Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia Rekindling program visits Warrnambool

Tradition: Warrnambool College students practise ahead of Friday's Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia performance. Picture: Rob Gunstone
Tradition: Warrnambool College students practise ahead of Friday's Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia performance. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Culturally significant locations including Point Ritchie, Framlingham, Tower Hill and Hopkins Falls have inspired a dance performance by local indigenous students. 

The 24 south-west students were chosen to work with the coveted Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia’s youth outreach program, Rekindling and will perform on Friday night. 

The contemporary dance company began intensive residencies with Brauer, Warrnambool, Emmanuel and Hawkesdale college students in February which culminate in the free public performance.

Students worked with Gunditjmara elders to research and gather stories to develop the thought-provoking dance theatre.

Rekindling is a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students to explore their history and heritage. Bangarra community engagement manager Libby Collins said the workshops inspired pride, kinship and strength.

Local elders exchanged cultural knowledge with the students at Point Ritchie, Framlingham, Tower Hill and Hopkins Falls.

Warrnambool College Kalay Academy director Anne Jane said participating in the program was a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

Mrs Jane said the 18 students interest and knowledge of local Aboriginal history had dramatically increased following the field trips.

Other benefits included encouraging students to step outside their comfort zones which had boosted their self esteem and confidence and new skills they learnt while working as a team.

“It's been a real test of commitment, resilience and respect across three gatherings,” she said. 

Youth program director Sidney Saltner said it was a transformative experience for students.

“Self-confidence and a strong connection to culture are fundamental to the development of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ identity and wellbeing,” he said.

It’s on at the Warrnambool College Auditorium on Friday at 6.30pm. 

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