• First Nations dance company, Bangarra will be utilising a virtual platform to showcase their talent. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
With the annual tour put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangarra's 'Bennelong' will be streamed online for everyone to watch.
By
Bernadette Clarke

15 Apr 2020 - 4:44 PM  UPDATED 15 Apr 2020 - 4:48 PM

Thanks to a digital initiative led by the Sydney Opera House, "From Our House to Yours", First Nations performing arts company Bangarra will showcase its powerful dance choreography tonight, April 15 2020. 

Bangarra's regular annual national, regional and International tour has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artistic Director Stephen Page, a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation, said shifting to online is a way to adapt during such unprecedented times.

"We're all just finding ways now to work through this, but we're coping. We've been very fortunate that we could still continue to work," said Mr Page. 

"Bangarra's very lucky, we've been in the industry 30 years. Now we draw on traditions and cultures, and we take that integrity, and we put it in this contemporary space - and this contemporary digital space."

Tonight's performance explores the life of Woollaraware Bennelong. One of history's most iconic Aboriginal figures, Bennelong was a senior man of the Eora people who led his community to survive a clash of cultures.

This will be the first time one of Bangarra's full works will be streamed online, and despite the shift in format, Mr Page hopes that mob will still connect to the story.

"For people to go into the theatre and see a Bangarra work, they're seeing this Indigenous theatrical experience. It's bodies that are choreographed in this contemporary way, yet it's taking on old traditions - in story, in mind, and in body and soul."

"We have costumes, and we have sets, so you have this theatrical experience. When you put that in the medium of film - I hope that the audience do connect to this story."

"This is a bit of a bleak story as well, but at the same time there's a sense of hope there. There's a sense of culture. It's got enough depth in there culturally, I think, for people to feel comforted at this particular time," he said.

Mr Page said that Bangarra would continue to utilise the online world to display Bangarra's creative works.

"Sydney is our biggest season, it's where we reside, it's where our works get told first, and we have a great loyal audience in Sydney. So hopefully we'll be able to supplement that with our digital program that we're going to be putting online soon."

"We do a national tour . So, we just want to make sure that we are able to find the right content that will keep connecting our people out there in the community."

Mr Page said that art is a powerful remedy to help people during these uneasy times.

"Art is a great medicine. When you're in a crisis like this, you've got to find art can be healing, it can be soothing. It can comfort people - many different art forms can do that. Dance is one of them."

Bennelong will stream online tonight at 8PM AEST on Wednesday 15 April here.

Bringing Bangarra's story to the digital realm
Bangarra Dance Theatre is sharing 30 years of performances with the world via a new digital archive.