Rites (Gathering)

Melbourne Season Program | 1997

  • Program, Resources

This landmark production brought together Bangarra Dance Theatre and The Australian Ballet and was was commissioned for the 1997 Melbourne International Arts festival by former Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, Ross Stretton.

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Rites is an exploration of the natural forces which determine our ancient landscape. I have not tried to harness nature’s elemental forces – this human need for control is futile and meaningless. Rather, I have tried to capture the spiritual essence of these elements in 'snapshots' or flashpoints. Each of the elements - 'Earth', 'Wind', 'Fire', 'Water' – have their own ritual, their own special characteristics. They are complex, ephemeral moments occurring simultaneously in a non-linear time frame. Beginning with Awakening and completed by Dreaming, these elements are part of the great cyclic universal force: our spiritual essence, our Dreaming.

Just as Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring brought together an exciting union of artists, so too does this production. With this work, I wanted to challenge the preconceptions about Indigenous peoples and propel us along the path of reconciliation.

Stephen Page, 1997