Bangarra Dance 1994 Ochres Returns

Rebecca Varidel
10th Oct 2015

1994 and Sydney heralded the evolution of Australian home grown creativity and talent with Ochres, the work that revealed Sydney's Bangarra Dance Theatre to the world.

The original staging of Ochres in 1994 represented a watershed moment for Bangarra, bringing the company national and international attention for its ground-breaking blend of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, fused with contemporary movement. It led to sold-out performances
across Australia and around the world and established Bangarra as an important voice in the country’s cultural landscape.

“Bangarra has grown so much since Ochres was first staged in 1994. An array of artists have worked on this production over the years, and all of them, along with our audiences, have experienced the sacred meaning of this show,” says Bangarra Dance Theatre's Artistic Director, Stephen Page.

In 2015 in another first, Bangarra celebrates the 21st Anniversary of Ochres, the work that revealed the company to the world, with a season of ten performances at Australia’s largest contemporary multi-arts centre, Carriageworks; this will be the first time the company has performed at this unique arts venue.

“Our incredible dance artists and creative team, including David Page on the score, Djakapurra Munyarryun as cultural consultant, Jacob Nash on sets and Jennifer Irwin on costumes, will bring a renewed depth to this re-imagining, while honouring the meaning and spirit of the original.”

The season opens on 27 November until 5 December.

Ochres is the story of the relationship between Aboriginal people and the land. In all its forms and colours, ochre is essential to the life of Aboriginal communities. This four-part contemporary dance work – yellow, black, red and white – is a portrayal for each colour of this earthy substance, its myriad of purposes and their spiritual significance to Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal elder, Yolgnu songman and Bangarra’s cultural consultant Djakapurra Munyarryun, makes a welcome return to the stage, joining the 15-
member dance ensemble, bringing this seminal work to a new generation of dance fans. In the arresting opening scene, Djakapurra sits alone on stage,
dipping his hands into a coolamon of yellow ochre as he paints his face, arms and body.

Spiritual, powerful, sensual and grounded – each section is a story within itself and derived from the land on which we stand, making Ochres a powerful and otherwordly dance theatre experience.

Ochres (1994)
Choreography Stephen Page, Bernadette Walong-Sene
Music David Page
Cultural Consultant Djakapurra Munyarryun
Costume Designer Jennifer Irwin
Original Lighting Design Joseph Mercurio
Set Design Jacob Nash