Monday, September 13, 2010


Bangarra Dance Company
Canberra Theatre,
September 3rd & 4th 2010

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

A tall figure clad in a dusty possum rug appears out of the darkness. Suddenly an arm, then a man's torso, appear above the rug and we realise that this is in fact two bodies, (Daniel Riley McKinley and Leonard Mickelo) who intertwine in a series of striking images which commence Frances Rings' remarkable "Artefact".

Utilising objects central to aboriginal life as her inspiration, Rings has fashioned a series of intriguing dances around string bags,  weaving, grinding and even the aboriginal body. Her mesmerisingly fluid choreography is superbly performed by the company in a work that is visually ravishing, theatrically satisfying and spiritually uplifting.

There was considerable interest in the opening work, "Riley", choreographed by former Canberra dancer Daniel Riley McKinley, and the audience was not disappointed. Drawing his inspiration from photographs by his cousin, Michael Riley, McKinley has fashioned a lovely work which also draws on familar objects,in this case a feather,locusts and a bible. McKinley's mastery of imaginative group movement was evident in the opening movement, "Boomerang", while the achingly beautiful imagery of the duet, "Angel", danced by Waangenga Blanco and Leonard Mickelo remains imprinted on the mind.

Both the works which made up the program benefited from Jacob Nash's simple, inspired settings, both brilliantly lit by Damien Cooper, and from the imaginative costumes of Gabriella Tylesova. But most particularly from David Page's brilliantly evocative soundscapes which have become so much a part of the Bangarra experience.

(An edited version of this review was published in the September 9 -15 edition of "City News".)