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Stephen Page’s Last Dance: Bangara’s “Fearless” Artistic Director Bows Thirty Years Later | Dance

NS■ Stephen Page is preparing to make 2022 his last year as Artistic Director of Bangara. dance Thirty years as a leader, the theater is a magnificent 56-year-old final work that brings to the fore the spirit of dear relatives and kindness.

During a lunch break during a rehearsal in Sydney, Page says his late brother, a longtime Bangara composer. David Page who died suddenly in 2016Would have loved being part of his final job for the company.

“David would be really angry with me,” Page jokes. [our] Language, it’s all about bringing us closer to Dad’s country. “

Stephen Page is leading the rehearsal for Wudjang: Not the Past at Walsh Bay Studios in Bangara, Sydney. Photo: Curly Earl / Guardian

With 17 dancers, 4 musicians and 5 actors sharing the stage, Page’s most personal work to date embodies Ujan’s ancestors, played by the Bangara elders. Elma Chris – Longing for her uncovered bones to be buried in a proper way.

Wudjang: Not in the past Use Mibinyah varieties Yuganbe In poetry and songs, in the words of the caretakers of southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales, Ujan means mother, but also mother’s spirit, fighting, and resilience.

This language belonged to Roy, the Munaljari of Page’s late father, Yuganbe. Roy took the children to the countryside in Beaudesert, a hinterland of the Gold Coast, where they talked about folklore and spirit.

Stephen Page with Bangara Dancer Baden Hitchcock and Rika Hamaguchi
After the preview of Sand Song in June, the page of Bangara dancers Baden Hitchcock and Rika Hamaguchi. Photo: Dan Himbrechts / AAP

The show is not the story of the Page brothers told in the Wayne Blair and Nermintin documentary Ignition tool – But it has the essence of family cultural knowledge and is a series of “nine vignette story circles” that combine Bangara tradition with modern dance and live music and song fusion.

The page co-authored the English text of the text with playwright Alana Valentine. On stage, a metal mining and drilling machine representing western poison is hung on a giant rock, showing that indigenous trauma is always present, but Shaw also promises to reconnect the mob with language and culture. ..

During a long preparation for production delayed by Covid-19, Page consulted with his sister, Donna, the keeper of the family’s language. He also listened to the recordings that Donna had kept. Just before his father died, Roy shared his language with David.

Roy and Doreen Page had twelve surviving children born in the 1950s and 1960s and raised in Mount Gravatt, a working-class suburb of Brisbane. “Dad was on his last day and felt safe to speak his language. He came from a generation where it was forbidden.”

Francis Rings and Stephen Page
“We were there for each other”: A page with longtime friend and colleague Francis Rings. Photo: Curly Earl / Guardian

In 2023, Stephen Page “passes the baton” to Francis Rings. Francis Rings steps up to become Artistic Director of Bangara after Ujan. SandSong After being re-performed in mid-year in Sydney, Melbourne and Bendigo, he will be taken to Kimberley, Western Australia. The company’s 2012 show Terrain also includes a 1st anniversary tour of Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.

Page said that when he became an artistic associate of the company in 2018, he had the promotion of the ring in mind, but Ring himself never thought he was given a successor. Page says the takeover is “just right”.

Rings joined Bangala as a performer in 1993, two years after Page took command of the company. The pair trained together as dancers in Sydney and learned their preference for embedding cultural and political messages in each piece partially seeded by indigenous protests surrounding Australia’s 1988 200th anniversary. ..

Francis Rings
Ring joined Bangala in 1993 as a performer. Photo: Bangara Dance Theater

“We are all from this university. We are all connected. Fran and I are like brothers and sisters,” Page said. Previous interview with Guardian Australia, When the pair was co-choreographing Sand Song. “Fran is structurally much more disciplined than I am.”

Ring is laughing, recognizing the comparison of page styles. “Over the years, we … have reconciled and celebrated each other’s differences. He was my first mentor, and even before I saw it in myself, I was creative. He really supported my journey as a choreographer. “

Page says the ring has become part of his family. He committed suicide in 2002 at the age of 34, his brother’s charismatic Bangara dancer, and suffered the death of his extroverted musician brother and comedian performer David five years ago.

“God, I wasn’t the same for three years after David died … The only thing that kept me moving was the fact that I had the following resources: [this job], That allowed me to trip over and mourn, “says Page.

“Fran was there for that. She had to look from a distance, and it really upset her to see me fall, stand up and deny.”

Francis ring.
Rings says the page was her “first mentor.” Photo: Curly Earl / Guardian

Bangara head designer Jacob Nash points out the changes in page choreography from abstraction to story over the years, with important historical indigenous figures in the foreground, including: Patigelan 2014 and Benelong In 2017.

The latter is widely regarded as one of the best works on the page and disappears as Bodeen Riley Smith, who plays an indigenous warrior, kidnaps him and is surrounded by a stage by a British colonist who later unveiled in London. The image that is not there is impressive. Benelong was Bangara’s first full-length work after David’s death.

“David’s death focused on all our thoughts on what we do as an artist,” says Nash.

“One of David’s legacy is also its show. You see Wudjang and that’s the next step. What is this form of storytelling? It’s a ritual, not an opera. It’s this. It is large and large and belongs to us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. “

According to Nash, Stephen Page is “fearless”, accepting stories that need to be told, creating “magic” by “believing in the moment of finding himself”, giving space to the creators of the company, and the process. Has created a leader in.

“His generation gathered in Sydney in the mid-80s and 90s and took this opportunity to create this wonderful company that can cross boundaries and share the most important message about everything we need. This country, political and social.

“He always says art is medicine … he never becomes a politician, but art always has politics.”

Former Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch – the first indigenous Australian appointed to this role – said: You won’t get my career, or even Wayne Blair’s career.

“Stephen opened everyone’s imagination to the possibilities of a lively and vibrant indigenous voice, not the culture of the museum. He sees it in the imagination of non-indigenous Australia. I was able to help. “

Bangara dancers play a story inspired by the dugong's sacred call
Played by a Bangara dancer A story inspired by the sacred call of dugongs during the Ones Country era In 2017. Photo: Daniel Bowd

Beyond Bangara, now grandfather Page wants to make a movie or television with his son, an actor. Hunter Page-Rochard, Starring with Aaron Petase and Bangara members at Page’s 2015 feature director debut, spear..

“The hunter is waiting for me to get out of this door. He has already kidnapped me, and he has a production company that I’m ready to fall into.”

What is the role of the page? “I will support whatever he wants, so he will be my boss.

“Interesting. We wrote a lot of projects together and submitted some movie ideas. The agency has already called me, I don’t know how this is. [news of his Bangarra departure] I went out. I have never had an agent in my life …

“I’m actually petrified and thinking. Who hires a 56-year-old in this era?”

Stephen Page’s Last Dance: Bangara’s “Fearless” Artistic Director Bows Thirty Years Later | Dance

Source link Stephen Page’s Last Dance: Bangara’s “Fearless” Artistic Director Bows Thirty Years Later | Dance

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