I.B.I.S (lore)

Deborah Brown and Waangenga Blanco on I.B.I.S

  • Torres Strait Islands
  • Choreography, Program, Resources
Our opposing styles have been complementary and we think that balance comes through to the work.

We’re both from Murray Island in the Torres Strait –a beautiful, isolated, sunny, wild land of smiles and loud laughter. We wanted to create a work that puts a smile on your face and gives you an insight into life on the islands -a place where despite challenges of displacement and climate change, the culture remains strong and the people optimistic. We hope that the vitality and resilience of the island personality shines through in this piece.

I.B.I.S stands for Island Board of Industry and Services, a little local store on a few of the islands. In our work, we’ve created a fictional I.B.I.S store where the people are modern day hunters and gatherers.

It was Stephen who came to us with the initial concept for I.B.I.S – he posed the question to us: “What would happen if we highlighted moments that you would see at the store? What happens at the store at night when this frozen aquarium of jellyfish, stingrays and crayfish comes to life?” and that was our jumping off point for the work.

We’ve chartered the evolution of this small trading company to how it’s grown through the commitment and engagement of the Torres Strait people to make it the strong entity it is today. It’s this sense of community that flows through into the studio as we work with our fellow dancers, who are helping us shape our story.

Working as choreographers for the first time has given us both a new appreciation ofthe individuality of Bangarra’s dancers. Stephen and Frances have always taught us the importance of bringing ourselves to the work and to relish our differences, and this is what makes Bangarra such a treasure.

What drew us to the company many years ago was the connection to culture through dance and that’s what we’re taking to the stage with I.B.I.S – we’re sharing our culture, and a piece of ourselves, with you tonight. Dance is a primitive and raw expression that has been practiced for tens of thousands of years, but what makes Bangarra so unique is its beautiful, sensual and vibrant dancers and style of movement.

The two of us have always worked well together on stage, and choreographing I.B.I.S jointly has been a beautiful experience. Our opposing styles have been complementary and we think that balance comes through to the work.

Thank you to Stephen for giving us this opportunity – your encouragement and nurturing spirit has been incredible during this process. We are so grateful to be able to collaborate with such a stellar team of creatives who have helped bring our vision for I.B.I.S to life. Thanks to our composer Steve Francis for capturing the sounds of the Torres Strait so perfectly, and to Jennifer Irwin for her gorgeous costumes; to the talented Jacob Nash for his set designs and to the gifted Karen Norris on lighting.

We are also grateful to our families of the Torres Strait and Elders who were so generousin teaching us their traditional dances and sharing their knowledge with us: Peggy Misi, Mark William Satrick, Pinau Ghee and Betty Tekahika (Mabo).

For all the social and political issues that face our people today, it is our wish to leave you with a message of hope and joy.

Deborah Brown & Waangenga Blanco

I.B.I.S is one of the most imaginative contemporary dance works I have witnessed. It is cheeky, insightful and breathtaking all at once.
Claudia Lawson, 2015, ABC Arts Online