Bangarra Dance Theatre's new work Dark Emu is an exploration of the relationship between Australia's Aboriginal people and the land — and their extraordinary knowledge of Australia's plants, animals, landforms and climate. It's also a portrait of the harrowing impact European settlement had on this bond. The show takes inspiration from Bruce Pascoe's nonfiction book of the same name, which covers the complexities of indigenous farming, fishing and landcare techniques.
"Before colonisation, Aboriginal people were one with the land and respect for earth, sky and ocean was central to life," says director Stephen Page. "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."
Premiering at Sydney Opera House between June 12 and July 14, Dark Emu is Page's 25th project for Bangarra. In putting together the 70-minute, four-part show, he worked closely with dancers and collaborators Yolande Brown and Daniel Riley, as well as the Bangarra troupe.
Image: Daniel Boud.