Video journalist Allan Clarke on the role of Bangarra Dance Theatre.
By
Allan Clarke

Source:
Living Black
26 May 2011 - 10:00 AM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2015 - 2:40 PM

I vividly recall the first time I watched a Bangarra show. 

I remember being riveted by the fusion of traditional Aboriginal with modern dance, watching two very distinct styles being smashed together in a kaleidoscope of moves and grace. 

The whole show dipped in a flurry of cutting edge costume design on a Sydney Opera House stage smattered with rich red ochre. 

It’s not a stretch to say that Bangarra Dance Theatre has revolutionised the way audiences around the world view Indigenous dance.

Much of that success can be attributed to artistic director Stephen Page.

Stephen, alongside brothers David, who creates Bangarra’s mise-en-scène through haunting and evocative soundtracks, and the late Russell, conceived the notion of a dance company over 20 years ago.

Their dea grew into a world class dance company, which has become a stable for some of Australia’s most talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers. 

David says that it was Stephen's drive and determination to revitalise traditional Aboriginal dance that inspired the brothers to success.

Bangarra isn’t only about dance though; its narratives are often peppered with confronting issues that affect the Indigenous community at large, including drug use, incarceration, notions of identity and the stolen generations. 

It’s these storylines that provoke the audience into deep thought about the country they live in. That idea has kept Stephen pushing the boundaries with the intention on generating debate and discussion. All of this proves that dance can be a powerful medium. 

As Stephen celebrates his 20th anniversary with the company we take a look back at some of his landmark shows.