Even though I have lived in Sydney for seventeen years, I have not considered this bustling city my home but more my 'stage' - the sacred dance space where, in my mind's eye, I'm on and performing on my Country.
Make your vocation your vacation!
This has been my motto for the last fifteen years and sums up my professional dance career with Bangarra Dance Theatre to date. For me, nothing beats having a career where you can celebrate your culture while doing what you love and travelling the world!
I am a proud Yawuru woman from the multi-cultural town of Broome. I also have Spanish, Irish, English and Filipino bloodlines. Growing up on my ancestors' Country has given me the strength of identity to pursue my dreams and transform them into reality. My family block is a fifteen-minute drive out of town, in a small Aboriginal community known colloquially as Four mile. My parents built our bush house surrounded by forests of native 'Jiggle' Trees (Native Bauhinia). It is a special, peaceful home and every time I return, the natural surrounds are like a comforting blanket.
I never imagined in my lifetime that it would take a pandemic such as this to extract myself out of the Sydney routine to spend time on my Country - more than just ten days in Broome come holiday time. The arrival of COVID-19 has made me sit back and reflect; it's made me rethink current priorities.
I have been in a fifteen-year cycle of training, creating, performing and educating. All this suddenly came to an unforeseeable halt. Even though I have lived in Sydney for seventeen years, I have not considered this bustling city my home but more my 'stage' - the sacred dance space where, in my mind's eye, I'm on and performing on my Country. When I heard news that the WA borders were being closed due to the virus, and that we were all going to be working from home, I booked a flight back to Broome before I even had time to blink.
... this morning I rose to do Yoga and Pilates on Cable Beach when the sun was still rising and the air was cool. I then meditated and washed the white, fine sand off my body in the healing, salty water.
These happenings crystallised my perspective; full-time dance in Sydney, with Bangarra, is something truly special to me - it's embedded in my soul, the pores of my skin, and the cells of my heart. I love this professional life and if COVID-19 is not allowing me to feel this amazing fulfilment every day, I must return to be nurtured by my Country, my home, and my family. I continue my practice as a Bangarra Artist, while digging my feet into my Country - my ancestors' Country. This is what I want to share with you.
Now we are working online from home, away from the studio. Our work circumstances have completely changed, but I am still doing my utmost to retain my fitness and look after myself mentally and physically. As a full-time Senior Dancer, I am continually putting my body over the pits - oiling the joints and re-balancing the body's machinery, so mechanically, it can function at its highest level, day in and day out. The extra time for reflection has highlighted the fact that I love and prioritise existing in a pain-free, fit body.
Expressing myself through movement is the most healing medicine I know; sequence of movement can change your emotion and release tension and mental stress. In a more metaphysical context, or on a spiritual level, dance - and for me, especially traditional dance on Country and traditionally-inspired contemporary dance- is healing on a level that words cannot express.
This has prompted me to devise a daily exercise plan to maintain this feeling of freedom within my body - my ‘norm’ when working full-time. For me, variety is the spice of life and this crosses over to absolutely everything. When the tide is high, I increase my sessions to three per day, including swimming laps. Otherwise, depending on the daily company schedule, I incorporate variety through extra Pilates, Yoga or cardio. We have also been working on tasking physical ideas for our upcoming production SandSong and learning old repertoire from Terrain, which is keeping my passion stimulated.
I feel that this physical drive and routine also supports my mental health during these unstable times. For example, this morning I rose to do Yoga and Pilates on Cable Beach when the sun was still rising and the air was cool. I then meditated and washed the white, fine sand off my body in the healing, salty water. I truly feel that when there's ease of movement, there is no stress or dis-ease in the body. Dancing, in union with Pilates and Yoga, is my pathway to fitness and maintaining a healthy immune system – now, more than ever.
Apart from the physical maintenance I both need and thrive on, I'm maintaining stability by engulfing myself in nature and getting to know my Country as an adult. Being in Broome for more than a month is something I haven't experienced for over eighteen years! I feel like I've been given time; Mother Nature has given us all time to look inside and to reflect.
I’m exploring different walking trails and discovering quiet places where I can sit down and draw my favourite bush flowers and fruit. This morning I was inspired by the Minyirr (birthplace) Trail that runs beside the dunes, parallel to the ocean. I found a Gubinge (Kakadu Plum) Tree - our native bush plum with the highest vitamin C content of any fruit on the planet - and the beautiful purple flower vine - Ipomoea (Rock Morning Glory). Later, I’ll transform these images into stencils and print them on material.
Some of the most beautiful things that are unfolding from these difficult times are new, creatively-driven, connections with my family. In isolation, my Grandmother and I have been staying in contact over the phone. We’re really excited to be currently working on a joint exhibition. Until we get the all clear to return to our Sydney dance studio, this creativity is keeping my family connected, motivated and healthy.
Dance Artist (Alumni)
Tara is a Yawuru woman from Broome with Aboriginal, Filipino, Irish and Spanish ancestry. She joined Bangarra in 2006 and created her first choreographic work for the company, Nala, in 2013.Explore profile