Aboriginal Eyes on a World Set in Motion

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH FRATER

DANCE Bangarra Dance Theatre/Bush Sadler's Wells .....

ALTHOUGH Bangarra describe themselves as a dance troupe, it's better to think of them as mystery players. The Australian visitors mix modern Western moves with the Dreamtime creation stories of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, but the result is less choreographic narrative and more a series of vivid tableaux.

Indeed, the stories are fuzzily told, yet the stage pictures are visually striking and often potent emotional triggers. Early on in the 75-minute show, the stage is inky except for a fingerlight of dawn. The 13 dancers sit looking out onto the horizon, in a sort of ritualised wonder. Their stillness somehow emphasises the immensity, and sheer mystery of creation, the endlessness of the desert, mile after mile of nothingness, which is but a drop compared to the endlessness of space.

Another affecting scene is when the female tribe elder (Kathy Balngayngu Marika) sits with the women, as if round a campfire. Gently, she seems to be explaining the secrets of life, and if we listen closely, we too might understand.

Bush both depicts the traditional life of indigenous peoples, and the conflict between their nature worship and Christian urbanisation. …