time in the week to follow. What colour would the earth be? How thick would the bush be as I scanned the horizon? Who would I meet there? And as I felt the energy of the three men dancing behind me and with me, I imagined the spirits of my great grandmother and my great grandfather watching me as I traversed homelands for the first time.
September 17, 2012
From Maree to Mongolia via our national capital. That’s been our schedule for the past two weeks and the week coming up. On Saturday we closed our season in Canberra. I have a deep connection to Canberra as I consider it my home town. I don’t have family there anymore, but a few close friends still live there and it’s where my relationship with dance started. A relationship that continues to bloom and blossom with the years. We were all freshly invigorated and re-inspired after our visit out to Lake Eyre last week. After we closed in Adelaide, we boarded a plane to Olympic Dam, then drove two and a half hours on dirt roads to Maree, where we met up with our cultural consultant for TERRAIN, Uncle Reg Dodd. He lives in Maree and runs tours out to the lake, where he tells Aboriginal stories of the lake and it’s surrounding areas. We were very lucky to have him impart his plethora of knowledge on us. It was so inspiring to see and hear him be so utterly involved and knowledgeable of his culture and roots.
The lake itself was beautiful and mystical. As we stepped out onto the earth surrounding the lake, with the sound of crunching salt beneath our shoes, we knew there was something special about this place. The energy and feel of the area with its colourful land made it feel slightly surreal. There was such a stillness or even a sacredness about it. Walking the shores of the lake I gained new inspiration for some of the choreography I perform. The first being Salt, where I represent the salt spirit of the lake and Kaine as my shadow. The salt formations made such beautiful patterns on the earth and sparkled under the sunlight. The crunching of the salt and the crystallised formations it made reminded me of the first passage of choreography where the movement is sharp, angular and twitchy. The salt also made me think of my costume for that section, which is a bolero jacket covered in triangles to make it look as though i have just rose from the salt planes of Lake Eyre and my upper body is crystallised in salt.
While we were out in Maree we conducted workshops for the local community kids from Maree Aboriginal School. As with most workshops we conduct the kids are always a little hesitant one the first day. They try to wrap their head around having to learn choreography and count music, and it sometime seems as though they aren’t having fun, that its work. But a mutual respect was gained by the second day and a lot of fun was had by all. The choreography they learned on the first day seemed to sink deeper into their memories over night, and they seemed to be absorbing more information. To end the workshops we put together everything they had learned as a little performance for some of the community members and local elders to come watch and see what we had all been working so hard so. Tara G, Jasmin, Ella, Amy, Lenny, Waangenga, Kaine and myself felt so fortunate to be able to be apart of the Maree community for those four days. It is such beautiful country out there, the sun rises and sun sets were unlike any I had seen either here in Australia or abroad. We were super proud of the kids and their accomplishments and we hope they take their experience with us into their future.
Now…back to Sydney, for a little under forty eight hours, as early Monday morning we are all convening at the international airport for our trip to Mongolia, via an overnight stop in Hong Kong. This trip seems like it was never going to happen and it has been in the back of our minds, until now. With little time at home, we are thinking about what needs to be packed and what needs to be bought before our trip, and organise our home lives before venturing overseas. Excitement has started to creep up on us, and we are looking forward to the adventure we are about undertake.
I had a great conversation with a gentleman at the pub in Maree. He said he was proud of us as a company and the way we represent our country, land and culture. First of all I was so surprised that he had heard of us, but he later told me he had seen a show when he was in the city once and has since watched all our YouTube videos. So safe to say he was up to date with our performance programs. I’ll end with what I told him as we were saying our farewells. We don’t take what we do, what and who we represent lightly. We are well aware how important our work overseas is, and are always sure to give Australia good representation, both on stage and off.
Daniel Riley McKinley
September 4, 2012
It’s a rather balmy day today, and I’m staring out the wide windows of Adelaide airport out to the greyish blue hue of the hills contemplating the few days that are ahead of us. We are shortly going to board our plane to Lake Eyre, and drive to Maree amongst hot dry earth and quiet bush to teach mob some dance workshops. This is a trip that will surely revive, rejuvenate and heal all of us after a wildly busy couple of months. Our season here in Adelaide was received so warmly and we cherished the full houses, thunderous applause and welcoming community. Bringing TERRAIN back to the state of whence its stories came was special, particularly for Frances, as she is SA born and bred, and has a special connection to South Australia. As does Kaine Sultan-Babij, a Whyalla boy who was so thrilled to be performing for his family for the first time with Bangarra in SA. The haunting energy of Her Majesty’s Theatre, in its 99th year of existence, created an atmosphere of mystery. We shuffled around backstage spreading clouds of drying ochre up and down the old creaking staircases, the wood bending beneath our footsteps. The season brought me a renewed appreciation of being a performing artist, that’s certain!
