Daniel Mateo Shines in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s New Production ‘Horizon’

Daniel Mateo Shines in Bangarra Dance Theatre's New Production 'Horizon'

Daniel Mateo, a dancer in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s new mainstage production, Horizon, joined the acclaimed company in 2021 as a Russell Page graduate from NAISDA Dance College. Representing the Gamilaroi people of northeast NSW and Ma’ufanga in Tonga, Mr. Mateo’s journey as a dancer is deeply rooted in his Indigenous heritage. Daniel Mateo Shines in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s New Production ‘Horizon’

A Promising Start

“My first work with Bangarra was The Spirit Program… Being able to have that as my first production – there was so much knowledge in the space,” Mr. Mateo shared. “Me being the fresh one that I was, witnessing and taking it all in like a sponge, I could eat it for days. It’s always nice being an Indigenous artist, telling our stories and making sure we reach a platform where the whole of Australia can hear us.”

‘Horizon’: A Groundbreaking Collaboration

Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts company, recently announced the world premiere of Horizon, their first mainstage cross-cultural collaboration. The new work, choreographed by Indigenous artists Moss Te Ururangi Patterson and Deborah Brown, will debut at the Sydney Opera House in June before touring Australia in 2024.

“‘Horizon has been, in all the right ways, a tough one,” Mr. Mateo said. “The excitement of having two First Nations choreographers… there’s been an immense field of knowledge coming through the studios.”

Honouring Indigenous Connections

Horizon honours the Indigenous peoples of Oceania, exploring the cultural connections that unite these regions across time and space. Mr. Patterson, a proud descendant of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa tribe, brings extensive experience from Atamira Dance Company and The New Zealand Dance Company. He has received awards from the Tempo Dance Festival, Toi Māori, and Creative New Zealand.

Mrs. Brown, of the Wakaid Clan and Meriam people of the Torres Strait, was a Senior Dancer with Bangarra for thirteen years and won a Helpmann Award for her performance in Terrain.

Expanding Cultural Narratives

Horizon will feature an expanded version of Saibai Koedal and Samu man Sani Townson’s work Kulka, which honours his grandfather and Torres Strait heritage. Mr. Townson has previously collaborated with Qantas, Gondwana Choirs, and other organisations.

“I think Horizon will have a massive impact once it hits the stages,” Mr. Mateo noted. “Indigenous people have a history of trauma that needs to be shared and heard. But because trauma circles around differently if it goes from one black mouth to another, there’s nothing that allows the circle or cycle to be broken.”

Beyond Dance: A Voice in Poetry

Beyond his dance career, Mr. Mateo serves as a cultural ambassador through spoken word. He was a finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam 2021 and competed in the 2022 National Youth Poetry Slam. He is also a member of the Bankstown Poetry Slam Poets, who recently performed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on May 15.

“Poetry and spoken word was an avenue that I could express something that was closer to me,” he explained. “Also being a brown man, the idea of sharing thoughts, opinions and emotions – I wanted my poetry to open the doors of conversation for the young Indigenous and Tongan people in Australia.”

Upcoming Performances

Horizon will premiere on Gadigal Country at the Sydney Opera House from June 11 to July 13. The production will then move to Ngunnawal Country at the Canberra Theatre Centre from July 18 to 20, followed by performances in Meanjin at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre from August 7 to 17. The tour will conclude on Wurundjeri Country at the Arts Centre Melbourne from August 28 to September 7.

This production promises to be a powerful testament to the resilience and creativity of Indigenous cultures, showcasing the talents of artists like Daniel Mateo who continue to inspire and challenge audiences across Australia.

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Source: https://nit.com.au/07-06-2024/11785/Gamilaroi-and-Tongan-dancer-shines-in-Bangarra-Dance-Theatres-Horizon-premiering-nationwide

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