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The Spirit of Patyegarang

Audio Description: Footage projected on a sandstone wall shows a graceful dance between a long-haired woman and a muscular, bearded man. She wears a flowing dark translucent skirt, her limbs and torso daubed with white paint. His blue pants are streaked with white and his singlet is a stained grimy brown.

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23 May, 6:00 PM - 09 June, All Day




Rocks / Circular Quay


Bangarra Dance Theatre / Stephen Page / Jacob Nash / Eric Murray Lui / David Page / Tiffany Parker / Jasmin Sheppard / Thomas Greenfield

Cast your imagination back, over 200 years ago, to a fleeting moment in Sydney’s history: a ‘first contact’ encounter when two people from different cultures connected and shared their knowledge. The spirit of Patyegarang brings to life – and light – a fascinating story from our country’s past.

During the first settlement in Sydney Cove, there was a place called Tar-ra in the Eora Nation, where a young Aboriginal girl, Patyegarang, made an astonishing cultural exchange.

Lieutenant William Dawes, the early colony’s timekeeper, built his observatory in a hut in Tar-ra, now known as Dawes Point, situated under the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Living away from the early settlement, Dawes began to connect with the nearby Aboriginal clan and developed a remarkable friendship with Patyegarang.

Discovered in 1972, his notebooks bring to life Patyegarang’s legacy, unveiling a woman of intense and enduring courage, a proud spirit whose practices as an educator and visionary now inspire new generations of Aboriginal people to understand their culture and language.

Projected onto the sandstone blocks of the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Patyegarang’s spirit awakens and inspires you with the sensations and emotions of ‘first contact’.

Weaving their creative energies, leading Aboriginal artists Stephen Page (artistic director, choreographer) and Jacob Nash (designer) join forces with videographer Tiffany Parker in creating a cultural experience that blends the contemporary with the traditional.

Bangarra Dance Theatre is Australia’s leading Indigenous performing arts organisation, weaving traditional and modern cultures seamlessly into its award-winning dance theatre productions, touring nationally, regionally and internationally.
Bangarra is inspired by the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – their ancient contemporary stories, songs and dances inform Bangarra’s work in rekindling and honouring language and customs.
The spirit of Patyegarang is explored by the award-winning Bangarra Dance Theatre, in its current production Patyegarang showing at the Sydney Opera House until 5 July 2014
Tickets are now on sale from sydneyoperahouse.com/bangarra or with the SOH box office on 02 9250 1777.

Bangarra would like to thank Victoria Taylor and Janette O’Neil for their contribution to The spirit of Patyegarang

Video projection provided by TDC – Technical Direction Company


Australia Council for the ArtsGilbert + Tobin Logo