Bangarra Dance Theatre Announces Landmark Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Horizon

Bangarra Dance Theatre Announces Landmark Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Horizon

Bangarra Dance Theatre, renowned for showcasing the talents of the country’s top Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers, has made national headlines this month with the announcement of its first main stage cross-cultural collaboration, Horizon. Bangarra Dance Theatre Announces Landmark Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Horizon

A Sacred Celebration of Culture

Horizon is described as celebrating a sacred realm where the sun rises and falls, bringing new light. This production sees the collaboration of leading Māori choreographer and arts laureate Moss Te Ururangi Patterson with Bangarra choreographer Deborah Brown. Together, they present a mainstage production reflecting stories that honor their mother countries and the spirit that calls them home.

The double bill opens with an expanded iteration of Kulka by Bangarra alum Sani Townson, followed by the primary piece, The Light Inside, choreographed by Brown and Patterson.

Bangarra Dance Theatre Announces Landmark Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Horizon

Honoring the First Peoples of Oceania

Horizon pays tribute to the First Peoples of the Oceania region, spanning Australia, the Torres Strait Islands, and Aotearoa. The story of resilience explores the cultural forces that bind us together across oceans and eons.

Bangarra Dance Theatre artistic director and co-chief executive Frances Rings expressed excitement about this development for Bangarra and its dancers. “I’ve been able to commission three choreographers for Horizon that have inspired me,” said Rings. “This is my first commission, and I’m really excited to share with audiences and our communities these new storytellers for Bangarra. It’s different, but it’s also a step in an interesting direction for the company.”

Having spent 12 years as a dancer with Bangarra before transitioning to her current roles, Rings was delighted to spotlight international creatives through Horizon. “A really important passion that I have is how I connect my storytelling and that of the company with other international First Nations creatives and choreographers,” she said.

Celebrated Choreographers

Bangarra Dance Theatre Announces Landmark Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Horizon

Sani Townson, Deborah Brown, and Moss Te Ururangi Patterson bring their unique perspectives and methodologies to Horizon. Townson, a former Bangarra dancer and current youth program coordinator, expands on his previous work, Kalka. Brown, from the Meriam Islands in the Torres Strait, has a rich history with Bangarra and has worked in film and with other companies. Patterson, from the Lake Taupō region with ancestral lands of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, is Bangarra’s first international First Nations Indigenous choreographer.

Exploring Themes of Home and Connection

Rings emphasized the deep cultural connections explored in Horizon. “This work is inspired by our waters, our saltwater, our freshwater, and our relationships to our islands and from the Oceania region,” she explained. “Horizon is also about the concept of home and what that means for Indigenous people, whether it be your ancestral home, your urban home, or that sense of home that you carry with you when you’re with your family.”

For Patterson, Horizon is more than a stage production; it is a celebration of a new era for both Bangarra Dance Theatre and Australia’s broader dance and creative communities. “Horizon is an idea which draws from quite a deep place of telling a story from an Indigenous perspective,” he said. “It is really about building relationships, building story together. It’s a story of connection. Connection to home, connection to my small village, connection to Frances, connection to Deborah, and in sharing those stories, we build a new story together.”

A New Story Together

Patterson highlights the organic and intimate process of creating Horizon, where personal stories and cultural narratives fuse through movement. “Sharing personal stories is always a vulnerable space to be in,” he said. “The environment here at Bangarra, when I first arrived, I noticed there was already this incredible space of care and trust.”

Horizon premiered at the Sydney Opera House on June 11 and is set to tour across Australia in 2024. This powerful new work from two of the world’s most renowned First Nations choreographers celebrates international culture and craft, and stands as a testament to the rich talent and storytelling that comes from the fusion of cultures and creatives.

Important Notes

Please note that this production contains elevated sound levels, flashing lights, haze, smoke effects, and voices of Tangata whenua, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed.

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