Of Earth & Sky

Tom Lambert

BANGARRA'S 'Of Earth & Sky' is one performance that made me come away with a bigger appreciation of dance, performance and the emotion within dance.
Of Earth & Sky
Bangarra’s Of Earth & Sky is one performance that made me come away with a bigger appreciation of dance, performance and the emotion within dance. The concept of the season was dance inspired by visual arts. From this, Daniel Riley McKinley and Francis Rings, have created a work each that is visually stunning and incredibly moving. The first work was Riley by McKinley, which was inspired by photographer and film maker, Michael Riley. As an audience member you enter the auditorium to the house curtain up and the stage lit. A big white square defines the main performance space with a projection screen as the backdrop. The performance starts while the house lights are still up, with a lone dancer entering the space on his back wriggling and moving across the space. From then on ward to the end we are taken on a journey of emotion from locust plagues, through to religion. For me, the two standout parts in this work were a duo between Waangenga Blanco and Leonard Mickelo. Masculine, yet intimate and completely beautiful. The female ensemble all moving in unison in the section of Bible (Women) was the other standout. So simple and so stunning. The emotion that was in the movement was evident and powerful. The second work Artefact was beautiful and moving. This work starts with a duo in front of the curtain by Daniel Riley McKinley, Leonard Mickelo, and a stunning Possum-skin coat. Once the house curtain is out we are greeted by what looks like one giant piece of bark, set upstage. This piece of bark was used as a resting place, dance space, and was even flown as a projection screen. When used as the dance space the dancers move in, around and on this piece of bark, which reminded me of ants moving on a tree. This work was more traditional in its feel. The concept of the work was to breathe life back in to “object”. Objects of the past, that may be in today’s day and age, we just see as an object, not, see something with a story, and a history and a connection to someone. The section titled String Bags, really emotes this as the female dancers dance with woven bags that once held food. Body is a section that uses projection and changes the body from what we know it as, to an object, through measuring and comparing body parts. Damien Cooper gives us yet another brilliant lighting design. The sound composition was by David Page and again was brilliant. On a side note in Riley, there was recorded dialogue of Michael Riley at the end that I found difficult to comprehend as there was so much going on. It wasn’t until the very end where it was his voice alone that I could really listen to the words. This performance was beautiful. Many beautiful moments and images that will stay with me for a long time and make me look at things differently. These two works are literally of earth and sky, and definitely should not to be missed. Of Earth and Sky is currently touring nationally. Visit the Bangarra website for more information.

About the author

Tom Lambert studied dance at the VCA and is an ArtsHub reviewer.