FROM CHOREOGRAPHER FRANCES RINGS:
Sheoak is work that embodies many things. Not only is the tree itself symbolic, from providing tools, medicine, food, and shelter, I also wanted it to symbolise our stories – stories of the dancers, of the creatives, of the history of the company, of our people. After 25 years of telling other people’s stories, it’s time to share our contemporary Indigenous experiences.
Land, country, culture will always be an inspiration for me.
Just as the Sheoak tree and many of our fauna and flora are endangered, so too are our Indigenous languages, customs and lore. Sheoak represents the threat to our culture but also the incredible fight we have within us to protect it.
Sheoak also represents the significance of features in our environment like scar trees, sites, waterholes – while today’s use of them might be long past to us, they represent a connection to our ancestors and Elders. Those ties are strong even though we may not live that lifestyle any more and live a contemporary Indigenous life, those things remain relevant and hold a strong place in our identity. They are within us. They give us a sense of strength and spiritual awakening. They ground us and keep us connected to something that transcends our modern life, and bound us to our birthright.