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BlakDance set to bring two culturally rich works to Perth stages

Joseph Guenzler -

BlakDance is set to showcase two significant premieres in Perth, Western Australia in April and May.

They include Gary Lang NT Dance Company's "The Other Side of Me" at the State Theatre Centre from 30 April to 2 May, and "SILENCE" by Karul Projects, which will be performed at His Majesty’s Theatre on 1 and 2 May.

Established in 2005, BlakDance is a national producing platform for Indigenous contemporary dancers and choreographers.

Choreographer and Artistic Director of NT Dance Company, Gary Lang. (Image: NT Dance)

Larrakia man Gary Lang's 'The Other Side of Me' presents a touching perspective on the Stolen Generations, telling the story of a young man adopted and brought up in a small UK village.

Caught between two families, nations, and cultures, this intimate duet delves into the complexities of colonisation and its extensive harmful effects.

"It was about two boys (this is about one of of them), who were taken from their mother and put into an orphanage in Alice Springs, and within two weeks they were taken to Cornwall," Mr Lang said. 

"The eldest one always wanted to know 'what whas the other side of him.

"So they grew up predominately white even though they knew they were different."

It invites viewers to witness the journey of a young man's spirit finding its way home.

Of this international, cross-cultural collaboration with Northumbria University (UK), Choreographer and Larrakia man, Gary Lang said "I focused on the original crime done to him - the loss of his identity ... what he lost by not knowing the other side of himself".

"Split in two, each half depicted by a single dancer. Ultimately what this work became is a path to help him travel back so he knows it’s ok to come home where his spirit should be," Mr Lang said. 

"That way we honour him - and all the others this happened to. Because this story is not just his story - it’s our story. It belongs to Australia.

"It's not about making people feel guilty, it's about showing what's happened." 

Mr Lang's describes his representation of this story as a braided rope, where you often find three key aspects of Indigenous culture being at play - music, art and dance. 

"There's three things that are always strung together, music art and dance," he said. 

"We're creating a different braid but it's still the same string." 

'SILENCE' pulls the Treaty conversation out from under the rug and slams it back on the table.

With thrashing live drumming and a raw aesthetic, Thomas E.S. Kelly combines intimate storytelling with significant moments in Australian history bringing an unresolved conversation to a new generation.

Choreographer and Minjungbal-Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni-Vanuatu man, Thomas E.S. Kelly said, "SILENCE literally and symbolically breaks the silence with dynamic live percussion from composer Jhindu-Pedro Lawrie".

"His rich drumbeats drive the dancers forward as they explore past,
present, and pose alternate realities," he said.

Tickets are available via the State Theatre's website. 

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