Bangarra returns to Karratha’s Red Earth Arts Precinct with SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Rika Hamaguchi in Bangarra Dance Theatre's new work SandSong.
Camera IconRika Hamaguchi in Bangarra Dance Theatre's new work SandSong. Credit: Daniel Boud/Daniel Boud

Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts company is returning to the Pilbara and bringing its profound and powerful SandSong production.

SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert explores the Kimberley’s Walmajarri homelands and the living water residing in desert waterholes across the region and is the basis of cultural beliefs and practices.

The production tells the stories of the Walmajarri people by exploring ancient story systems framed against the backdrop of ever-changing government policy and of the survival of people determined to hold strong to their culture.

Bangarra Dance Theatre performance, Sydney
Camera IconBangarra Dance Theatre performance, Sydney. Credit: TheWest

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Despite the displacement and cultural disruption that occurred between the 1920s and 1960s when Aboriginal people were removed from country and placed on to pastoral stations, the traditional people of the Western Desert have maintained unbroken connection to land and country.

The show will be held at the Red Earth Arts Precinct on November 5 as part of Bangarra’s Regional tour and honours the legacy of late Wangkatjungka woman, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, and her family.

The Lawford family has long generational ties to the Kimberley and are current owners of the pastoral lease for Bohemia Downs cattle station.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf in The Secret River at Edinburgh International Festival.
Camera IconNingali Lawford-Wolf in The Secret River at Edinburgh International Festival. Credit: Ryan Buchanan Photography/Ryan Buchanan Photography

Ms Lawford-Wolf was famous for her roles in films including Rabbit-Proof Fence and Bran Nue Dae and also appeared in Last Cab to Darwin.

Bangarra artistic director Stephen Page said SandSong is a glimpse into the world of the Walmajarri people from the Great Sandy Desert and their inspirational story of survival as they overcome adversity to defend their land, identity and cultural rights.

It was created by Bangarra Dance Theatre in consultation with Wangkatjungka/Walmajarri elders from the Kimberley and Great Sandy Desert regions, drawing on the stories, knowledge and memories of the past.

The tour starts in Albany on October 26 before heading to Bunbury and Geraldton with Karratha the last WA show before the company travel to the Northern Territory

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