... 2019 is the right time for Stamping Ground to come back to its cultural roots.
Inspired by Kylián’s deep interest in Aboriginal dance and its centrality in the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the work emerged as a response to Kylián’s experience in 1980, when he and his colleagues worked with communities and organisations to arrange a large corroboree on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The purpose of the gathering was for Kylián to observe traditional Aboriginal culture first hand, on Country, in preparation for a major project that would involve three new works, three commissioned scores, a documentary and an abstract impression film that would be given to the Indigenous communities who participated in the corroboree.
Over a thousand Indigenous men, women and children from all over the country, including The Kimberley, Cape York and the central desert lands travelled to Groote Eylandt to attend the week-long event.
The initial project of new works was determined as far too ambitious, and didn’t eventuate, but the deep impact of the experience did not leave Kylián and he began exploring choreographic shape to his response of having witnessed Aboriginal culture in this unique traditional setting. Stamping Ground was created in close collaboration with the cast of six NDT dancers and premiered on 17 February 1983 in The Hague.
Kylián has remarked that Stamping Ground allowed the dancers to discover the spirit in themselves, which has created a simultaneously playful, provocative, delicate and highly charged work with energy that draws on the strength and fragility of our emotional selves.
Stephen Page first saw Kylián’s choreography in the mid-1980s when he was a student at NAISDA Dance College. Page recognised a spirit within the work that spoke to him through a cultural connection. He kept that impression alive over the next three decades as he went on to became a dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of Bangarra.
Page had considered the idea of Bangarra performing Stamping Ground on a number of occasions. After 30 years of building a strong creative foundation for Bangarra, a rich and diverse repertoire and a reputation of renown throughout Australia as well as internationally — he believes 2019 is the right time for Stamping Ground to come back to its cultural roots.
This is the first time that Bangarra has presented the work of a non-Indigenous artist — an artist who also happens to be one of the world’s most influential choreographers. Stamping Ground illustrates how cultures can co-exist through dance and Bangarra is proud to be including this unique work of Jiří Kylián’s in the company’s repertoire.
Page recognised a spirit within the work that spoke to him through a cultural connection.