Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are suggested that this evaluation comprises the identify of somebody who has handed away. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers of the work are additionally warned that SandSong comprises photographs and voices of deceased individuals.
A shimmering, molten backdrop – gold and pink just like the floor of the solar or a crucible of pink sizzling valuable metallic – stretches the complete width and peak of the ASB Waterfront Theatre Auditorium. This is just one of many photographs SandSong sears into the thoughts of the viewer.
Evoking the unfathomable scale and great thing about the Kimberley and Nice Sandy Desert areas (a mixed space of 700,000 sq. kilometres) SandSong was created by Bangarra Dance Theatre in session with Wangkatjungka and Walmajarri Elders. The work tells their tales and shares their data in 4 acts, traversing each the cultural disruption and bodily displacement Aboriginal individuals have skilled, and providing visions of Indigenous futures.
The work was prompted by Bangarra collaborator Ningali Josie Lawford-Wolf, a Wangkatjungka girl. Lawford-Wolf had advised making a piece impressed by the Kimberley in 2019 however sadly handed away later that yr. SandSong honours her reminiscence and attracts on the data of her siblings Putuparri Tom Lawford and Eva Nargoodah who took on roles as cultural advisors.
The divisions of the 4 acts mirror seasonal and historic shifts. Act 1 is titled ‘Makurra, Chilly Dry Season’ and exhibits life within the Kimberley earlier than Wangkatjungka and Walmajarri individuals had been pressured off the land and foreshadows the arrival of white colonists; Act 2 ‘Parranga, Sizzling Dry Season’ exhibits change occurring and a mud storm brewing; Act 3 ‘Kartiya’ (that means White Particular person) begins with the recording of an auctioneer, a harsh interruption of the land and other people, and depicts time spent on the stations earlier than a climatic stroll off and return to the desert; and Act 4 ‘Yitilal, Moist Season’ exhibits therapeutic, demonstrating that even this intergenerational trauma can’t break the cycle.
Throughout the acts conventional dances are introduced in addition to unique choreography (Stephen Web page and Francis Rings). Components of the motion vocabulary had been new to me. In locations the foot after which the leg leads as if the remainder of the physique is auxiliary to the leg fairly than the leg being periphery to the central torso (because the limb largely seems in Western modern dance). The expertise, for a viewer with out data of conventional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance practices, or a familiarity with modern dances practices as established by NAISDA Dance Faculty (Nationwide Aboriginal Islander Expertise Improvement Affiliation), and even Bangarra’s wider oeuvre, is akin to the problem of listening to a language you solely know a handful of phrases from. That means is conveyed, however you understand the fantastic thing about the sentence construction eludes you.
Nevertheless, this isn’t alienating, it’s as a substitute a revelatory expertise. Something that is likely to be missed by way of the historical past conveyed is obtainable in intensive programme notes. And, even in case you didn’t have the perception of the programme, the music driving the efficiency (scored by composer Steve Francis and interwoven with a spread of recorded voices and conventional songs) offers emotive cues clear sufficient to bridge the cultural divides.
Over the course of the efficiency the sunshine falling on that glittering gold backdrop shifts and it turns into gleaming black blue rock. One other lighting change and in some way it seems to be a wall of flame or mud roaring by a distant tree line. It’s astonishingly stunning and speaks to the elegant high quality of the entire components of this manufacturing.
Bangarra Dance Theatre clearly deserve their popularity as one of the vital distinctive theatrical voices within the Australian performing arts business. SandSong is a piece that burns on within the thoughts’s eye nicely after the ultimate bows have been taken.
SandSong performed the ASB Waterfront Theatre fifteenth to the 18th of March 2023 as a part of the Auckland Artwork Competition