Next year’s centrepiece is a new work inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book Dark Emu.

Bangarra Dance Theatre has announced its 2018, which includes a new work called Dark Emu, a tour of the company’s 2016 work OUR land people stories, and a season of the hit 2017 work Bennelong in Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Festival.

The centrepiece of the 2018 season is a new work called Dark Emu inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? Pascoe is an Indigenous Victorian writer from the Bunurong clan of the Kulin nation. His book – which was named Book of the Year at the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards – puts forward evidence that Aboriginal Australians pre-colonisation were not hunter-gatherers but cultivated domesticated plants, built permanent dwellings, and developed sophisticated systems of governance and sustainable land care for thousands of years across the country.

Yolanda Lowatta, Rika Hamaguchi, Daniel Riley and Tyrel Dulvarie. Photograph supplied

Dark Emu will be directed by Stephen Page in collaboration with senior dancer Daniel Riley, Bangarra alumna Yolande Brown and the company’s ensemble of dancers. It will explore “the vital life force of flora and fauna in a series of dance stories”, said a media release.

“Our dancers have Bangarra embedded in their DNA,” said Page. “Inherent in our creation process is the passing of knowledge, Spirit and our accumulated dance language from one generation to the next.”

“Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu is such an important work in the way it illuminates how Aboriginal people interacted with the land pre-colonisation, and imagines what could have been. I can’t wait to start exploring its rich hunting ground of ideas with Bangarra’s dancers.”

Page will collaborate with Steve Francis (music), Jacob Nash (sets) and Jennifer Irwin (costumes) to bring Dark Emu to the stage. The production will premiere in Sydney in June, before travelling to Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Yolanda Lowatta and Daniel Riley. Photograph supplied

Regional audiences will have the chance to see 2016’s captivating triple bill, OUR land people stories, featuring Macq by Jasmin Sheppard, Miyagan by Daniel Riley and Beau Dean Riley Smith, an Nyapanyapa by Stephen Page. The production, which received a four-star review from Limelight, will go on a seven-city tour beginning in Newcastle in February, and journeying to Dubbo, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Mackay and Alice Springs. The Dubbo performance will mark the return of Miyagan to the Wiradjuri community that inspired the work.

Next year will also see the return of Bennelong, which received a four-and-a-half star review from Limelight when it premiered in Sydney in June before touring to Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne. The stunning work about Woollarawarre Bennelong, the Eora man who became an intermediary between his clan and the colonial forces of Captain Arthur Phillip, will finally be seen in Adelaide, thanks to the Adelaide Festival where it will play for four day in March.


Dark Emu will go on sale in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne on November 9 and in Canberra on November 13.

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