Bangarra Dance Theatre will bring its landmark production Bennelong to Geelong Performing Arts Centre from February 21-23 as part of the 2019 Deakin University Theatre Season.
Following the extraordinary success of Bennelong’s premiere season in 2017 and a sold-out season at Adelaide Festival in 2018, the production is regarded by many as the strongest and most compelling work to have emerged from Bangarra in its 30-year history.
Directed by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page, Bennelong tells the remarkable story of Woollarawarre Bennelong, a senior man of the Eora nation, from the Port Jackson area in Sydney. Bennelong was one of the first Aboriginal men to be taken from his people and, against his initial will, introduced to European ways. He was a traditional man who became an intermediary between his clan and the colonists, and one of the first Aboriginal people to have their life story recorded and documented through the early diaries of the British military, even travelling to London as a guest of Governor Arthur Phillip who ordered his initial capture.
Stephen Page says that Bennelong is in all of us, as we navigate the ancient and the contemporary elements of our lives. “More than two centuries after his death, telling his extraordinary story and sharing his journey is a powerful reminder that there is still a long way for us to go before we can say we’re at a place of true equality. Never quite belonging to his new tribe, and earning suspicion from the old, Bennelong paid the price of first contact by being exiled from both communities. With extraordinary curiousity and diplomacy, Bennelong led his community to survive a clash of cultures and left a legacy that reverberates through contemporary life.”
Geelong Performing Arts Centre CEO Joel McGuinness says Bangarra Dance Company make a powerful contribution to live performance in Australia and their work is exceptional. “Bangarra’s work transcends notions of contemporary dance, as their work is rich with storytelling, scale and craft. We are incredibly proud to bring work of this calibre to the local community and I urge people to not miss this extraordinary opportunity.”
Bangarra’s work and Bennelong’s legacy was honoured at last year’s Helpmann Awards, with the company gaining seven awards including the prestigious title ‘Best New Australian Work’.
Bennelong will kick off the 2019 Deakin University Theatre Season featuring eight diverse productions from some of the best theatre companies. Tickets are $69 or less, book at gpac.org.au or phone the Box Office on 5225 1200.