David Page – brother of Bangarra Dance Theatre artistic director Stephen Page – was a significant artistic force until his death two years ago. He joined the company in 1991 and defined its musical voice, weaving together song and movement in a sophisticated, original and utterly contemporary fashion. He wrote 27 scores for the company, but that was only the start of his output. Now Bangarra is paying tribute to Page's legacy in this starry performance that brings together several of his passions: classical, electronic and traditional music, cabaret, dance and drag. Composer Iain Grandage has created a score that responds to Page's work, drawing together a string quartet and electronica. Bangarra's dancers will perform to the new score alongside several of Page's collaborators: Archie Roach, Ursula Yovich and Djakapurra Munyarryun. The second part of the performance will recall Page's one-man show, Page 8, which premiered at Belvoir in 2004. Ningali Lawford-Wolf will narrate the story as Ben Graetz performs as his alter ego Miss Ellaneous, joined by members of the Bangarra ensemble. Brendan Boney, who is the David Page Music Fellow for 2018, will play an integral role in bringing all of this together.
Bangarra has a long history of telling the stories of our land to great critical acclaim, from the rich, long history of Indigenous people to our more violent recent past of colonisation. But they also have a mission to bring those stories back to Country – to the land that inspired them. That's why they're staging a free performance of Jasmin Sheppard's Macq at the Campbelltown Arts Centre's amphitheatre. There'll be free community performances and a BBQ from 4.30pm with a sunset performance of Macq at 7pm. The work tells the history of the Dharawal people at the start of the 1800s, who were devastated by the Appin Massacre, under the direction of Governor Macquarie. In our four-star review of the initial Sydney season of Macq, we wrote: "With its electronic pulse and its stylised, contemporary look, Macq often feels more like Akram Khan than a Bangarra heartland piece – which is intended neither as praise nor criticism. This is a stunning work that adds an interesting flavour to the program as a whole, and which, in presenting a part of the Australian story that has been historically painted over, contains imagery that burns itself into the audience’s mind."
Sydney’s beloved harbourside landmark will be transformed into a massive dancefloor for a free weekend event in November. This nation-wide Indigenous dance competition celebrates long-standing cultural traditions and welcomes performers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across Australia. Dancers from across Australia, dressed in traditional skin markings, will present three choreographed numbers including a welcome and farewell dance, and a freestyle piece. Dance groups compete for a grand prize of $20,000 and a chance to perform at next year’s Dance Rites. Last year, the event has attracted over 300 performers from across 21 nations and 31 clan groups.
When the Australian Ballet’s Spartacus toured America in 1990, it nearly brought New York to a standstill. Crowds in Times Square stopped to gawp at the giant poster of leather-clad dancer Steven Heathcote as the rebellious gladiator, while at ground level promoters were kept busy replacing posters stolen by overeager fans overnight. The tour was a triumph. Fast forward to 2018 and principal dancer Kevin Jackson is taking on the role in a new version of Spartacus created by former company dancer and NIDA-trained director Lucas Jervies. And the leather harness is nowhere to be seen. Composed in 1954 by the Russian-Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, the story is based on the historical figure of Spartacus, an enslaved gladiator who led a rebellion against the tyrannical Roman commander Crassus in the first century BC. Traditionally, it’s been a vehicle for a company’s male dancers to step out from behind the ballerinas and take a well-earned place on centre stage. Read our interview with Kevin Jackson about taking on the role.