August 29, 2012
Adelaide, or Radelaide or A-Town. It’s known by a lot of other names I’m sure. But here we are, bumping into the beautiful old Her Majesty’s Theatre. We have performed in this theatre once before in 2008 when we were regionally touring True Stories. It’s a great theatre with a lot of character, and it always makes for an interesting time getting used to the smaller stage, but it is a treat to look out into the auditorium, with its great chandelier. It’s also great for us to be able to share this work with its home audience, as Frances gained her inspiration from the Arabunna people of South Australia, and their land.
Yolande, Ella, Jhuny and myself conducted a masterclass today at the Adelaide College of the Arts for some dance students there and some high school students from a local school. It’s always such a pleasure to teach and help in the education of students who are choosing to take dance on as a career. I remember being a university student – in their shoes – and being so hungry for other information along with new and different styles and techniques. They were so welcoming and so open to anything and everything we had to say. It was really refreshing to teach them and hopefully give them some more inspiration to get through their training. University can be such a struggle and uphill battle, it feels like some days you’re not going anywhere, you don’t feel the advancement of your own personal technique, like you’re a mouse in a wheel. But once you’re out, and free to go where you choose, train with who you choose, you’ll notice it, and it will be a comfort to know that you have it in your back pocket should you need it. Thank you students at A.C. Arts, you all inspired me today.
Daniel Riley McKinley
August 23, 2012
The traveling begins today. As we sit here in our Murrays coach on our way to Wollongong, there’s a feeling of mixed emotions. It feels great to say goodbye to the Opera House for another year but it’s always hard to say goodbye to loved ones and our familiar surroundings of home for unfamiliar hotel rooms and other cities that we don’t know as well as our own. Most of us have been to Wollongong before, every year for the past 7 or more years, so it’s not totally unfamiliar. We know where to get our morning coffee, where Woolworths is, what the fastest route to the theatre is, and where to find dinner after the show comes down at night.
There’s an unsettled feeling that circulates through the company once we start on the road. We’re always looking forward to the next venue, knowing that we are only in Wollongong for three nights before we head home for two sleeps in our apartments or houses, with our loved ones, in our beds, under our sheets, eating out of our bowls over breakfast at our tables. It’s this familiarity that we miss the most while we are away, sharing our work with other audiences. On the other hand we are very lucky to be able to see the places we do, and share our work with our fans elsewhere. We just have to learn to look at the glass as half full, rather than half empty.
Daniel Riley McKinley
August 20, 2012
It’s our last Opera House performance of TERRAIN tonight, and the final night of what has been an epic month of shows, Spirit rehearsals for Mongolia, vaccination appointments, and photo shoots. In the midst of all this, we have been endeavouring to keep strong bodies, calm minds and rested souls. Between matinees we sneak midday siestas in the green room, we relish our short but sweet massage and physio appointments, and anticipate the end of yet another big week with good food and company. I’ve found it to be testing performing and rehearsing after my dreaded appointments with dr Pollack of the travel vaccination clinic. Being someone with a sensitive stomach, I dragged myself to the pathology clinic for my initial blood test, and was quite impressed at how pain and stress free it turned out. The following week, however, after two vaccination needles in each deltoid, I had to apologise to my ballet teacher for my comical inability to raise my arms any higher that 45 degrees! That night’s show was a push as I tried to ignore the ache in my arms, but with little time to prepare for a tour to Mongolia, there were not a lot of options! We all pushed through, and the company even got through a short bout of Gastro and a few minor injuries, but here we are, ready to perform one last time for Sydney! We’ll give it every last bit of juice before a few much needed days of rest, then do it all again for Wollongong.
August 2, 2012
Revisiting older repertoire is always a great way to fully appreciate where Bangarra as a company has come from. I remember learning most of Bangarra’s history when we were putting together Fire – A Retrospective. Familiarising myself with this choreography was a great way to really understand and appreciate the development of this one-of-a-kind company that I am a part of. Before we head over to perform at the Opera House each day, we are spending time relearning and revisiting some of our favourite pieces of repertoire for our upcoming international tour to Mongolia. Most of the pieces come back to us quite quickly – we have performed the choreography numerous times and all we may need is to watch it on DVD then a quick listen of the soundtrack, and we are eighty percent there. Teaching the older repertoire to some of our newer dancers also aids the rest of us to remember how steps changed and evolved the last time we performed them. I enjoy teaching the work and passing down all I have learned to those men. There is something so satisfying in watching someone you have taught, move and execute choreography well. It shows that they really are taking in everything you say, and that I can deliver technique, tips, tricks, and the steps verbally and be understood. They are doing so well learning in the short amount of time we have. I hope they retain everything long enough so they can in turn teach it.
