Patyegarang – Bangarra Dance Theatre

From dusty archive to electric footwork, Bangarra's latest performance examines 'first contact' from a fresh perspective.
Annie Murney
Published on June 09, 2014


Bangarra Dance Theatre is celebrating its 25th anniversary with another masterful fusion of storytelling and contemporary dance. Building on one of the earliest collaborations between Aboriginal people and the new settlers, Patyegarang traces the relationship between a spirited young indigenous woman and an English astronomer. It's a little bit like Australia's own Pocahontas adaptation but with cutting edge choreography.

As the colonial fleet arrived on Eora country in the late eighteenth century, Patyegarang befriended Lieutenant William Dawes and in a courageous display of trust, began teaching him her local language. Lifted from the pages of Dawes' notebooks and modelled into an endearing portrait of friendship and cultural exchange, this production encourages a more nuanced understanding of 'first contact.' It also enlivens the legacy of Patyegarang as a striking visionary and educator.

Assured by the experienced hand (or foot) of artistic director Stephen Page, along with a deeply moving soundscape by David Page, this is Bangarra's first full-length Sydney story. Imbued with a spirit of optimism and collaboration, Patyegarang promises an electric tribute to our first people, excavating an overlooked historical tale and providing an opportunity to reflect on Australia's future as a new nation.


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