Combine the raw and complex forms of indigenous dance and movement with background animations, violin accompaniment and Belgian direction, and Marrugeku’s remarkable presence on stage is reinforced again as a combination of music, storytelling and dance. Marrugeku are recognised as leading change makers in intercultural contemporary dance, dedicated to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians developing dance languages that surprise audiences, generate thought and consistently impress.

Over three nights (30 May – 1 June) at Carriageworks, the company presents Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards), a triple bill of solo works curated by Marrugeku’s artistic directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain. All three works explore the complexity of exchanging privileges between races and culture, aiming to challenge the mainstream understanding of history and relationships with the land.

Marrugeku performers come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, collaborating to co-create each production as they tour throughout urban and remote Australia, while also including other Indigenous contexts internationally and throughout the world.

Edwin Lee Mulligan
The first work, Ngarlimbah (You are as much a part of me as I am of you) is a spoken word and animated video work conceived by Walmajarri/Nyikina painter and poet, Edwin Lee Mulligan, in collaboration with award-winning media artist Sohan Ariel Hayes. Ngarlimbah tells the stories of two dingoes, the calm Yungngora and the dark dog Jirrilbil whose final resting place is a billabong near Noonkanbah, Central Kimberley where waterlilies grow. Yungngora and Jirrilbil visit Edwin in his dreams, responding to contemporary concerns in his community.

Miranda Wheen
In Miranda, Miranda Wheen herself performs a solo dance work choreographed with and directed by Serge Aimé Coulibaly from Burkina Faso and Belgium. Miranda takes as a starting point the final, initially unpublished, chapter of Picnic at Hanging Rock and the fate of Wheen’s fictional namesake ‘Miranda’ who seemingly disappeared in the Australian landscape. Miranda explores the stumbling, often awkward and painful position of settler Australians grappling with understanding Indigenous Australian experience and perceptions of land, while negotiating their own troubled belonging to it.

Eric Avery
The final work, Dancing with Strangers, sees dancer and violinist Eric Avery collaborate with Belgian co-choreographer Koen Augustijnen. The work explores the first colonial contact period, including early and missed chances for exchange in language, dance and sharing knowledge. Eric imagines where we might be now if there had been music and dance made between the two cultures and explores the dislocation of the indigenous people resulting from the lack of such negotiated contact.

The combined works over three nights create an inspiring realisation of an opportunity lost, recognising the colonial mindset of conquer and control (both of life and the land), but articulating a message of how thing might have been, as well as what they ought to be.


Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards) was commissioned by Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts and Carriageworks.