Every now and then Bangarra gets approached to perform at an awards ceremony, a national holiday concert, or more recently a corporate awards ceremony. The gig was for Microsoft and was an awards ceremony where young computer programmers from around the world competed to design and create programs for any number of things. Waangenga, Jhuny and myself performed a shortened version of Black, which heralds back from Ochres. This piece is perhaps my favourite piece of Bangarra’s choreographic repertoire to perform. I never tire of it, and thoroughly enjoy revisiting it. It’s like a favourite t-shirt or a tailored suit: it just fits perfectly and feels so right.
Daniel Riley McKinley
July 31, 2012
We are well into the swing of things at the Opera House, and now that opening night of TERRAIN is done, I feel like I can relax into the show and begin to play around with my stories and dynamics within the pieces I’m in, to make my performance really grow. Back at the Wharf, as we dancers basked in the lights of stage, our team were confirming a quick tour to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. So it’s official. We are heading to Mongolia, a country I have wanted to visit since primary school, and we’ll be dancing there! As exciting as this all is, this means we have to get busy. Barely two days out from our hectic production week and our schedule is jam packed with rehearsals for Mongolia. We come in early, warm up then switch our muscle memories on to bring back our work Spirit. Some pieces are as simple as letting the music play whilst we let our physical bodies take over, relaying the movement as precisely as if we had performed it yesterday. Now that’s quite an unusual experience. We push through the week like a train with a heavy load. We are tired, and need to do our best not to let TERRAIN suffer as a result of our extra rehearsals. We regain energy and spirit for each performance by stepping into another existence once we’ve painted up and put our costumes on. This is the important part of a busy day; telling our story to the public. Here we go again! Chookas all round for another show!
July 13, 2012
Rest days. Time off. Four words that are greatly welcomed at the end of a performance season. Especially our premiere season in Melbourne, from where we have just returned.
After two weeks away from home, long hours in the theatre, and ten performances, all our bodies are craving, is time off and away from the stage and dancing. The first season is always the most difficult, in both body and mind. Our bodies are adjusting to a new show, to new repertoire and to new daily challenges. New bruises develop, and soreness and tiredness sets in to new and different muscles. There is a new discovery of having to come up with new ways to prep our bodies before each show, as each show is a different physical challenge from the last. During the season our minds continued to adjust to locking in the new show and finding ways to deliver the show at our peak performance levels for the next three months. Finding the nuances both big and small and allowing our bodies to really sink into the movement is what the first season is all about. What movement can we push further and what do we have to pull back to enhance the work are questions that were continually answered during Melbourne. Figuring out how to maintain our bodies during the season was also something that needed to be discovered whilst we were in Melbourne, and is something that we will continue to explore once at the Sydney Opera House next week.
Daniel Riley McKinley
July 5, 2012
TERRAIN opening night, after much preparation, was a great success. Back stage the dancers felt high levels of nervous energy, uncertain anticipation, and moments of quiet concentration. There’s always a lot to process on the eve of a world premiere. I don’t think I was the only one to take time out to picture in my mind the great expanse and curious moods of Lake Eyre. We have had the privilege to have a local elder from Lake Eyre come to watch our interpretation of the incredible landscape, and just knowing that we have his blessing to go out and portray an image of his traditional land is really quite special. I think it has given all of us an extra push of encouragement. As I pinned in the spindly arms of my spinifex headpiece I imagined the dry wick of lonely gums by the lake, awaiting the first drink of water for the season. The lake provides so much visual inspiration that it becomes easy to disappear into a different world and landscape onstage. The performance went by so quickly and I must say that I am going to treasure the experience of performing TERRAIN every night.
June 28, 2012
And that’s our first dress rehearsal done and dusted. It feels good to know we have a show to present, with all the elements working. They may not be working as one yet, but that will come over the next few days leading up to our opening night on Friday. There is something about the use of the ochre, and paint in TERRAIN, and all other Bangarra shows actually, that add and extra layer of character to a performance. Whenever that layer of ochre or paint is applied, you lose yourself underneath it. It becomes your second skin for the show, an alter ego almost, where you can get lost in the character and the movement. If you’re feeling a little slack or tired, that layer of paint can help you step up and tackle the show with all you have. It’s our superhero suit and our layer of story and character we add before each performance.