Bangarra Dance Theatre

Spirit • Nyapanyapa

2019-11-15 20:00 2019-11-16 20:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Bangarra Dance Theatre

Bangarra Dance Theatre is one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance companies, admired worldwide for their moving performances, distinctive voice, visually arresting productions, and authentic story-telling. Led by Artistic Director Stephen Page, Bangarra’s unique dance technique is forged from over 65,000 years of culture, embodied with contemporary movement. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, the company presents a program showcasing the best of...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
November 15 - 16, 2019

≈ 1 hour and 16 minutes · No intermission

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Last updated: November 1, 2019

The unique signature of Bangarra Dance Theatre has earned it a stellar reputation worldwide. Now in its 30th year, the company’s inspiring blend of traditional and contemporary dance has touched thousands, both through its dynamic performances and extensive community work. Under the artistic leadership of choreographer Stephen Page, Bangarra returns for its second NAC Dance visit with a powerful double-bill highlighting its spectacular dancing and staging through distinctive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island stories.   

Enjoy the world of NAC Dance!

Bangarra acknowledges that we are performing on the lands of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation, and thanks their Elders past, present and emerging for their generosity in allowing us to perform on their lands.

Dance is our medicine, a practice which connects the past, present and future through the passing on of cultural knowledge. In Spirit, we share the stories of our black experience – uncensored, raw, and unapologetic; stories that powerfully communicate the complexities, diversity and sophistication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and philosophy.

Spirit is Bangarra’s first, extensive tour of Turtle Island, following our season of Awakenings in Ottawa in 2008, and it’s a program of works which speaks to the enduring strength and visceral power of human connection and the human spirit. Many of the works are inspired by the traditional knowledge of sacred lands and the wisdom of the Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land, in which we are taught about our role and responsibilities within the greater life-cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

From the representation of Aboriginal life achieved through rituals, ceremonies, visual arts, healing and storytelling in Yellow, Black and White (Ochres, 1994 and 1995); through the challenges of contemporary existence as depicted in Dingo (Spear, 2000) and The Call (Rush, 2002); all of these works underscore the importance of ceremony, connection and transformation as the means through which the spirit is able to be released, the cycle of life is able to continue, and hope is able to prevail.

Nyapanyapa is inspired by the beautifully textured paintings of Yirrkala artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. Through dance, Nyapanyapa illuminates and celebrates the artist’s incredible creative gifts and brings her joyful work to a new audience.

I thank Cultural Consultants Djakapurra Munyarryun, Aunty Kathy Balngayngu Marika, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu and Ningali Lawford-Wolf for entrusting us with their songs, stories and Language. I also thank my fellow choreographers, creatives and dancers who have contributed so much, personally and professionally, to the creation of these works over the last three decades. Thank you my Country.


76 minutes, no intermission

SPIRIT  29:26 minutes

Black (Ochres, 1994) 9:46 minutes

Yellow (Ochres, 1995) 7 minutes

Dingo (Spear, 2000 Skin) 4:40 minutes

White (Ochres, 1994) 3:30 minutes

The Call (Rush, 2002 Walkabout) 4:20 minutes

Nyapanyapa  42:33 minutes


Black (Ochres, 1994)

This is male energy – when they wipe ochre across their forehead, it’s protective action, to protect and maintain the male spirit before they go on the hunt. This dance features animal mimicry, which is integral to traditional dance; the swatting movement with the hands, like the swatting of flies, the crouching and rearing up, the shaking of the body – that is kangaroo.

In Black we also have the hands covering mouths – a political statement about petrol sniffing, an abstract move we included to comment on the social dilemma that is an ongoing issue in a lot of communities.

Yellow (Ochres, 1995)

This is the woman spirit – mother earth in all her forms as represented by the women and the yellow ochre. Many of the movements in Yellow are inspired by female energy and their connection to the land – the nurturing of children, feeding, gathering, water, bathing, birthing.

Dingo (Spear, 2000 Skin)

A sacred and powerful initiation ceremony from traditional Aboriginal men’s law – a young boy becomes a man and is given the totem of the dingo, Australia’s wild dog. Inspired by the initiation of boys to men, taking on the fearless nature of the dingo.

White (Ochres, 1994)

White takes inspiration from what has come before and the impact it has on our future. Our history is protecting us, it informs who we are and it is a source of rejuvenation. White is that new spirit world: the dancers embody the spiritual energy of the future. We acknowledge the continuation of life by embracing our history.

The Call (Rush, 2002 Walkabout)

The Call grapples with the challenges of being an Indigenous man in the contemporary world, calling on connections to traditional land and culture, to cultivate strength.

Choreography: Stephen Page, Bernadette Walong-Sene

Traditional Choreography and Music: Djakapurra Munyarryun

Music: David Page, Steve Francis

Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin    

Set Design: Jacob Nash

Brolga Cloths: John Matkovic, Stephen Page

Lighting Design: Nick Schlieper, Karen Norris, Joseph Mercurio, Matt Cox


(OUR land people stories, 2016)

Inspired by the beautifully textured painting of Yirrkala artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.

Choreography: Stephen Page

Music: David Page, Steve Francis

Costume Design: Jennifer Irwin

Set Design: Jacob Nash

Lighting Design: Matt Cox

Cultural Consultant: Nyapanyapa Yunupingu

About the Company

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Bangarra is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organization and one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, widely acclaimed nationally and around the world for powerful dancing, distinctive theatrical voice and utterly unique soundscapes, music and design.

Led by Artistic Director Stephen Page, Bangarra are currently in our 30th year, but their dance technique is forged from over 65,000 years of culture, embodied with contemporary movement. The company’s dancers are professionally trained, dynamic artists who represent the pinnacle of Australian dance. Each has a proud Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background, from various locations across the country.

Bangarra was birthed in 1989 from the energy of NAISDA (National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association) founder Carole J Johnson, along with NAISDA graduates, and Rob Bryant and Cheryl Stone. That spark continues to animate the company today.

Bangarra’s relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are the heart of the company, with their repertoire created on Country and stories gathered from respected community Elders.

It’s this inherent connection to the land and people that makes Bangarra unique and enjoyed by audiences from remote Australian regional centres to New York.

Bangarra’s annual program includes a national tour of a world premiere work, performed in Australia’s most iconic venues; a regional tour allowing audiences outside of capital cities the opportunity to experience Bangarra, and an international tour to maintain their global reputation for excellence.

Complementing this touring roster are education programs, workshops and special performances and projects, planting the seeds for the next generation of performers and storytellers.

Authentic storytelling, outstanding technique and deeply moving performances are Bangarra’s unique signature.

Bangarra Dance Theatre


Artistic Director: Stephen Page

Interim Executive Director: Tony Grybowski

Executive Administrator: Laura Hough     

Artistic team

Associate Artistic Director: Frances Rings

Head of Design: Jacob Nash

Rehearsal Director: Daniel Roberts     


Company Manager: Cloudia Elder

Production Manager: Cat Studley

Head Electrician, Lighting Realiser: Ryan Shuker

Stage Manager: Lillian Hannah U

Head Mechanist: Dave Tongs    

Head of Wardrobe: Monica Smith

AV & Sound Technician: Emjay Matthews

Production Assistant, Assistant Stage Manager: Stephanie Storr

Thank you

Bangarra would like to thank Linda Herd, our Guya Donor and friend, for her generous support of this tour.