Carriageworks presents world premiere of Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 by resident company Marrugeku 6 Mar 2023

A trilogy of new short works, Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 highlights trans-Indigenous and intercultural collaboration in contemporary dance.

Sydney, Australia: Carriageworks, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary multi-arts organisations, today announced the world premiere of new dance work Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 presented from 21 – 29 April by resident company and Australia’s leading Indigenous intercultural dance company Marrugeku. Following the company’s critically acclaimed, international season of Jurrungu Ngan-ga in 2022, Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 features a trilogy of short works that trace histories of migration, relocation, cultural adaption and survival, and draws on the power of ancestral presence to remember the future.

Curated by Marrugeku’s Co-artistic directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, the dance works conceived for Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 are the result of a multi-year program of intensive dance laboratories, which aims to build capacity in the next generation of leading change makers in community and culturally informed contemporary dance.

Marrugeku Co-artistic Director Dalisa Pigram said: “Marrugeku’s Burrbgaja Yalirra program gives the lead artists the opportunity to take time working to explore and expand something important for them now. Working in Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Cebu, Nouméa and Sydney the artists have uncovered unique stories of their connections to their ancestors through who they are today. Exploring old and new dance they embody places and rhythms that are never forgotten.”

Marrugeku Co-artistic Director Rachael Swain said: “We are thrilled to be sharing each unique intercultural collaboration that make up Burrbgaja Yalirra 2. The works reflect the power and possibilities of dance to share new ways to belong in a changing world. In dialogue with their communities and investigations between memories, movements and images the dancers have woven stories of relocation, cultural adaption and survival.”

The commissioned works for Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 include:

  • Filipinx performance artist Bhenji Ra will present a solo work titled No New Gods, co-created with Javanese-Australian choreographer Melanie Lane. Set in the moments before, during and after a lunar eclipse, Ra looks to channel colonial histories, epic narratives, and flora and fauna of the Philippine archipelago. In uncanny constellations of the mythic and the mundane, Ra summons the Bakunawa who swallowed the moon, a serpent-like dragon believed in Philippine mythology to be the cause of eclipses, earthquakes, rains and wind. Ra’s voice echoes through time in a dystopian truth telling that warns of catastrophe invoked by failing to hear the wisdom of aunties, the agitation of tiny animals and messages contained within ancient stories.
  • Broome-based Aboriginal (Kunjen) and Torres Strait Islander (Erub/Meriam) dancer Ses Bero and Kanak/Ni Vanuatuan/Papua New Guinean hip hop dancer Stan Nalo will channel the maritime histories of the Melanesian diaspora in their new co-created duo Bloodlines. In a celebration of the soft power of young warriors today, Bloodlines exchanges cultural and contemporary dance forms to come to terms with the brutal histories of blackbirding. The slavery and forced transportation of South Sea Islanders to eastern Australia that began in the early 1800s is counteracted by this intercultural and intra-Melanesian exchange facilitated by Ghenoa Gela and Miranda Wheen, through choreography that reveals the power of what is shared, what remains and what is different and distinct between the dancers’ cultural experiences.
  • Bunuba/Walmajarri/Gooniyandi dancer and actor Emmanuel James Brown (EJB) in collaboration with animation artist Sohan Ariel Hayes will present the work Nyuju, an exploration of the extraordinary life and paintings of his great grandmother Nyuju Stumpy Brown, the sister of Rover Thomas. Conceived through the lens of Nyuju’s paintings as maps of Country and as one of the last ‘first contact’ stories in Australia, the work has been co-choreographed by Dalisa Pigram with Malay dancer Zunnur Zhafirah as associate choreographer, and will see Brown dancing on vibrant projections of his late great grandmother’s paintings.

The trilogy is designed by Kanak French installation artist Nicolas Molé with music by Filipina Australian composer Corin Ileto. Together they make intangible knowledges visible and audible to evoke new ways to belong in a changing world.

Acting Carriageworks CEO Jonty Claypole said: “Carriageworks is proud to commission this innovative new work by resident company Marrugeku that brings together artists and choreographers working at the forefront of contemporary dance, and leading new approaches in intercultural collaboration.”

Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 was co-commissioned by Carriageworks and PICA, Perth, and tickets are now on sale.


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