"we’re threading her visual world with one of dance"
Dance is a medium where the music is created in tandem. When you see this extraordinary choreography partnering what you’ve made, it elevates what you do to another level
“I’m always a bit out of my comfort zone with Bangarra, but I enjoy the challenge,” says Steve Francis, Helpman Award winner and composer of Nyapanyapa. “With Nyapanyapa, the subject is a living artist and we’re threading her visual world with one of dance. The whole piece has a sense of place and atmosphere about it; her paintings reflect her place and her stories, so I’ve tried to capture that in the music.”
Inspiration came from a host of musical guests, from Nyapanyapa herself speaking with her niece Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr, principal of Yirrkala School and Bangarra foundation member and Yolŋu songman Djakapurra Munyarryun singing in language. Also featured are vocalist Ursula Yovich, the Warumpi Band and some 1952 recordings of Nyapanyapa’s father. There are five musical sections: Buffalo, Bush Apple, Nibblets, Lost Wendys and In Her Mind, each with a distinct theme but more akin to movements in a single work.
Seeing the dancers respond to the score, and seeing how it complements the other stage elements, is one of Steve's favourite parts of the process. “Dance is a medium where the music is created in tandem. When you see this extraordinary choreography partnering what you’ve made, it elevates what you do to another level,” says Steve.
Steve believes that working with David and Bangarra is a creative gift. “David taught me to allow the music to flow through me, rather than overthink it, and to trust my instincts – that was only one of his many natural talents that he shared with me,” said Steve.