West Australian Ballet and Northern Territory Dance Company have collaborated on ground-breaking world premiere for Aboriginal Ballet.
West Australian Ballet (WAB) has announced an exciting new collaboration with Gary Lang, Darwin based Indigenous choreographer and Artistic Director of the Northern Territory (NT) Dance Company.
The project began as early as a few years ago, when WAB Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella met Gary Lang while working with Ochre Dance Company. Creative development began in October last year and will span across sixteen months, culminating in its world premiere as part of the 2018 Ballet at the Quarry program. The season will feature Indigenous opera singer Ms Deborah Cheetham AO, NT dancers (performing traditional 'Bungal' steps), WAB dancers, a traditional song man, and didgeridoo (Yidaki) player.
WAB Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella says “this project has been at the top of my to-do list for nearly four years and I am very excited to finally have the opportunity to work with Gary Lang. I have known since meeting him and seeing his work that we share a vision for creating work that is culturally inclusive and artistically innovative. It will be a beautiful journey for all.”
“I met Aurélien when I was working with Ochre,” Mr Lang explains. “Aurélien watched what I was doing and told me he’d like to work with me. I was blown away that someone of that calibre and from the heights of the dance world would just go with a feeling and want to take a risk with a non-mainstream company, with an indigenous choreographer. I love West Australian Ballet for that.”
From left: Aurélien Scannella, WA Ballet Artistic Director; Ms Deborah Cheetham AO; Gary Lang, Northern Territory Dance Company
In April 2017, WAB Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella, Executive Director Jessica Machin and their families travelled to Darwin to meet with Ms Cheetham and view the outcomes of the creative development funded by Arts NT and then on to Gove (Arnhem land, NT) to meet Mr Lang’s family and cultural elders in the Yirrkala community.
“By Aurélien, Jess, and their families coming to my community, they will gain a wider perspective of where my work comes from. They will have an understanding of who I’m working with,” Mr Lang says. ”We are also excited to show them the outcome of the first creative development process and begin to deepen the collaboration.”
“City of Darwin welcomes WAB to the Top End” says Katrina Fong Lim, Lord Mayor of Darwin. “We are excited by the news that WAB will be collaborating with Gary Lang. This is a fantastic opportunity to create a performance so rich in culture and passion.”
In October 2017, Gary Lang, three NT dancers and Ms Cheetham will come to Perth for another creative development at West Australian Ballet Centre, Maylands. During this development, Mr Lang will meet with Noongar elders and artists.
Woodside is also supporting West Australian Ballet staff and dancers with cultural awareness training, which contributes to an overarching mission to be at the forefront of developing culturally inclusive practices in the sector. Mr Lang will also hold master classes to engage the wider dance community in Perth, broadening the project’s cultural footprint.
“This is such an exciting development for the company artistically and also for the whole organisation. We will be embracing this project on many levels and know that it will change us all. I was delighted to be able to support Aurélien and Gary in realising this important collaboration” says Jessica Machin, WAB Executive Director.
Woodside is the proud Principal Partner of West Australian Ballet, and excited to be collaborating with the company to help deliver this world premiere event.