It is the end of an era for Bangarra Dance Theatre, as the company announced that artistic director Stephen Page is set to bring his 32-year tenure to an end, with Kokatha woman Frances Rings taking the helm as the company’s incoming artistic director in 2023.
A descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland, Page was appointed artistic director in 1991, and over more than three decades has cemented Bangarra as a central part of Australia's cultural ecosystem. He has developed an unsurpassed signature body of works that have become milestones in Australian performing arts history, setting a benchmark for storytelling internationally.
Starting as a dancer with Bangarra twelve years ago, Rings has choreographed eight major works for the company to date, firmly establishing herself as one of Australia’s leading choreographers.
“Frances Rings is an exceptional dancer and a gifted and visionary choreographer. Her works for Bangarra, among them the acclaimed Unaipon, Terrain and Sandsong stand as precious works of profound artistic and cultural truth,” said Page.
“I am delighted to now entrust the future of Bangarra to this deeply committed and community-connected cultural leader not only because of her sensational artistry but because her lived experience is that Bangarra is so much more than an arts organisation. Ceremonially I pass her this precious coolamon filled with all our truly unique First Nations dancers and administrators as well as our many valuable non-Indigenous supporters.”
In early 2022, audiences have the opportunity to see Page’s largest major stage work to date as Bangarra’s artistic director, Wudjang: Not The Past, the company’s first collaboration with Sydney Theatre Company as part of Sydney Festival. The company will also embark on a special 10th-anniversary tour of one of Rings’ most lauded works, Terrain, in 2022.