Two worlds collide in Geelong when Bangarra Dance Theatre recreates the story of one of the most mythologised ‘First Contact’ figures – Woollarawarre Bennelong.
Bennelong, the creation of Indigenous artistic director Stephen Page, comes to Geelong Performing Arts Centre for four shows from 21 to 23 February.
Page described the show as an archetype of Indigenous people dealing with the Western World.
“In a way, we are all Bennelong – forever trying to navigate our way through two worlds,” he said.
“Everyone has heard of the name Bennelong, however his extraordinary story is not really understood in the way that shows the enormous capacity of a man who opened up the conversation between European and Aboriginal people.”
Woollarawarre Bennelong was a senior man of the Eora, from the Port Jackson area in Sydney.
Bennelong was one of the first Aboriginal men to experience European ways.
He was also one of the first Aboriginal people to have their life story recorded and documented through the early diaries of the British military.
With curiosity, courage and diplomacy, Bennelong led his community to survive a clash of cultures, and left a legacy that reverberates through contemporary Indigenous life.
“The question of how we move forward whilst still being connected to our culture and heritage has inspired much of my life’s work,” Page said.
“More than two centuries after his death, telling (Bennelong’s) extraordinary story is a powerful reminder that there is a still a long way for us to (achieve) true equality.”
Bangarra unravels Bennelong’s story through the company’s transformative dance theatre language.
The show premiered at Sydney Opera House on 26 May, 2017.