Bangarra Dance Theatre has announced its 2019 season with a triple bill program celebrating the company’s three-decade history titled Bangarra: 30 Years of 65,000 Years, which will tour to every Australian capital city.

The program, which will bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from all over Australia, will open with a restaging of Frances Rings’ 2004 piece Unaipon. The work celebrates the journey of David Unaipon (1872-1967) from the shores of Lake Alexandrina within the Ngarrindjeri nation to his place on the Australian fifty-dollar note.

Bennelong, Bangara Dance TheatreBeau Dean Riley Smith and Bangarra dancers in Bennelong, 2017. Photo © Daniel Boud

Alongside Unaipon, Bangarra will, for the first time, present the work an international guest artist, Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián. Kylián created his ballet Stamping Ground when he was Artistic Director of the Nederlands Dans Theater off the back of visiting a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, North East Arnhem Land. The work was last performed in Australia by Nederlands Dans Theater in 1986.

“Jiří and Fran are two wonderful creators, and our 30th program is the perfect time to share these stories,” Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page said. “I commissioned Fran to create Unaipon back in 2004 when I was the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival. It was her first major full work; a story of her own Country and people – her sister Gina, also Bangarra alumni, had shared the story with Fran and supported her in the creation of this work.”

“The idea of Stamping Ground coming back to the culture that blew the first breath into it is quite amazing and something that likely won’t happen again,” he says. “When I first heard of Jiří’s work in Australia in 1984-1985, something resonated with me. I was still studying at NAISDA, pre-Bangarra, and knew that something like this had never happened before. The choreography will be challenging, as our dancers will need to bring their own spirit to the story and connect with Jiří’s vision and impressions.”

The triple bill will culminate in a collection of dance stories from Bangarra’s 30-year history curated by Page and Bangarra’s Head of Design Jacob Nash. Bangarra: 30 Years of 65,000 Years will open at the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre before touring to Canberra, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart.

Bangarra’s year begins with a regional tour of the company’s acclaimed Bennelong to regional Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory in February and March.

Tickets for Bangarra’s national tour go on sale to the general public at 10am on January 29