Watch Excerpts from Ochres

  • North East Arnhem Land, Torres Strait Islands
  • Choreography, Music, Costumes, Sets & Lighting, Highlights, Performance

In all its forms and colours, ochre is an essential and traditional part of life in Aboriginal communities. The production Ochres is structured into four sections – ‘Yellow’, ‘Black’, ‘Red’ and ‘White’ – the most common colours of this earthy substance.

Ochre is a clay substance that has an important role in many Aboriginal cultural practices. It is used for rituals and ceremonies, visual arts and medicine. Ochre is used widely in body painting for dance ceremonies, representing, honouring and celebrating the spirit of these cultural stories.

Bangarra’s Ochres was first performed in 1994 as a work in progress, and soon became a watershed production for the company leading to sold-out performances nationally and internationally.

The inspiration behind Ochres was to bring the contemporary and the traditional together in a seamless way, while retaining the integrity of our stories. Ochres is the work that inspired much of Bangarra’s repertoire and one of the earliest examples of our signature style. Now – 21 years on from its creation – it’s the base for the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to embody Bangarra’s artistic expression.

In the beginning of Bangarra, we rehearsed in Redfern – it was our stomping ground. Ochres started brewing there during 1993/1994 with early members of the Bangarra family: my brothers David and Russell Page, Djakapurra Munyarryun, Bernadette Walong-Sene, Frances Rings and Pinau Ghee among others. Paul Keating’s 1993 Redfern speech was burning in us, and the Creative Nation policy put art and culture firmly on the Government agenda. With Bangarra being fresh on the scene, these events fuelled our energy to create this work and we went on to tour Australia and the world.

To present the full production back in the Inner West of Sydney in 2015 at Carriageworks (our first ever season here) is very special and exciting. For me, watching the evolution of Ochres from 1994 until now with our current dance ensemble is such a beautiful thing and a testament to the continuing of our cultural stories.

Stephen Page, 2015

This production features the First Nations languages Ngarti (Northern Territory and Western Australia), Etanyanu (North West Cape York), Yolŋu Matha (Yirritja language group - North East Arnhem Land), Kala Kawaw Ya (Torres Strait Islands), Meriam Mir (Eastern Torres Strait Islands) and Yugambeh (South East Queensland).

PLEASE NOTE: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that Ochres contains images, audio, video, quotes and the names of people who have passed away.

Bangarra would like to acknowledge the many people in our family who are no longer here but have left an indelible mark in our cultural and creative continuum.

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the many First Nations communities, whose Country and stories have inspired Ochres.