Bangarra to premiere 'Dark Emu'

Posted on: 16/5/2018 7:15AM

Bangarra Dance TheatreIn superb form after the sold-out season of Bennelong, Bangarra Dance Theatre returns with a major new dance work, Dark Emu, directed by one of Australia’s most accomplished creatives, Stephen Page.


The much-anticipated creation is Page’s 25th work for Bangarra and premieres at the Sydney Opera House on 14 June, before travelling to Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne in September. 


Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book of the same name, Dark Emu explores the vital life force of flora and fauna and challenges the ‘hunter-gatherer’ myth of pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians.


The 70-minute work is choreographed by Artistic Director Stephen Page and long-time Bangarra dancers and collaborators Yolande Brown and Daniel Riley, with input from the 18-strong ensemble of dancers. 


Page says Dark Emu is a creative and emotional response to Bruce Pascoe’s non-fiction account of the sophisticated farming, fishing and landcare practices used by Aboriginal people across the continent before the disruption of European settlement.


“Before colonisation, Aboriginal people were one with the land and respect for earth, sky and ocean was central to life. We want to make people aware of the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people and celebrate their profound knowledge of agriculture and aquiculture, which belongs at the epicentre of Australian history,” Page said.


Through a series of interconnected dance stories set in four distinct worlds, Dark Emu conveys the devastating assault on land, people, spirit and knowledge experienced by First Nations Peoples. 


Choreographer and senior Bangarra dancer Daniel Riley said, “Inspired by some of the stories in Bruce’s book, we’ve created a dance work that mourns our losses and shines a light on the incredible achievements of Aboriginal Australia, which have sadly been overlooked in the history books.” 


Choreographer and former Bangarra dancer Yolande Brown commented, “Each dance story is a reminder to recognise and harness the rich knowledge Aboriginal people have held for thousands of years and to use what we know to navigate today’s environmental issues.”


Dark Emu promises to be a sensory delight, with Bangarra collaborators Steve Francis (music), Jacob Nash (sets) and Jennifer Irwin (costumes) bringing their impeccable aesthetic to the production.


Thanks to the generous support of The Balnaves Foundation, affordable tickets will be made available for Community Night performances in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.


Soon to enter its third decade, Bangarra is one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, internationally acclaimed for combining more than 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with powerful contemporary dance, immersive soundscapes, music and design.


This season is the only opportunity to see Dark Emu at the iconic Sydney Opera House this year: a must-see dance experience in 2018. 


For more information and tickets, visit


Photo: Bangarra's Daniel Riley, Tyrel Dulvarie, Rika Hamaguchi and Yolanda Lowatta for Dark Emu. Photo by Daniel Boud.



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