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Sandsong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert

Bangarra Dance Theatre needs no introduction. Now in their fourth decade of performance, the company has been fundamental in bringing contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to the foreground of the Australian performing arts scene.

By Hannah Muir

The company is currently touring SandSong: Stories from The Great Sandy Desert, with shows in both Alice Springs and Darwin, that explores the resilience of culture against government policy in the Kimberley and Great Sandy Desert region.

Created in consultation with Wangkatjungka and Walmajarri Elders, SandSong encompasses the human and physical elements of the region, embodying the seasons, the heat in the air, the land, the weather, all inexplicably linked to one another.

Bangarra dancer Emily Flannery, a Wiradjuri woman, reflects on current strategies to preserve the culture of her mob in New South Wales.

“We are definitely trying to revive the culture. Our Elders are learning the language and passing that on. That helps me to connect to this story because it is about, not only survival and continuation, but thriving and keeping this culture going so the next generation has it and so we can continue living it.”

The traumatic effects of colonisation are understandably a big and personal topic to embody. Much like the subjective and personal nature in which dance is experienced, everyone has some connection to it, some meaning from it.

“If you don’t really delve into the story and you don’t put your full heart into it, it doesn’t get told the way it’s supposed to. We are all so emotionally invested in it,” Flannery says.

“It is tough, it’s a really physical show, but it’s also emotionally quite draining as well. It is heavy. They are tough things to talk about and tough things to dance about, but you get on stage and you realise why you are doing this.

“You have a story to tell, and we are in such a position of privilege to be able to tell these stories that need to be told. I’m so grateful that I get to do that.”

Alice Springs
FRI 18 NOV, 7.30PM | SAT 19 NOV, 1PM
COST $35–$70

FRI 25 & SAT 26 NOV | 7.30PM
COST $25–$69

Photo: Daniel Boud

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