Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Mirramu Dance Company in association with artists from Arnhem Land.

James O Fairfax Theatre,
National Gallery of Australia.

1- 3 March 2013

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

How appropriate that the opening night of the Enlighten Festival was chosen for the world premiere of this extraordinary collaboration between traditional indigenous dancers and four highly trained contemporary dancers of the Mirramu Dance Company, to communicate a sacred song line of the Yolngu people through a modern dance work.

Six dancers lead by the indefatigable Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, together with two on-stage musicians, weave authentic ancient traditional movement with sophisticated abstract contemporary choreography to produce seventeen mesmerising interludes depicting the circle of life from sunrise to sunset.

A simple backcloth, sensitive lighting, attractive, often surprising costumes and an evocative soundscape of rolling waves and distant voices combined with the haunting sounds of a didgeridoo and sticks played live on stage,  transport the audience into a world of spirits, canoes, birds and animals through a series of group dances and solos, which include a particularly memorable brolga, danced by Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, and an extraordinary bat danced by Albert David.

At times the two styles of dance looked uncomfortable together, the meanings not always obvious. However, at one point, each of the participants introduced themselves in their native tongue. Although the audience did not understand what some said, it  knew what each was saying.  The same could be said of the movement. An engaging and potent form of enlightenment.

          (An edited version of this review appears in CITY NEWS March 6 - 12th edition)