BLAK is Bangarra’s most confronting, exposing and liberating work.
Although Bangarra is one of my favourite dance companies, as a dancer myself, I am often left musing over the technical abilities of Bangarra’s performers rather than truly engaging with them. This time, for the first time, the work I experienced was so powerful – both emotionally and technically – that it was impossible not to be enthralled by the detail of the company of contemporary dancers and the work itself. The strength, confrontation and abandonment to culture, its complications and its depth of body, make BLAK one of Bangarra’s most powerful works to date.
The opening piece, Scar, directed by Daniel Riley McKinley and co-choreographed by the male dancers spoke so deeply and personally that it was difficult to remain present for the next two pieces. As all art should, it exposed universal truths of what men have to offer each other and their own, to connect them to cultural lineage and manhood. This uncovered a personal understanding of what roots and rites I have to offer my own sons, as a white male Australian disconnected from the roots of his ancestral lineage. For that I am very grateful to McKinley and the rest of the male dancers.
[pull_left]As all art should, it exposed universal truths of what men have to offer each other and their own, to connect them to cultural lineage and manhood[/pull_left]
The next two sections of work, Yearning and Keepers, continue the exploration of First Australians contemporary experience of a culture that is as complex as it is long. Yearning explores several aspects of Indigenous women’s journey that are uncomfortable for men to watch. It is a universal experience that as boys and men we observe and struggle to come to terms with. While Keepers brings the genders together, connecting them literally and metaphorically to each other and to “the legacy of their elders”, as the program states.
Finally, high praise need to go to Matt Cox (lighting design) and Jacob Nash (set design) for the enormously effective collaboration that is striking for its sheer simplicity. Inspiring art from the whole team on BLAK. This is a work that I expect to see excerpts from in the coming years, with a full revival due sooner than later.
Season dates: 11 – 13 July 2013 (with Saturday matinee)
Booking information: Canberra Theatre Centre 62752700
BLAK completes its tour at QPAC, Brisbane from July 18 – 27.