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Climate warriors inspire choreographer's new work

Eelemarni Close-Brown -

A choreographer has been inspired by climate change warriors to create a work about the dangers rising seas pose to the Torres Strait Islands.

While she was born on the mainland in Rockhampton, artist Ghenoa Gela still calls the Torres Strait Islands her home.

Gela's latest production Gurr Era Op was inspired by the actions of climate group the Torres Strait 8, who brought a human rights complaint against the Australian government's inaction on climate change to the United Nations.

"I saw all these Island people and their posts making a call to action, and these eight people started travelling all around to try and get the government to see that we are struggling up there," she said.

The production highlights the threats to culture posed by the rising tide of climate change. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

As sea levels continue to rise, Torres Strait Islanders are at risk of losing their culture and island homes.

"I thought to myself, 'what can I do?' and what I know is that within my power is art, so that is how this production came about because I wanted to say something," Gela told AAP.

"I feel like art is the only way I have the power to say something."

Gela has been performing since the age of three, when she joined a cultural dance troupe with her parents, brothers and extended family in central Queensland.

Since then she has gone on to become an award winning choreographer, multi-dimensional storyteller and facilitator of dance workshops in remote and regional communities.

The chance to be able to visit her traditional homelands is significant for Gela because the rising tides add a timer.

"Right now I can go to that place but I don't know if my nephews can get to that place and I don't know if their own kids can get there," she said.

Gurra Era Op means "the face of sea" in the Meriam Mir language.

The production centres around the journey of four mainland-born Torres Strait Islander women as they confront the imminent threats posed to their home, culture and identity by the rising tide of climate change.

"Our islands, when the water covers them, that's forever," Gela said.

"There's no receding water and that is the most horrifying thing for me since there's no going back."

Gurr Era Op premieres at the Sydney Festival and runs from January 13-19.

Eelemarni Close-Brown - AAP

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