DanceHouse, in partnership with Dancers of Damelahamid, launches its exhilarating 2019/20 season with Australia’s acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theatre in the Canadian Premiere of Spirit, October 25 & 26, 2019 at 8pm at the Vancouver Playhouse. Choreographed by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page and former Assistant Artistic Director Bernadette Walong-Sene, the retrospective piece is a visionary fusion of nine of the company’s celebrated Indigenous and contemporary works that boldly bridge past and present. Bangarra Dance Theatre has an authentic style of totemic storytelling reflecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities — tracing the unbroken connection between people, the land, and creation itself. Established in 1989, the cutting-edge company has played a critical role in the resurgence of traditional dance expressions.
Spirit draws from the multi award-winning company’s most celebrated repertoire. Hailed as “a landmark work; a revelation,” (The Australian), the company’s full ensemble of 17 dancers — each with a proud Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Island background — perform a series of nine vignettes from past seminal works: Brolga (Corroboree), Black (Ochres), Yellow (Ochres), Dingo (Skin), White (Ochres), Moth (Bush), Two Sisters (Bush), The Call (Walkabout), and In her Mind (Nyapanyapa). Tracing an unbroken song-line, Spirit gives voice to a cosmos of plants, animals, and ancestral medicine, laid down one step at a time. This “haunting, mesmerizing, and incredibly powerful performance” (Dance Informa) seamlessly blends ceremonial tradition gathered from respected community elders with dynamic contemporary movement, highlighting remarkable athleticism and powerful extensions from its company of accomplished dancers.
The atmospheric score for Spirit was composed by the late David Page, Bangarra’s long-time music director and prolific composer, and Steve Francis, an award-winning composer for film, television, theatre, and dance. A celebration of the sacredness of ritual from dawn’s first light to the setting sun, the lush score’s heady foundation is punctuated by the earthly rhythms and natural vibrations found within cultural customs, including a pulsing drumbeat, droning didgeridoo, and dynamic vocalizations.
A descendent of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from the South East Queensland, Bangarra Artistic Director and Spirit choreographer Page is one of Australia’s most treasured and highly acclaimed performing arts leaders. Appointed to his role in 1991, Page has worked in close relationship with Australia’s many communities to develop Bangarra’s signature dance technique that fuses time-honoured culture with contemporary movement. The recipient of numerous performing arts accolades, Page has choreographed several works for The Australian Ballet, including Alchemy and Rites, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. His first full-length film SPEAR premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.
A former assistant artistic director, choreographer, and dancer with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Walong is an independent choreographer-performer and educator based in Sydney, Australia, working within dance, theatre, education, advertising, and film. She lectured in performance at the University of Western Sydney for eight years (1999-2007). A graduate of NAISDA Dance College, Walong performed with Dance North, Meryl Tankard, and Australian Dance Theatre.
DanceHouse presents Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Spirit
Dates: October 25 & 26, 2019 at 8pm
Pre-Show Talk at 7:15pm. Host: Starr Muranko (Artistic Associate, Raven Spirit Dance). Guest: Stephen Page (Artistic Director, Bangarra Dance Theatre)
Ticket Prices: From $35
Address: Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St, Vancouver BC
Box Office dancehouse.ca/tickets/single-tickets/ or call 604.801.6225
Photo: Courtesy of the artists
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