30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand Celebrates Culture and Storytelling in Contemporary Dance
Triple Bill | June 13 – July 13
Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand is Bangarra Dance Theatre’s landmark 30th anniversary season. This diverse program of three contemporary works displays the passionate storytelling, rich artistry and deep community connections that have made Bangarra the premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts company in Australia.
Frances Rings’ Unaipon is an absorbing portrait of the great Aboriginal inventor, philosopher, writer and storyteller, Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon, who features on the Australian $50 note. Stamping Ground was created by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián as an homage to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their cultures. Curated by Artistic Director Stephen Page, to make fire highlights the breadth, power and beauty of Bangarra’s creations over three decades.
With roots in the world’s oldest continuing culture, Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand carries the spirit of Bangarra into its fourth decade, promising many more years of deeply moving and authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories.
Inventor, author, philosopher, visionary. Unaipon is Frances Rings’ monumental 2004 work about the man on the Australian $50 note. Born on a South Australian mission in the late 19th century, David Unaipon was a proud Ngarrindjeri man, a Christian, and a scholar of science and culture. Unaipon tells of his advocacy for better treatment of Aboriginal Australians, and his staunch belief that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people could coexist as equals, despite the incredible challenges he faced in his lifetime. Through Rings’ modern, propulsive choreography, performed to a powerful score by David Page, dancers trace the themes and preoccupations of David Unaipon’s vibrant intellect: the secret of perpetual motion, the philosophy of human existence, religion, power, and man’s relationship to land. Against a devastating background of destructive government policies, Unaipon’s proud Warrawaldi heritage shines forth as he reconciles a changing world while holding strong the customs and traditions of his people.
For the first time in the company’s history, Bangarra presents a work created beyond Australian shores. Stamping Ground is the work of renowned Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, inspired by his 1980 visit to Groote Eylandt, north east of Arnhem Land, when he attended the largest recorded dance gathering of Aboriginal people – a week-long corroboree where 1,000 men, women and children came from across Australia to dance, sing and share their culture. In 1983, Kylián created Stamping Ground for the Nederlands Dance Theater.
Kylián’s startlingly original dance vocabulary pays tribute to the essence of Indigenous dance traditions, which have been vital to the continuation of culture for thousands of years. As Bangarra dancers recreate Kylián’s steps with their own style and sensibility, Stamping Ground continues its creation cycle by returning to the culture and the land that gave it life.
to make fire
to make fire celebrates 30 years of original Bangarra creations with memorable moments from the company’s repertoire, curated by Artistic Director and Choreographer Stephen Page. Spanning Australian history from pre-contact times to contemporary life, these stories speak of traditional ceremonies and practices, great artists and leaders, land and Country, loss, survival and hope.
In thirty years the company has celebrated the power, strength and beauty of Indigenous Australians, never shying from the devastating impact of colonisation, yet always celebrating the continuation of the oldest surviving culture on this planet.
Each of the works in this retrospective has its origins on Country, and Bangarra acknowledges the generosity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia who have shared their stories with the company over the past three decades. Connections to these communities are at the heart of the company’s work and continue to nourish Bangarra’s spirit as it enters the next decade.