Dark Emu

Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book, Dark Emu explores the vital life force of flora and fauna in a series of dance stories, redefining the post-colonial myth of the ‘hunter-gatherer’.



Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book provides an historical account of the sophisticated farming, fishing and land management practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the continent prior to colonisation, exploding the hunter-gatherer myth which has been perpetuated to support the colonial lie of terra nullius. Dark Emu chronicles what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always known, that their reciprocal and interconnected relationship with the environment is both sustainable and sacred.

Inspired by these stories of respect and connection, Bangarra’s Dark Emu is a dramatic and evocative dance response to the assault on land, people and spirit. We celebrate this sharing of knowledge, the heritage of careful custodianship, and the beauty that Bruce Pascoe’s vision urges us to leave to the children.

This production features the First Nations' Yuin languages Djirrinjan and Dhurga/Thoorga (New South Wales South Coast).

Dark Emu's Sections:

Dark Spirit of the Sky - Looking into the void

Ceremony of Seed - Working with the cycle of life

Forged by Fire - Fertilised by ash

Bogong Moth Harvest - Oiling and feasting

Crushed by Ignorance - The calamity of disregard

Escape Through Dust - A resilient lone spirit prevails, moving onwards

Bowls of Mourning
- Tears mix with the earth in caps of clay

Trampled by Indifference
- A scourge of hooves, of flies and disease

Rebirth Ritual
- Carefully we are restored

Rocks of Knowledge
- Weaving traps with stone and skill

Whales of Fortune - The pinnacle of reciprocity, trust is shared with the cetaceans

Smashed by Colonisation - A final, climactic massacre, an uncomprehending destruction

Resilience of Culture - The wonder and power that nurtures earth, sea and sky

Baiame - The spirit of resilience and hope, singing up the land

Duration: 75 Minutes





Premiere Season: National Tour | 2018
Dark Emu Program 2018