Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Working my way through World Ballet Day footage: Part 1 The Bangarra Dance Theatre

Rock Paintings, Kimberley, Western Australia
Author TimJN1
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

I am slowly working my way through the footage of World Ballet Day and I am still only on Australia. However one of the delights that I have already encountered is the Bangarra Dance Theatre which is introduced by one of its dancers, Tara Bower. The company describes itself as "an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander organisation and one ofAustralia’s leading performing arts companies." It consists of 16 dancers and according to the video each and every one of them shares an indigenous Australian or Torres Islander heritage.

The company was formed just over 25 years ago and is directed by Stephen Page. According to its website the company's dance technique is "forged from over 40,000 years of culture, infused with contemporary movement." Although based in Sydney it remains close to the Aboriginal communities from whom its material is drawn.

The slot given to Bangarra on World Ballet Day was not long. Just enough time to show a class, a trip to the country, a dancer stretching by the sea shore, a rehearsal, part of a performance and snippets from the company's tour to Turkey and Paris. The film shows the dancers in a magnificent modern auditorium in Istanbul and then in a special performance in the Australian embassy in Paris.

As they have been to Paris it occurred to me that they had probably been to London so I googled Sadler's Well and Bangarra. I found that they were here in 2008 with the Australian Ballet with whom they danced a version of Rite of Spring called Rites. The film is very impressive and I really wish I had seen those dancers on stage. In her commentary Tara Bower says that the dancers are trained in several styles including jazz and contemporary and of course ballet. In fact the class shows the dancers performing the traditional barre exercises.

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