Our next On The Couch With Christine interview was with the ever so talented STEPHEN PAGE from Bangarra.
Australia’s most successful Indigenous dance company, the critically acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2009 with a national and international program of electrifying and innovative contemporary dance.
To celebrate Bangarra’s 20th Anniversary milestone, Stephen has created a retrospective work called FIRE, featuring the most memorable and compelling elements of the company’s repertoire during its extraordinary 20-year journey. The work traces Bangarra from its modest beginnings to its current status as an enormously respected and lauded dance company around the world.
Visit http://www.bangarra.com.au for more details. Show kicks off in Wollongong on 20th August.
Born in Brisbane, Stephen is a descendant from the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh tribe from southeast Queensland. Stephen danced with the Sydney Dance Company until 1991 when he was appointed Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre. With his works, Praying Mantis Dreaming, Ninni, and Ochres, Stephen established milestones for Australian dance. In 1996, Stephen made his creative debut with The Australian Ballet, choreographing Alchemy. The following year, he brought The Australian Ballet and Bangarra together in Rites, to Stravinskys Rite of Spring. The following year Stephen choreographed Fish for Bangarra, with its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Stephen choreographed the flag handover ceremony for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and co-directed segments of the ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. He also created the ceremony that opened the Olympic Arts Festival. Stephen also choreographed Skin, which premiered at the festival and won the coveted Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work and Best Dance Work. Stephens triple bill Corroboree toured internationally, in a sell-out tour of the US with appearances at BAM in New York and Washingtons Kennedy Centre. This work earned Stephen the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography. The following year, Stephen was honoured with the Matilda Award for his contribution to the arts in Queensland and choreographed Totem for The Australian Ballets principal dancer, Stephen Heathcote. 2002 also saw the world premiere of Bangarras double bill, Walkabout which Stephen co-choreographed with Frances Rings.
Stephen and Frances Rings later co-choreographed Bush for Bangarra that sold out on its Australian tour as well as its 2004 tour to the United States. Also in 2004 Bangarra returned to the Sydney Opera House with another sell-out production co-choreographed by Stephen and Frances, Clan. The following year Stephen choreographed Boomerang for a sell-out Australian tour.
As Artistic Director of the 2004 Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Stephen was praised for reinvigorating the event with an impressive and highly successful world-class program. Stephens film and theatre credits include the contemporary operatic film Black River, numerous music video clips and most recently directing his own brother David Page in the highly acclaimed one-man show Page 8 which toured the UK.
In 2006 Stephen and The Australian Ballet created Gathering, a double bill consisting of a reworked Rites and Amalgamate. Also in 2006, Queensland Art Gallery director asked Stephen to create a new dance work for the opening of the Gallery of Modern Art. Stephen, along with his son and nephews, created Kin, a special project that opened Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.
In 2007 Stephen directed a spectacular traditional smoking ceremony in honour of the historic celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Later this year, during Bangarras True Stories season, Stephen directed Victorian Operas Orphee and Eurydice in Melbourne and presented another sell-out season of Kin at the Malthouse Theatre.
In 2008 Stephen was named NSW Australian of the Year, receiving the award from Deputy Premier John Watkins in a ceremony at the Art Gallery of NSW.
In 2008 Stephen Page created for Bangarra a brand new, full-length work Mathinna (Best Dance Work and Best Choreography 2009 Helpmann Awards); an engaging production inspired by a young Tasmanian girls journey between two cultures.
Later in 2008 Stephen set off for Broome, WA as Choreographer on the film adaptation of Bran Nue Dae.
In 2009, after taking the dancers to Arnhem Land for cultural reconnection, Stephen celebrates Bangarras 20th Anniversary with Fire A Retrospective.