Gudirr Gudirr

Delia Pigram in ‘Gudirr Gudirr’. Photo Heidrun Lohr

Emotive One-Woman Dance Piece at Sydney Opera House

First Nations Culture Explored

Internationally-acclaimed one-woman show Gudirr Gudirr – conceived, co-choreographed and performed by Marrugeku’s Co-Artistic Director, Dalisa Pigram – will be presented in the Sydney Opera House’s Studio this June.

Photo Terry Murphy and Helen Fletcher-Kennedy

Gudirr Gudirr is the warning call of the Guwayi bird, adopted by Pigram as a metaphor for the challenges facing her Kimberley community, including massive industrialisation of ancestral lands, loss of language and major gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous wellbeing. When a warning is heard there are two possible outcomes – act upon it or miss it. To miss the call of the Guwayi bird is to drown.

Drawing on her Indigenous and Malay heritage, Pigram fuses traditional and contemporary dance with Silat (Malaysian martial arts), spoken word and projected text, in a searing performance that lights a path from a broken past to fragile present, and towards an undetermined future. She holds the stage effortlessly with a seamless combination of movement and acrobatics, using a suspended fishing net as a silent partner. Juxtaposed with moments of unbridled joy is a furious monologue both spoken and projected on screen. Pigram’s intensely personal interrogation of her identity as an Aboriginal Australian of diverse cultural heritage also serves as universal commentary on where we are as a larger society.

Sydney Opera House Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO, says: “Gudirr Gudirr is a physically brave piece of dance theatre from one of Australia’s most innovative collaborative theatre companies. Confronting uncomfortable truths, it authors history through a new lens in a thought-provoking and brilliant way.

Photo Heidrun Lohr

Sydney Opera House programming is committed to presenting productions that portray both the joys and challenges of being First Nations. Gudirr Gudirr proves that the world’s oldest living culture continues to evolve in the hands of innovative performers and companies like Marrugeku.”

Pigram conceived and co-choreographed Gudirr Gudirr in a unique collaboration with Belgian choreographer Koen Augustijnen (former lead artist with celebrated Belgian company, les ballets C de la B). Visual artist Vernon Ah Kee – known for his hard-hitting, text-based installations – contributes set and video design that adds another layer of aesthetics to Pigram’s visual, dance-based language.

Gudirr Gudirr’s world premiere at Arts House Melbourne for Dance Massive received considerable critical acclaim, before touring nationally and internationally to Canada, New Caledonia, Scotland, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Sydney Opera House, The Studio
27 – 30 June