Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra to air on ABC
[by Katherine Stevenson]
Image: Daniel Boud
Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra will be aired 8.30pm Tuesday 6th July on ABC and ABC iview.
Bangarra Dance Theatre, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is Australia’s only Indigenous major performing arts company. Its development from a small dance group in Glebe, Sydney, in the late 80s to a company of international renown, was and is driven in large part by its Artistic director Stephen Page and his brothers, composer David Page and lead dancer Russell Page.
Firestarter takes Bangarra’s anniversary year as its launch pad but takes us right back to the world in which the Page brothers grew up as youngsters – Queensland in the 70s and 80s, a world in which racism and suppression of Aboriginal identity was still rife, with “one law for whites and another for blacks.” ‘It was tough,’ says Stephen. ‘I was born three years before the referendum that constitutionalised Aboriginal people being respected as humans.’
Never before seen home video, shot by David as a child, and rare archive takes us through the boys’ younger years, interweaving their story with the late 80s/early 90s rise of black ‘artivism’ and the start of Bangarra.
As the film tracks the rise of Bangarra, culminating in its era defining work Ochres and a spectacularly triumphant contribution to the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony, we start to realise what commentator Hetti Perkins means at the start of the film when saying: ‘once you pick up the torch, you never get to put it down. And that sort of thing comes at a cost.’ The ghosts of the past haunt the Page family.
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[Tim Lee, ABC]
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[Lorena Allam, The Guardian]
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[by Jessica Evans]
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